Classic Mopars: 1960's

 
 
As the 1960's opened, the Chrysler Corporation made both good and bad moves. In 1960, Chrysler introduced uni-body construction in its cars, the first to offer it of the Big Three, across the board, excepting the Imperial. This gave the body more rigidity and less rattles and would soon become an industry standard. Its new compact line, the Valiant, opened strong and continued to gain market share for well over a decade.  
 
 
 
Valiant was introduced as a division of its own but would become adopted by Plymouth in 1961. Alternators would replace generators in the 1960 Valiant and then all of the 1961 models as standard equipment, an industry first. The DeSoto marque was axed after the introduction of the 1961 models due in part to the broad array of the Dodge lines being marketed and the general neglect of the division. The same affliction plagued Plymouth as it also suffered when Dodge crept into Plymouth's price range. (This would eventually lead to the demise of Plymouth several decades down the road.) An ill-advised downsizing of the full-size Dodge and Plymouth lines in 1962 hurt sales and profitability for several years.
 
 
In April 1964, the Plymouth Barracuda, which was technically a Valiant sub-series, was introduced. The huge glass rear window gave the impression of a hatchback with its "love-it-or-hate-it" styling. Beating the Ford Mustang to the market by almost two weeks, it could be argued that the Barracuda was really the first pony car. However, unlike the Mustang, it did not rob sales of other division's models. In spite of better build quality than the Mustang, the Mustang still outsold the Barracuda 10-to-1 between April 1964 and August 1965.
 
 
In 1966, Chrysler expanded into Europe, by taking over the British Rootes Group, and Simca of France to form Chrysler Europe. The former purchase unfortunately turned out to be a major mistake for the company, inheriting a major industrial relations problem which afflicted the British motor industry at the time, coupled to the archaic factories and outdated product range that Rootes manufactured. Chrysler retired all of the Rootes marques in favor of the Chrysler name. The Simca division was more successful, but in the end the various problems were overwhelming and the firm gained little from these ventures.
 
 
More successfully, at this same time the company helped create the muscle car market in the U.S., first by producing a street version of its Hemi racing engine and then by introducing a legendary string of affordable but high-performance vehicles such as the Plymouth GTX, Plymouth Road Runner, and Dodge Charger. The racing success of several of these models on the NASCAR circuit burnished the company's reputation for engineering.
 
 
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