The new Chrysler, known as the Model B, was a sensation. Priced head-to-head with the Buick Six, it was more than 700 pounds lighter than its rival, and correspondingly more nimble. Its engine boasted a 4.7:1 compression ratio, compared to the Buick's 3.5:1. Chrysler advertised that the new machine would accelerate from five to 25 miles an hour in seven seconds, which was considered phenomenal performance in 1924.
It would do 70 to 75 miles-per-hour top speed, much faster than the Buick-and within five miles an hour of the new Packard straight eight, a car that cost more than twice as much as the Chrysler. Furthermore, the new Chrysler featured hydraulic brakes, giving it stopping power to match its speed.
Other innovations, most unheard-of in production automobiles at that time, included aluminum pistons, full-pressure lubrication, tubular front axle, air cleaner, oil filter with removable element, and Lovejoy hydraulic shock absorbers -- all as standard equipment. The fully counterbalanced crankshaft was cradled in seven main bearings. Altogether, the new Chrysler stood out as a superb piece of engineering.
Compared to the competition, the Chrysler B-70, as it was called, was a relatively small car. The wheelbase was more than seven inches shorter than that of the Buick; overall, the Chrysler measured only 160 inches without bumpers, which was the way cars were delivered in those days. As a touring car, it weighed only 2,730 pounds, compared to the Buick's 3,455.
Worse, the Chrysler came to market at a time when competition was especially intense, forcing a number of veteran automakers -- Revere, Stevens-Duryea, Winton, Premier, Dort, Dorris, and Columbia among them -- to the wall. Skeptics said the new car would never sell.
But it was peppy, capable of zipping from five to 50 miles an hour in just 13 seconds. It was maneuverable, handsome to look at, and a delight to drive. And of course, it was an instant success. The B-70 was so successful, in fact, that it remained in production until July 1925.
Nine body styles were offered, ranging from the popular five-passenger touring to a pretentious town car. There was even a sedan called the Crown Imperial, the first automobile ever to bear that famous title. All nine were fitted to the same 112.75-inch wheelbase and powered by the identical 68-horsepower, six-cylinder engine.
On the next page, learn how the Chrysler Corporation came into being.