The first Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth cars were named simply (e.g. Chrysler 80, Plymouth Deluxe); but each marque was a single car with numerous bodies. One exception was the Chrysler Imperial. The Airflow models were called “Airflow,” admittedly, and were followed by the more conventionally styled Airstream series. Finally, in 1938, Chrysler started a modern naming system with the Imperial, Custom Imperial, New York Special (later “New Yorker”), and Royal. In England, the Royal was replaced by the Kew and Wimbledon.
As Bill Watson pointed out, Chrysler names were clearly “royal.” Indeed, the 1939 Windsor was sadly not named for their Canadian headquarters and factory; it was technically the Royal Windsor, named for King George’s family. (The name may have been promoted by King George and Queen Elizabeth’s 1939 tour of the United States.) Badges would later become more “royal” as well; the 1951 Dodge ornament certainly tried to be aristocratic.
Plymouth’s first modern name was the 1939 Roadking but that model stood alone, joined by generic Deluxe and Special Deluxe type names. Dodge switched from these generic names with the 1949 Wayfarer, Coronet, and Meadowbrook—the latter named after the Dodge Brothers’ mansion. A coronet is a small crown; and Wayfarer was exported as the Kingsway. The cars did not change, only the names.
Two years later, Plymouth followed with the 1951 Savoy, Cambridge, Concord, and Cranbrook. Famed Plymouth historian Lanny Knutson pointed out that Cranbrook Drive, Concord Street, and Cambridge Avenue were all in the same suburban area. The Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills was a private school which hosted many executives’ children, and its school for girls, Kingswood, got its own model later. The Belvedere name also launched in 1951 for a Cranbrook trim level (it became a full model with the 1954s), likely named for the nearby golf course.
Hotels inspired the later Plymouth Plaza and Savoy, and eventually the Dodge St. Regis. The Dodge might, actually, have been named after the Studebaker St. Regis, but that was a long time before. In the 1960s, the naming routine was made rather more purposeful, though stories such as the naming of the Volare, Valiant, and Road Runner point that it has never been an exact science.
Chrysler marketers tended to get a little carried away in the 1970s and then again in the 21st century, sometimes going far too far.
Years ago, Ryan Connell told Allpar about the names shared between Chrysler and Star Trek ships. Star Trek had the names first more often than not; but Chrysler was (I believe) first with Valiant, Voyager, Challenger, Concord, and Dakota (Challenger was, incidentally, quite clearly based on the space shuttle, but who knows how that name was chosen?). I would appreciate guidance from any hard-core Trekkies out there; I am not hard core, and I had to do a good deal of searching to fill out this list.
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