Classic Mopars: 1970's

 
 
The 1970's brought both success and crisis. The aging but stalwart compacts saw a rush of sales as demand for smaller cars crested after the first gas crisis of 1973. However, an expensive investment in an all-new full-size lineup went largely to waste as the new 1974 vehicles appeared almost precisely as gasoline prices reached a peak and large-car sales collapsed; that same year marked the end of Barracuda production - 10 years to the day. At mid-decade, the company scored a conspicuous success with its first entry in the personal luxury car market, the Chrysler Cordoba. 
 
 
However, the introduction of the Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare twins in 1976 did not repeat the success of the discontinued Valiant/Dodge Dart line, and the company had delayed in producing an entry in the now all-important subcompact market. Problems were multiplying abroad as well, as Chrysler Europe essentially collapsed in 1977. It was offloaded to Peugeot the following year, ironically just after having helped design the new Plymouth Horizon and Dodge Omni, on which the increasingly-desperate company was pinning its hopes. 
 
 
 
Shortly thereafter, Chrysler Australia, which was now producing a re-badged Japanese Mitsubishi Galant, was sold to Mitsubishi Motors. The subcompact Horizon was just beginning to reach the U.S. market when the second gas crisis struck, devastating sales of Chrysler's larger cars and trucks, and the company now had no strong compact line to fall back on.
 
 
In desperation, the Chrysler Corporation on September 7, 1979, petitioned the United States government for US$1 billion in loan guarantees to avoid bankruptcy. At the same time, Lee Iacocca, a former Ford executive, was brought in to take the position of CEO, and proved a capable public spokesman for the firm. A somewhat reluctant Congress passed the "Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979" (Public Law 96-185) on December 20, 1979 (signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on January 7, 1980), prodded by Chrysler workers and dealers in every congressional district who feared the loss of their livelihoods.  With such help and a few innovative cars (such as the K-car platform), especially the invention of the minivan concept, a market where Chrysler brands are still important, Chrysler avoided bankruptcy and slowly fought its way back up.
 
 
 
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