An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

The Advanced New Chrysler Six is Unveiled – January 1924

  • Cry1
  • Photo courtesy of the Walter P. Chrysler Boyhood Home and Museum

By Michael Dudley:

The Chrysler Six was unveiled at the New York Automobile Show in January of 1924. It was produced by Maxwell and had been developed by the legendary team of Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton, and Carl Breer (ZSB). The car incorporated an improved Lockheed four-wheel hydraulic brake system; the first on a moderately priced production vehicle. The engine that ZSB designed resulted in a 201 cubic inch, high compression, L-head, six cylinder engine that was successfully tested to perform at 3,000 rpm for fifty hours. It produced 68 horsepower and was capable of powering the automobile at 75 mph.

  • Crye
  • The engine as seen above and full details below of the new Chrysler in the “Automotive Industries”, December 27, 1923 issue.

Cryp1       Cryp2      Cryp3

Walter P. Chrysler had sought the services of ZSB when he was asked to rescue the Willys Corporation from bankruptcy in February of 1920. While at Willys, the team worked on developing a car that would have been named Chysler and manufactured by Willys and introduced in 1922.  When the Willys Corporation was ultimately thrust into bankruptcy on November 30th, 1921, the team of three men were hired by Billy Durant when he formed Durant Motors.

Because Durant had bought the Willys plant in Elizabeth, New Jersey where ZSB had been working on the Chrysler prototype, they were able to continue to build and test prototype engines there. It was in November of 1922 that Chrysler saw the results of the final testing of the L-head engine and gave ZSB the go ahead to build a prototype car for Maxwell-Chalmers, who Chrysler he had been with since August 1920.  In April 1923 he approved the prototype and requested that five automobiles be completed for the New York Automobile Show.

The early years of Chrysler were promising, starting with 50,622 cars sold in 1924. The early success of the new car propelled Walter P. Chrysler to form the Chrysler Corporation on June 6th, 1925. By the end of 1926 the Corporation was producing up to 750 cars a day and for 1927 the goal was to roll 200,000 off the assembly line. While they didn’t reach 200,000, they were close with 192,083 – a number that wouldn’t be surpassed until 1965. With the introduction of the Plymouth (to compete in the low price market with Ford) and DeSoto (designed to fill the gap between the Plymouth and Chrysler) in 1928 along with the purchase of Dodge Brothers Company, Chrysler emerged as one of the Big Three in 1929 along with Ford and General Motors.

  • Crya
  • An example of the innovate engineering in the new Chrysler. The tubular front axle only weighed in at 27 pounds and worked well with the front-wheel brakes. It soon became popular for use on racing cars.

Photo at the top of the post from the Walter P. Chrysler Boyhood Home and Museum shows him standing with one of his early personal cars.  It’s interesting to note the “F.D.N.Y” plate in front of the radiator; letters that all Americans have connected with for the past dozen years but were also important to Chrysler.

Editors Note: We are happy to have Michael Dudley join us here on T.O.M. for occasional articles. Mike is a McPherson College Auto Restoration program graduate and has started his own shop, Flatwater Restorations.

9 responses to “The Advanced New Chrysler Six is Unveiled – January 1924

  1. I have a 1928 model 62, with a 6 cylinder. I know they had different 6’s but there is no way mine would will go 75 mph. How many different 6’s did they make? Is it true that the model number indicated top speed?

  2. That printed introduction to the Chrysler tells us that the power plant was built in the Chalmer’s factory. Is this another way of saying that it WAS a Chalmers?

  3. Yes, the model number was supposed to indicate top speed. The 1928 Model 62 has a smaller 180 cid engine and its top speed would be around 62 mph. Most cars of this era had low (numerically high) rear axle ratios which limited top speed but allowed them to be driven mostly in top gear. Compared to modern cars the power to weight ratio was not brilliant.

    The Chrysler engine was a completely new design in 1924. The Chalmers engine had a different bore and stroke. It made 45 hp at 2600 rpm from 224 cid.

  4. I have owned a 1925 Chrysler Six B Phaeton for 50 years and it is certainly an amazing car. The 200.6 cu. in displacement engine is beautifully balanced and vibration free, with its seven main bearing crank shaft and aluminum pistons. It is directly mounted to the frame, without any rubber insulation. I have fit it with a “Red Head’ which was offered in 1927 on Roadsters and as a retrofit for other B-70’s back to mid year 1925. This ups the compression ratio from 4:7 to 1.0, to 6: to 1.0, which gives the car even more power and impressive acceleration. I machined parts to make the original Penberthy Ball and Ball SV 26L two-stage carburetor operate flawlessly. It has a side venturi that begins opening at about 50% throttle giving more fuel/air to the engine and quicker pick up and power. As a kid, I heard old timers talk about the Chrysler cars with two stage carburetors, so I definitely wanted my rig to have a working unit on it. Final drive ratio was standard 4:6 to 1, but roadsters used 4:3 to 1 which easily gave them 70 mph capability. I have this 4:3 ratio in my car and 60 mph is comfortable, and at this speed there is no feed-back from the power plant that it is being over sped. With the original four wheel hydraulic brakes fit with modern lining, it stops impressively well. My car is painted in the original Chicle / Copra drab two-tone scheme, mixed exactly from the original paint that was completely protected from UV and weather. Those names are ugly, but actually the color combination is very nice.!

    • Hi James – would you be open to a discussion of the brakes of your car? I am having real trouble with these Lockheeds on a 1928 Triumph (they imported the brakes from Chrysler). I am in the UK – let me know as it would be a real help! Many thanks in advance, Richard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *