Chrysler is one of the nation's "Big Three" auto companies. Its passenger car brands include Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.
On April 30, Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced an alliance with Fiat to form a new company. Chrysler was not able to obtain the necessary concessions from all of its lenders, which would have avoided the need for a bankruptcy proceeding. As a result, under the direction of the U.S. Treasury, Chrysler LLC and 24 of its wholly owned U.S. subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
Chrysler received several billion dollars in loans from the federal government over the past several months but huge declines in sales for cars and trucks pushed the company over the brink.
The bankruptcy will affect tens of thousands of jobs at Chrysler and its suppliers.
In May, the company announced that 789 of its 3,200 dealers would close by June 9. The closings will mean thousands of jobs lost in communities across the country.
Kansas-born Walter P. Chrysler (1875-1940), the son of a locomotive engineer, lived inside the world of the transportation industry throughout his life.
In 1912 he joined General Motors as manager of its Buick manufacturing plant, becoming president of the division four years later.
After parting ways with GM in 1919, Chrysler began a second career as a "doctor of ailing automakers" and under his leadership, the Maxwell Motor Corporation was restored to health and renamed the Chrysler Corporation.
Its subsequent success was directly attributable to the success of its initial product. The 1924 Chrysler Six, an all-new car offered two significant innovations -- a light, powerful, high-compression six-cylinder engine and the first ever four-wheel hydraulic brakes, in a moderately priced vehicle.
The 1928 acquisition of the Dodge Brothers firm made Chrysler the third of Detroit's "Big Three" automakers overnight and Walter Chrysler one of the most successful industrialists of his generation.
Known for many years as Detroit's "engineering company," Chrysler Corporation gained fame for creating power steering, power windows, the alternator, electronic fuel injection, the HEMI engine and dozens of other automotive innovations.
Its famous products include the world's first streamlined car, the 1934 Chrysler Airflow; the 1955 Chrysler 300 (named for its massive HEMI V8, the first American production engine to produce 300 horsepower) and the other sleek "Forward Look" cars of the '50s.
And that doesn't even take into consideration the Dodge and Plymouth "muscle cars" of the '60s, and the Chrysler minivan which is now recognized as one of the most successful vehicles of all time.
A merger brought the world-famous Jeep brand to Chrysler in 1987 and today's Jeep vehicles maintain the reputation for durability, established by predecessor models dating back to World War II.
The company merged in 1998 with Germany's Daimler-Benz. Cerberus Capital bought an 80% stake in Chrysler from Daimler-Benz in 2007 for $7.4 billion.
Updated May 14, 2009