There are a couple of different stories behind the Pentastar. It first showed up in ads with the intro of the 1963 models, and started gradually showing up on the cars behind the right front wheel during that year, making its way to key blanks with the '64 models. Prior to that, the Chrysler corporate logo was a pair of V-shapes usually shown pointing to the right. This image was part of Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" school of design, which new styling VP Elwood Engel wanted to distance himself from.
Later in the Sixties, Bob Hope had a TV variety show sponsored by the Chrysler Corporation. The opening graphics showed the segments of the Pentastar zooming into place with appropriate vroom-vroom noises, each piece accompanied by a callout of the brand it was supposed to represent - Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial, and Dodge trucks. Since this is as close to an official explanation as I ever heard, I accept this as probably the most likely. Alternate possibilities for that fifth piece also include the Canadian Fargo truck line, and the French-built Simca, but this is just me speculating out loud.
Bill Watson wrote:
Contrary to what many believe, it does NOT stand for for Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler, Imperial. There was much, much more to Chrysler in those days and the symbol was chosen to represent ALL of Chrysler - cars (Valiant, Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial, Hillman, Sunbeam, Singer, Humber, Simca), trucks (Dodge, Fargo, DeSoto, Commer, Karrier, Barreiros), industrial engines, marine engines, boats, transmissions, tanks, air conditioners, heating systems, chemicals, plastics, missiles, electronics, leasing, finance, etc. By the late 1960s Chrysler's pentastar was seen in virtually every country in the world and regardless of the product sold or service offered, it meant Chrysler Corporation..
Basically the design was chosen as it would be recognizable no matter which way you looked at it. It would look right even if the design was flipped or looked at upside down. Chrysler's president at the time (1962), Lynn Townsend, was after a symbol that could be used on all packaging, stationery, signage, etc. In those days everyone recognized a Howard Johnson's by its roof. And that was what Chrysler was after - a symbol that would be instantly recognizable as Chrysler. And when they were put on top of dealer signs, guess whose signs stuck out above the rest? You got it - Chrysler.
So, when you see that pentastar, you are seeing Chrysler, not just cars, not just trucks, but Chrysler - the whole corporation and all of its subsidiaries, divisions, products and services.
The original Chrysler logo, which vanished after 1954 from all but 1955-1956 Windsors, C300s, and 300Bs with manual transmissions*, and reappeared in 1994, is a rendition of a wax seal complete with ribbon affixed at the lower right. The thunderbolts above and below the name are actually "Z"s, a tribute to the prototype built before Chrysler took over Maxwell, which took the name "Zeder" from chief engineer Fred Zeder. (At the time, Chrysler was trying to keep development of the new car and his involvement in it a secret, probably still upset about the loss of the car that was supposed to be the first Chrysler. This car design was sold to Billy Durant as a liquidated asset in the Willys-Overland bankruptcy; Durant eventually built this car under the Flint name.)
From 1955 to the early 1980s, various stylized coats of arms appeared as Chrysler logos, none of which are believed to be the Chrysler (originally Kreussler) family crest. Lions also turned up in Chrysler emblems from 1955-1961, during which time Chrysler engines bore names such as "Golden Lion 413". Crowns are another recurring theme, fitting for a make with model names such as Royal, Windsor and Imperial.
* The stick cars kept the 1953-1954 steering column as well as the gearshift.
Dodge Brothers (pre-Chrysler) From Bill Watson.
The use of the Star of David in the Dodge Brothers logo goes back to 1914 and the first Dodge Brothers car built. It was last used on the 1938 Dodge.
Henry Ford was well-known for his anti-semitic beliefs, even backing a Dearborn, MI, newspaper that had very anti-semitic views. It is believed the Dodge Brothers adopted the Star of David to show they held no such beliefs (they were Methodists, by the way, albeit not very strict ones) and were not connected to Henry Ford any longer. It was just another kick at Henry Ford in some ways, although their best was the last when they forced Henry Ford to pay out millions in dividends after years of paying out nothing. This forced old Henry's hand and he bought out all non-Ford family stockholders. Thus the Ford Motor Company became a family owned firm.
Henry Ford was given an award by another anti-semitic person - Adolf Hitler (he was the only American to receive this award from the Third Reich; Hitler credited Ford with the Nazi philosophy). He was also in a business relationship of sorts with a third - Stalin. In the late 1920s / early 1930s the Ford Motor Company helped the Russian government set up production of cars and trucks based on the Model A Ford. Which is why the Russian "Jeep" of the 1940s used an engine that seemed to be a carbon copy of the 4-cylinder Model A engine - it was the Model A engine.
Mike Sealey noted: This story seems so in character with these guys, who loved to pull Henry's chain every chance they got. I forget which one it was who said, upon introducing their own car, "Just think of all the Ford owners who will one day want an automobile!" Remember, it's not just a Star of David, but one which has been superimposed over a world globe... makes me wonder how many discussions of Zionist world control theories John and Horace Dodge had to sit through...
The Dodge Brothers logo has been extensively discussed in the Dodge Brothers Club newsletter, which notes that in 1938, an export version with a single black triangle was used, and shortly afterwards, the Star-of-David logo disappeared completely. David Zimmerman wrote that he suspected that the Dodge Brothers may have believed that certain export markets would not buy a car with the link to the Jewish symbol.
Plymouth (by Allpar)
The original logo appears to have been a sailing ship, to bring Plymouth Rock to mind. This was resurrected in the late 1990s. In the 1970s, Plymouth used a sloping, tall triangle "rocket ship" logo with two colors, featuring it on steering wheels, hubcaps, etc.
The original logo was the good ship Mayflower, and was indeed brought back in the 1990s. This emblem was joined by a coat of arms that is believed to be the seal of a county in Massachusetts where the Pilgrims first landed. The coat of arms, with the Mayflower either part of it or above it, appeared in one form or another from 1949 to 1958.
The rocket ship emblem referred to in the text actually first appeared in 1959. The first one shared space with the last appearance of the Mayflower until it was brought back in the 1990s; the 1959 Mayflower is noteworthy in that this is the only year where the ship was clearly shown facing forward. A stylized gold forward-facing Mayflower was also used on the trunklid and most grilles in 1957, but was so abstract that many people had no idea what it was supposed to be.
Birth of the Pentastar. (Per Chrysler Technical Service Buletin No. D63-87.)
Effective approximately February 5, 1963 the new Chrysler Corporation insignia - "Pentastar" was incorporated in production on the right front fender of all 1963 Dart, Dodge 330, 440, Polara, Polara 500 and 880 models.
Owners of cars built prior to that who desired to have the "Pentastar" installed or for unsold cars in dealer stock, a "Pentastar" Package, P/N 2495798 was available free of charge for 90 days after the announcement.
Dealers were instructed to drill a 5/32" hole in the right front fender, with a 1/8" hole above it.
The end of the Pentastar. (Chrysler fades out on a tarnished icon.)
Chrysler's pentastar has been slowly fading for several years, as the company was absorbed into DaimlerChrysler and as it shifted to the heritage mark of the wings and seal.
But out on the city streets the five-pointed star, the emblem that stuck so defiantly from the hood of the K-cars, has remained the face of the Chrysler division. Even its program for premium dealers is called the Five-Star program in deference to the once-mighty mark.
But this fall the gradual dimming will be more shooting-star like as the automaker reportedly will remove the 38-year-old symbol from nearly all remaining vestiges during the upcoming 2001 model year. Soon, the only reminder left might be the large window at the top of the former headquarters in Auburn Hills.
Long the trademark of the Chrysler Corp. as well as a logo on Chrysler brand vehicles, the mark already has been replaced on vehicles with the winged Chrysler medallion, derived from the original brand identity in 1927. The merged Chrysler/Daimler-Benz company, DaimlerChrysler, has used only its name, without a logo.
But despite its diminished use, the logo that first debuted in 1962 still was in liberal use in dealer communications and all signage and in many product areas. But as the new brand positions shake out, the pentastar is losing out.
Test Chrysler dealerships are expected to start replacing the 38-year-old pentastar with the new winged Chrysler logo this summer and fall and keys and other items also will lose the pentastar with the 2001 models. Eventually, the Chrysler brand will be exclusively winged.
Mitchell Hebert, who owns Chrysler dealerships in New Orleans, said when he finished a new dealership location recently he put up a less expensive, "unofficial" pentastar sign that he had custom made with the anticipation he'd soon be getting his wings and have to take it down anyway.
"I hate to see the pentastar go - but it's going to be gone," he said.
The shift comes at a key time for the Chrysler brand. DaimlerChrysler will kill the Plymouth brand this fall and the former Plymouth Voyager minivan will become an entry-level Chrysler minivan. The discount minivan along with the trendy PT Cruiser car/truck/minivan hybrid hot rod are pushing the Chrysler brand down into a price territory that was long the exclusive domain of Plymouth or Dodge.
Hebert said he was initially worried what might happen with the loss of Plymouth, but is very upbeat with the new lineup and expected resulting bump in sales.
(source: Jeff Green)
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