Media post: The Chevrolet Truck Tradition

Chevrolet Model 490 Pickup 19161916 Chevrolet Model 490 Pickup

It didn’t take long for people to realize that early cars could transport more than people; they could transport freight and goods. Soon, enterprising dealers were selling basic car chassis so that buyers could make install wooden beds on them and use them to haul things. In fact, small operations sprung up all around the country to manufacture these early trucks.

It didn’t take Detroit long to catch on to this trend and start manufacturing their own trucks. In 1916, Chevrolet was one of the first to offer a “pickup truck” right from the factory. It was a huge hit.

By 1918, Chevrolet was offering several factory-designed 4-cyl pickup truck models. Some of them could be ordered customized with wooden cabs, cargo boxes and panel bodies to suit their customer’s needs. The sales staff at Century 3 Chevrolet of West Mifflin, PA a full-service Chevy dealer said the 1918 Chevrolet truck chassis was priced at just $595.

Because trucks often required more power than ordinary passenger cars, Chevrolet started to build more heavy duty chassis. These included heavy steel frames, larger wheels, dual rear tires and more powerful engines. In the early 1940s, Chevrolet started producing a more powerful inline six cylinder engine, “the Stovebolt Six”, which became the mainstay power-plant in Chevrolet cars and trucks for decades to come.

The US entered WWII in 1941 and the entire American automobile industry switched over to production of war goods. Domestic automobile production did not resume until 1946 when the war was over. In 1947, Chevrolet introduced its Advance Design Truck Line to satisfy pent-up, post-war demand. Rather than settle for a basic utility look, the designers now made the styling attractive with rounded fenders and dome-like cab. During the Advance Design Trucks’ run, there was a measurable shift among Chevrolet customers from buying passenger cars to buying trucks. People started to buy them as their basic transportation. In fact, before WWII, the ratio of Chevrolet cars sold to trucks had been about 4 to 1. By 1950, the ratio of cars to trucks was closer to 2.5 to 1. Chevrolet also became the first brand to sell more than 2 million vehicles in a single year.

By 1967, the Federal Interstate Highway System was completed which gave motorists access to the entire nation. Trucks soon played a major role in transporting goods and freight country wide. To power this new generation of freight haulers, Chevrolet offered a variety of small- and big-block V-8 engines. It was during this time that Chevrolet began a long running TV and Radio advertising program that included the legendary jiggle “See the USA in your Chevrolet”.

In 1999, the Chevrolet Silverado was introduced. The new Silverado trucks resulted from the most intensive truck development program yet undertaken by GM. It was the first time that GM focused efforts closely on providing passenger car-level interior comfort and convenience features in their truck models. Those who owned the early Chevy trucks would be amazed at what they would see today. The newest trucks ride just as well as a fine car and are loaded with features. There isn’t such thing as a “utility truck” anymore, they are more like cars than ever before.

Media post: 6 Things You Should Never Do After a Car Accident

No one likes getting into a car accident but unfortunately accidents happen. To make things worse, often after a collision, your body goes into fight or flight mode, and clear thinking becomes difficult. To prepare you just in case you find yourself in an accident at some point, Jaguar of Naperville, a full-service Jaguar dealer, gave us a list of six things you should never do after a car accident.

Leave your car in the road

Unless your car is damaged so badly that it can’t be driven, it is always best to pull off to the side of the road after an accident. Don’t worry about preserving the scene for the police when they arrive. It is far more important for you and any other cars involved to pull off to the side where it is safe to exit your vehicle and wait for the police.

Flee the scene

Leaving the scene of an accident is a really bad thing to do. In fact, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. This advice certainly applies to rather minor accidents also. If you back into a parked car or clip someone’s quarter panel, you may be tempted to conclude that “its nothing” and leave. The problem is that if someone sees you or you are captured on a surveillance camera then you might get a surprise visit from the police and a court appearance date.

Attempt to clean up

Some accidents are severe enough to make a big mess in the road. Don’t be tempted to clean it up. Although it is a good intention, it is usually dangerous to do. Typically the police or highway department will clean things up – that’s their job.

Neglect to call the police

Regardless of how small the incident may be, the police need to be notified. First, not reporting any sort of accident is an offense in most states. Second, you want the police to show up to collect data and file a report for insurance purposes. If the insurance companies involved try to settle claims without a police report, it’s just a mess. The insurance adjuster and others will not know what really happened and your view will likely differ from the other person. Be smart – always call the police.

Assume aches and pains are just bruises

Playing it cool and acting like “nothing hurts” may save you an ambulance ride to the local hospital but that might not be advantageous. The smart thing is to get any potential injuries documented so that if you find out later on that you were actually injured, then you have documentation to prove it.

Ignore other vehicles involved

Our final tip pertaining to what not to do after an accident has everything to do with not only common courtesy but is the smartest thing to do after an accident. Once everyone is safely over to the side of the road, go check in on the other driver and passengers. You may be involved in the aftermath of the accident for some time so getting to know the other parties is a smart idea.

Media post: The history of AC

First air-conditioned auto

Today, we take air conditioning (AC) in automobiles for granted because the systems are on virtually every car on the road. However, there was a time when air conditioning in cars was “the newest thing” and an unusual automotive accessory. Let’s hop in the way back machine and take a look.

The first automotive AC systems came out of New York City in the early 1930s. According to a 1933 Popular Science article, these systems were custom installed by a third party. They utilized a large compressor mounted under the floor boards that was similar to those found in home refrigerators. These early automotive air conditioning systems were expensive and they were only outfitted in luxury cars and limousines.

Packard was the first company to offer AC as a factory-installed option. They advertised this mechanical marvel by stating “Forget the heat this summer in the only air-conditioned car in the world.” Unlike the dash mounted units today, the cooling coil (evaporator) was located in the trunk with a fan blowing cold air into the passenger compartment. In order to turn the system off, you have to remove the drive belt from the A/C compressor. The only on-off switch was on the fan. One of the major issues that slowed adoption of AC at this time was simply cost. To purchase a Packard with AC cost an additional $274 at a time when the average yearly income is $1,368.

General Motors was next. In 1941 Cadillac produced approximately 300 cars with AC, which like the Packard, was located in the trunk. These systems also had no compressor clutch so the only control was by shutting the fan on and off. Cadillac improved on this after World War II by developing controls. The only drawback to this “improved” system was that the driver had to climb into the back seat to operate it, as the controls were mounted on the shelf behind the rear seat.

Lakeland Chrysler of Greenville, PA, a full-service Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, says Chrysler offered air conditioning as a factory installed option in 1942. Called “Airtemp,” it was similar to the Packard design and three 1942 DeSotos with this system are still known to exist today. Some considered the Chrysler “Airtemp” system a better design because it ran quieter and unlike the GM system, it had flat ducts located behind the rear seat that directed cool air toward the ceiling of the car. This preventing the air from blowing directly at passengers like the other systems did.

It wouldn’t be until 1954 that an affordable air conditioning unit could be mass produced by the auto industry. GM first equipped its 1954 Pontiacs with this new system. It was the first to offer a magnetic clutch on the compressor, so when it was not in use, no power was needed.

Not much has been documented about Ford’s air conditioning development, but by 1956 AC was offered on most Ford models. Ford’s “Select-Aire” system was the first that directed air through the vents just below the windshield. Ford also offered a dealer-installed air conditioner called Polar-Aire which was a stand-alone hang-on unit.

Today, automotive AC systems are a mature technology and are installed on 95% of the cars sold in the United States. They are usually integrated into cabin temperature control systems so that they work with the cabin heating system. On many automobiles, one can set the temperature one desires the cabin to be at and the system either turns on the AC or the heater depending on the outside temperature.

Media post: The History of the MINI

Austin-Mini-UK

European cars destined for the European market have always been small and fuel efficient. This is because, in Europe, gasoline and diesel fuel have been expensive to purchase for decades.. And, in the mid-1970s, the crisis in the Gulf of Suez occurred and the very supply petroleum was threatened. This really drove the message home and wasn’t long before the European automobile industry realized they needed to react aggressively.

Lord Nuffield of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) was one of the first to get involved. In the late 1950s, he directed his chief design engineer, Sir Alec Issigonis, to begin the design of a special new automobile. This British-built car would be larger than the other ultra-efficient microcars already on the market. It would be able to carry four adults yet be extremely fuel efficient. The car was appropriately called the “Mini.”

The first production Minis made their debut in 1959. It was the first mass-produced automobile to have a transversally-placed engine. By doing this, the Mini could be made smaller and this led to more interior room than previous chassis configurations. When the cars hit the dealerships, they flew off the lots. The motoring public loved this car because of its impressive interior room and sporty, fuel-efficient, engine. It wasn’t long before celebrities and royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II, were buying Minis and it became Britain’s ”must-have” automobile.

In 1960, the Mini was imported into the US market and sales continued until 1967. During that time only some 10,000 minis were sold. Unfortunately, BMC pulled out the American market in 1968 because of the new federal Safety and Emissions Regulations required by the federal government. A British car dealer we know, Land Rover of Naperville, IL, a full-service Land Rover dealer, says the original Mini has become the most popular British car ever built with some 5.3 million units sold. BMC stopped production in 1972.

Yet the Mini refused to go away. In 2000, BMW purchased the brand and announced a successor to the original British version. It is now called the MINI (all capital letters) and is built in Germany. The current MINI is 21 inches longer and 12 inches wider than the original and weighs 2300 lbs, a full 700 lbs more than the original Mini. Today, the BMW-built MINI is popular car with global sales of over 100,000 units per year.

The future of the BMW-built MINI is quite bright.

Media post: The real reason the Plymouth Superbird’s wing was so huge

Plymouth Superbird

One of the wildest vehicles to ever come out of Detroit was the Plymouth Superbird. With a wedge-shaped nose and a monstrous rear-mounted wing, the Superbird was a very unusual looking car. Today, it is still the subject of frequent conversation and a common topic involves the size of the rear wing. Car enthusiasts have wondered for years why the rear wing was mounted so high on the rear trunk and the conventional answer to that question is “so the trunk can be opened.” As it turns out, that answer is wrong. Before we explore the real reason that the rear wing was mounted so high, let’s take a look at why the Superbird was made.

Many people don’t know that the Plymouth Superbirds really existed for one reason only and the folks at Patrick Autobody of Schaumburg, IL, a factory-certified body shop, nailed the answer. It was to win Nascar races. Back in the day, winning at Nascar was a massive promotional event that could sell a lot of cars. Most of the big manufacturers wanted to race there. However, in order to compete at Nascar the rules stated that you had to drive a car that was “available to the general public.” The Superbird was basically a Plymouth Road Runner that designers added an aerodynamic nose-cone, smoothed out the body, and added a rear wing – a very large rear wing – and you could buy it from any Plymouth dealer.

If you take a look at a photo of an original Superbird, you can’t miss the huge wing mounted high off the trunk. Today a popular “fact” is that the rear wing was mounted so high so the trunk could be opened. This concept is even repeated in the Wikipedia article on the Superbird. However, the designer of the car and its companion car, the Dodge Daytona, says it had nothing to do with the trunk being able to open. Myth busted.

The designer of the Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona was John Pointer. Pointer was a genuine rocket scientist who came over from Chrysler’s missile division (Yes, Chrysler had one) and was asked to make the 1968 Dodge Charger “go faster.” When told he could do anything he wanted, he drew a picture of the car and added two items: a nosecone on the front and a giant wing on the trunk. Pointer was also the engineer tasked with making the first prototypes of the wing, and he spent quite a bit of time at the Chelsea Proving Grounds refining it.

Years later when Pointer was asked why he went with such a tall wing, he said it was simple, “To put it into clean air.” When asked him about the trunk-opening theory, he stated, “Who cared about the trunk? They had asked him to make the car go fast.” So, the Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird wings were not placed absurdly high simply so the trunk would open fully. It was simply put there to get it into clean air. The fact that the trunk also happened to open at the height is happenstance.

Media post: The 4 Types of Car Transmissions

dual_clutch_transmission. Picture courtesy eagletransmission.comDual Clutch Transmission 

Originally, all cars had manual transmissions; you either learned how to operate a clutch and gearshift or you didn’t drive. Today, there are many more options for you to choose from and each has its own positives and negatives. In this article, we will discuss the 4 basic types of transmissions so you have a good idea for what options are available when you are looking at buying either a new or used car.

Manual transmissions

The simplest type of transmission still in use is the manual. This is how they work: A vehicle with a manual transmission uses a friction clutch to connect the engine’s rotating flywheel to the transmission’s input shaft. From there, a fixed set of gears are engaged using gear-selector connected to the gear shift. The gear shift, of course, is what is operated by the driver to change gears. Power is then fed to the output shaft which connects to the wheels. It’s a simple design.

In spite of fewer and fewer being sold each year, the manual has a lot of advantages over the more complicated transmissions.  Its simplicity means that it’s less likely to need expensive repairs than any other transmission type, and if it does have a problem, it’s likely to be cheaper to repair. Perhaps the most compelling case for a stick shift is the driving experience itself. For true driving enthusiasts, nothing can beat the feeling of a manual transmission.

Automatic transmissions

In the early days of automobiles all vehicles were manual but that didn’t mean that every driver enjoyed the experience of using one. Many drivers wanted something easier to use. As a result, after much research, General Motors introduced the first fully automatic transmission in the early 1940s. Though quite complicated internally, the driving experience was greatly simplified.

Though most automatics can’t match a manual for performance or fuel economy, the ones made today are much closer than previous generations. In fact, Patrick BMW of Schaumburg, IL, a full service BMW dealer says some BMWs with automatic transmissions offer the same gas mileage as the models optioned with standard transmissions.

Continuously variable transmissions

Many automakers today offer Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT). CVT transmissions don’t have any gears at all. Instead, they use a belt and pulleys to produce an infinite range of ratios. The car’s main computer decides how to adjust the pulleys to create the optimal ratio for the particular driving situation. Since they’re not as complicated as automatics, CVTs are less prone to failure and costly repairs.

Dual-clutch transmissions

The newest transmission type is a Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT). Think of it as a hybrid between an automatic and manual transmission. In a DCT, there are separate clutches for both odd and even gears, which allows for incredibly fast shifts. Like the other automatic transmissions, the shifting of the gears and clutch movement is controlled by solenoids and a computer. DCT transmissions offer cutting-edge performance with ultra-fast gear changes. Currently, these gearboxes are mainly found on race and high-end sports cars but they are starting to appear on production automobiles.

Media post: The Story of the Tucker Automobile Company

1948 Tucker Sedan

Not many cars have ever captured the public’s imagination quite like the Tucker. Though just 51 Tuckers were built, they were raced at NASCAR, became the subject of the Francis Ford Coppola film Tucker: A Man and His Dream, and today have become some of the most valuable cars in the world. Few people know the fascinating story behind the actual company, though. Read on and we will relate the amazing story of the Tucker Company.

The United States entered World War II in 1941 and the production of automobiles essentially stopped. All the major automobile manufacturers switched over to making war machinery. It was out of this environment that the Tucker automobile emerged. Preston Tucker was a brilliant engineer who came to prominence during the war with his “Tucker Turret,” a rotating gun turret that saw duty in a wide variety of Allied aircraft. As the war entered into its final stages, Tucker’s mind began to switch over to peacetime projects. First and foremost, he knew that when the war ended that Americans would be eagerly snapping up new cars and this was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him to pursue his dream: his own car. Thus began the design of the Tucker 48.

To start his company, Tucker took out full-page advertisements in major newspapers around the country with bold tag lines like “The First New Car in 50 Years,” and “The Car of the Future.” Although a prototype didn’t exist yet, Tucker claimed he had been working on the car for 15 years and that it would be cutting edge. He promised four-wheel disc brakes, a fuel-injected 589 cubic-inch engine with direct-drive, run-flat tires, seat belts, and numerous safety features. With demand starting to build, Tucker took his show on the road, and began a highly-publicized national fundraising tour.

Within a few months, Tucker had raised over $28 million. With this capital, he bought a plant in Chicago, appointed an impressive board of directors and started to hire workers. But even at this early stage, money problems started to appear. In order to keep cash flowing, Tucker first took the company public and then began selling dealer franchises and accessories. Keep in mind this is for cars that hadn’t been built yet. Eventually, the Securities and Exchange Commission got involved in this “creative” method of financing a new business. After a thorough investigation, they shut the company down on March 3, 1949. Soon thereafter, Tucker and his board of directors were indicted for fraud. The company’s assets, including the 51 assembled Tuckers, were auctioned off by the government in 1950. Unfortunately, as the sales staff at Patrick Dealer Group of Schaumburg, IL, explained to us, this was the end of the company.

Today, the Tucker remains such a fascinating story not only because of the wildly advanced car that he promised but also because of the way he approached the building of the Tucker Company. With the sheer power of showmanship, he was able to raise enough money to start a company that actually could have competed with the major automobile manufacturers. Unfortunately, his brilliance as an entrepreneur and businessman became his downfall.

Media post: Car Designs that Illustrated the Times

Cadillac Eldorado

The styling of automobiles typically reflect the times they were designed in. For example, the art deco details of the cars of the 1930s reflect the architectural and graphic trends of the times. The bullet shaped fronts and elevated tail fins of the 1950s cars reflected the beginning of the space age. The beefy muscle cars of the 1960s illustrated the fascination America was developing with raw performance. Courtesy of Patrick Volvo of Schaumburg, Il, a full-service Volvo dealer, we survey some examples of cars that perfectly represented the feelings of the times.

1940s – Tucker

Most post-war cars were warmed-over designs of pre-war models. The reason for this is pretty simple: during the war virtually all of the car manufacturers were building war machinery, not cars. Preston Tucker, a brilliant automotive visionary, however, had other ideas. During the war, he fleshed out his design for a radical new kind of car and as soon as the war was over (1945), he founded Tucker Motors. With a new company and a radical new car, he immediately went on the road to secure funding. Unfortunately this was via questionable methods and he failed to raise enough to keep operations going. The result was that Tucker built just 51 cars before he ran out of money and the company collapsed. By 1950, Tucker Motors became a national scandal and the federal government indicted the company’s executives for fraud. Today, because of their rarity, Tuckers have become one of the most valuable collector cars available.

1950s – Cadillac Eldorado

Launched in 1953, the Cadillac Eldorado was an ultra-exclusive flagship model that attracted the rich and famous worldwide. Standard equipment included GMs’s Hydra-Matic drive, wraparound windshield, special cut-down doors, leather-and-cloth upholstery, chrome wire wheels, fog lamps, white sidewall tires, vanity and side mirrors, and a “high-tech” signal-seeking radio. By the end of the 1950s, the redesigned four-door Eldorado cost more than a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and was considered one of the most elegant cars in the world.

1960s – Ford Mustang

Sporty 2-door cars came before Lee Iacocca’s Mustang but nothing has ever matched its level of popularity. Introduced at 1964 World’s Fair, the Ford Mustang perfectly tapped into the youth market and was a tremendous success. Ford sold 1.7 million Mustangs in its first 36 months. The Ford Mustang has been credited for kicking off the great pony car battle of the 1960s. By 1967, it had been joined the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird and the Plymouth Barracuda but it held its own in sales. Today original Mustangs command impressive prices in the collector car marketplace.

1970s Dodge Daytona

The Dodge Daytona was a wild looking car. With its pointed beak and large rear wing, many wondered why this car was designed so flamboyantly. As it turns out, the Dodge Daytona was built for one reason – to compete at the 1970 NASCAR series. Back in those days, winning at NASCAR meant vastly increased car sales. However, while its beak and rear wing may have made a difference on the track, its looks were considered goofy by the average car buyer. It didn’t sell very well. However, driven by Richard Petty at the 1970 NASCAR series, the car won many races and firmly established Dodge as a manufacturer of serious racecars.

Media post: The History of the Chrysler C-300

1955 C-300

In 1955, Chrysler built a car that stunned the motoring public. It was called the C-300 because its 331 cu. in. hemi engine, outfitted with such power-enhancing items as two four-barrel carburetors, a competition camshaft and solid valve lifters, developed a true 300HP. It was the first American car to do so.

The C-300s were offered only a limited number colors and trim, and only in two door hardtops or convertibles. They could be ordered with a standard transmission in certain years, but most owners seemed to prefer the convenience of the 2 speed PowerFlite automatic. The C-300 came stock with an extra firm suspension which allowed the car to sit lower and corner far better than most other cars on the market. Other options, such as “Natural Cowhide” leather upholstery, wire wheel and a fully loaded instrumentation panel, made the C-300 the “ultimate sports sedan”.

The C-300 was designed by Virgil Exner and was the first example of Chrysler’s “Fast Look.” The Fast Look design was unusually simple for the times and did not have the multiple stripes of chrome that most 1950s model cars were embellished with. The illusion portrayed by the Fast Look Chryslers was of “fast, forward movement.” It was a design style that distinguished the Chrysler line through the 1950s. According to Pearson Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram of Richmond, VA, a full-service Mopar dealer, at $4,110, the new 300 was the second most costly Chrysler car. Only the big $4,209 Town & Country station wagon cost more.

Oh, and the C-300 was fast. Well known car racer Tim Flock raced the C-300 at Daytona in 1955, winning both the “road course” and the “flying mile.” The 1956 model won both events that year as well. In fact, the Chrysler C-300s dominated all the NASCAR tracks during 1955 and 1956 seasons. There was actually a movement to ban the C-300 from NASCAR events because the power to weight ratio was unreasonably high.

Some owners were less than thrilled about the performance aspects of the C-300. The camshaft was tuned for high horsepower and caused a rather rough idle. The exhaust was more free-flow than most other cars and had a throaty rumbling sound to it. Perhaps the most obvious characteristic, though, was the ride of the C-300. No question, it had a stiffness to it as befits any vehicle with a performance pedigree.

In 1959, Chrysler replaced the 331 with a 350 cu. in. wedge head design that developed 340 horsepower. For 1960, the wedge style engine was equipped with the unique and exotic cross-ram carburetor induction system. This new arrangement provided much higher torque at lower speeds in addition to substantial power at higher RPMs.

The C-300 was built through 1965 when Chrysler retired the name. In all, there were 14,268 hardtops and 2,588 convertibles C-300s produced, not large volume for 11 years of production. The C-300 established a great engineering tradition that is evident in this top-end automobile that some think of as the “Duesenburg of the 1950s”.

Media post: The history of FIAT

Fiat 500 Italy 1957

It is a rare person that doesn’t know about FIATs. This diminutive little Italian car seems to be zipping around just about every country in the world. Few people know much about the history of FIAT, though. Let’s take a look at this feisty company and see how far they have come since their humble beginnings in the late 1800s.

The name FIAT represents “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino” which translated means “Factory Italian Automobile Turin”. FIAT was founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli. Their first model, the 4HP, appeared the same year. Demand was established quickly and soon FIAT automobiles were the rage.

In the late 1910s, Giovanni Agnelli, now its managing director, visited Henry Ford’s Detroit factory. He had heard about the explosive demand for automobiles in the United States and wanted to see how Henry Ford was making so them so quickly. The answer, as you probably know, was “the assembly line” and Agnelli returned to Italy with this knowledge. He soon started the construction of FIAT’s enormous Lingotto factory which became the largest factory in Europe at the time. It was so big that it actually had an oval test track on its roof. Lingotto was the pride of Italy soon became the symbol of Italian industry and engineering. Production grew rapidly, leading to the construction of a second plant in Turin. Before the break out of WWII, FIAT employed over 50,000 workers and was a driving economic force to Italy. After WWII broke out, however, much of FIAT automobile production was paused and equipment for the war effort was produced.

Giovanni Agnelli controlled FIAT until his death in 1945. His family held a majority of shares but no family member succeeded his position. In his place, Vittorio Valletta became the chairman. After WWII, consumer auto production resumed again and from 1959 to 1969, FIAT’s output rose from 425,000 to an amazing 1,751,400 cars per year.

In the 1970s, FIATs unbridled prosperity was tempered. FIAT was hit by strikes and some unsuccessful product designs. The world-wide oil crisis of 1974 should have helped out but by then the company had already expanded its product range into big cars and even exotic cars such as FIAT 130. Furthermore, its reputation had been damaged earlier by the use of inferior quality Russian steel and unfortunate quality control problems. In fact, Stone’s Town and Country Motors of Rexburg, ID, a long time Mopar dealer, says FIAT had to pull out from the North America market due to bad press and lagging sales.

During the 1980s and 1990s, there were ups and down and to its new CEO Sergio Marchionne, it was increasingly obvious that FIAT could not fight against the Japanese and Korean invasions by itself. In 2000, it surprised the world by merging with General Motors. This allowed it to share engineering and production costs with a much larger company. However, in 2005, Fiat and GM separated and in 2009 FIAT took control of Chrysler Corporation. Today the connection of FIAT and Chrysler seems like the ideal partnership. FIAT is robust and building fine automobiles.