Right from the company’s beginnings in 1924, Chrysler built powerful and advanced automobiles. The B70 was a 70-mph car with an in-line six-cylinder engine, four-wheel hydraulic brakes and front and rear shock absorbers. In 1925, a Model 70 ran the 24-hour race at Le Mans, finishing 7th overall. In 1928, the Chrysler Le Mans Team included four Model 72 Roadsters, entered and driven by European racers who recognized the potential to unseat the formidable Bentley and Alfa Romeo teams. Two of the Chryslers were forced to retire, while the remaining pair finished 3rd and 4th overall, behind a Stutz and the winning Bentley. In 1929 two more Chryslers took on the Bentley team, this time with Model 75 and Model 77 roadsters that placed 6th and 7th: the first four places were held by Bentleys and in 5th place was a Stutz. In 1931 a CD8 and an Imperial, both with straight-eight engines, were entered in the 24-hour classic, but neither finished the race.
In 2001, Chicagoan Richard Newman was looking for a Pre-war car with which to compete in classic rallies. He’d already had significant success in a tiny Citroen 2CV competing in events like the London to Capetown, Peking to Paris and Around the World in 80 Days. He chose a 1929 Chrysler Model 75 Roadster and sent it to Florida where classic car restorer and fellow rallyist Robert O’Hara prepared it for the rigors of transcontinental competition. The Chrysler proved its worth by winning the Pre-war category of the 55-day Inca Trail Rally in South America in 2001, piloted by Newman and O’Hara, but suffered a heavy crash in 2003 during the Shield of Africa Rally. O’Hara rebuilt the car and in 2007 Newman and automotive journalist Kevin Clemens competed together with the Chrysler in the Peking to Paris Rally, a recreation of the original 1907 Peking to Paris race on its 100th anniversary.
Michael Jekot’s evocative artwork portrays the Chrysler powering across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia during the 2007 event.
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