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Chrysler Canada turns 90

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler Canada (now FCA Canada) turned 90 years old yesterday.

Chrysler Corporation of Canada, Ltd., was formed in Windsor, Ontario, on June 17, 1925. It was located across the Detroit River from the the city where Walter P. Chrysler had founded the new Chrysler just 11 days earlier.

Chrysler-Canada-90-Bday

As was true of Chrysler Corporation, Chrysler Canada was the successor to the Maxwell-Chalmers Motor Company of Canada. Maxwell-Chalmers was the first producer of Chrysler cars, and the change to Chrysler Corporation was one of holding companies, entailing no changes in personnel, products, or buildings.

Chrysler Canada’s first president was John D. Mansfield, an Ohio native who had come to Canada in 1924 as president of Maxwell-Chalmers. Chrysler Canada didn’t have a Canadian president until Ron W. Todgham took over in 1956. (for more on the history of Chrysler Canada, see “Chrysler Canada 1925-2104“)

Reid Bigland, FCA Canada’s current president, is a Canadian from Kamloops, British Columbia. Bigland was on hand and addressed the crowd, noting that FCA Canada is the now the largest automaker in the country.

The company celebrated the milestone at the Dieppe Gardens on the banks of the Detroit River and just across Riverside Drive West from FCA Canada’s headquarters building.

The site had special significance for Chrysler. The Dieppe Gardens now occupy the former site of the Dominion Typograph Company, where John and Horace Dodge established their bicycle company in 1896.

A variety of classic Canadian-built cars on hand included a 1926 Chrysler Model 50, a 1959 Dodge Custom Royal, a 1984 Dodge Caravan, and an Ontario-built Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat parked close to its remote ancestor, a 1900s-era Evan & Dodge bicycle on loan from the Detroit Historical Society.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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