Chrysler Europe

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Chrysler Europe
Industry Automotive
Fate Taken over
Predecessor Barreiros
Rootes Group
Founded 1967
Defunct 1978
Headquarters Whitley, Coventry, UK
Poissy, France
Products Automobiles
Parent Chrysler Corporation
Subsidiaries Chrysler (UK)
Chrysler (France)

Chrysler Europe was the American automotive company Chrysler's operations in Europe from 1967 through 1979. It was formed from the merger of the French Simca, British Rootes and Spanish Barreiros companies. In 1979, Chrysler divested these operations to PSA Peugeot Citroën.

Automotive industry range of organizations associated with motor vehicles, such as automobiles, trucks and motorcycles

The automotive industry is a wide range of companies and organizations involved in the design, development, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of motor vehicles. It is one of the world's largest economic sectors by revenue. The automotive industry does not include industries dedicated to the maintenance of automobiles following delivery to the end-user, such as automobile repair shops and motor fuel filling stations.

Chrysler automotive brand manufacturing subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Chrysler is one of the "Big Three" automobile manufacturers in the United States, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The original Chrysler Corporation was founded in 1925 by Walter Chrysler from the remains of the Maxwell Motor Company. In 1998, it was acquired by Daimler-Benz, and the holding company was renamed DaimlerChrysler. After Daimler divested Chrysler in 2007, the company existed as Chrysler LLC (2007–2009) and Chrysler Group LLC (2009–2014) before merging in 2014 with Fiat S.p.A. and becoming a subsidiary of its successor Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In addition to the Chrysler brand, FCA sells vehicles worldwide under the Dodge, Jeep, and Ram nameplates. Furthermore, the subsidiary includes Mopar, its automotive parts and accessories division, and SRT, its performance automobile division.

Simca company

Simca was a French automaker, founded in November 1934 by Fiat and directed from July 1935 to May 1963 by Italian Henri Théodore Pigozzi. Simca was affiliated with Fiat and, after Simca bought Ford's French activities, became increasingly controlled by the Chrysler Group. In 1970, Simca became a subsidiary and brand of Chrysler Europe, ending its period as an independent company. Simca disappeared in 1978, when Chrysler divested its European operations to another French automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroën. PSA replaced the Simca brand with Talbot after a short period when some models were badged as Simca-Talbots.


PSA rebadged the former Chrysler and Simca models with the revived Talbot marque, but abandoned the brand for passenger cars in 1987, although it continued on commercial vehicles until 1994.

Among the remaining Chrysler Europe assets still in existence are the former Simca factory in Poissy, the former Barreiros plant in the Madrid suburb Villaverde, which both serve as major Peugeot-Citroën assembly plants, and the Rootes Group research and development complex in Whitley, Coventry, which is now the headquarters of Jaguar Land Rover.

PSA Poissy Plant

The PSA Poissy plant is a French car plant belonging to PSA Peugeot Citroën located in Poissy, Yvelines. It is dedicated to the manufacturer's Platform 1 cars, which are cars in the subcompact class, with an annual output of approximately 200,000 cars.

Poissy Commune in Île-de-France, France

Poissy is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France in north-central France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris, 23.8 km (14.8 mi) from the centre of Paris.

Barreiros (manufacturer) Spanish manufacturer of engines, trucks, buses, tractors and automobiles

Barreiros was a Spanish manufacturer of engines, trucks, buses, tractors and automobiles. It was a Chrysler Europe subsidiary from 1969 to 1978.


Chrysler Corporation had never had much success outside North America, contrasting with Ford's worldwide reach and General Motors' success with Opel, Vauxhall, Holden and Bedford. Chrysler first established an interest in the French-based Simca in 1958, buying 15% of the Simca stocks from Ford. In 1963 Chrysler increased their stake to a controlling 63% [1] [2] by purchasing further stock from Fiat.

Ford Motor Company automotive brand manufacturer

Ford Motor Company is a multinational automaker that has its main headquarter in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. The company sells automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and most luxury cars under the Lincoln brand. Ford also owns Brazilian SUV manufacturer Troller, an 8% stake in Aston Martin of the United Kingdom and a 32% stake in Jiangling Motors. It also has joint-ventures in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Russia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is controlled by the Ford family; they have minority ownership but the majority of the voting power.

Opel German automotive brand, subsidiary of Groupe PSA

Opel is a German automobile manufacturer, a subsidiary of French automaker Groupe PSA since August 2017. From 1929 until 2017, Opel was owned by American automaker General Motors. Opel vehicles are sold in the United Kingdom under the Vauxhall brand and in Australasia under the Holden brand.

Vauxhall Motors British automotive manufacturing and distribution company

Vauxhall Motors Limited is a British car brand, which is a fully owned subsidiary of German car manufacturer Opel, which in turn is owned by Groupe PSA of France. Vauxhall's vehicle lineup is identical to that of its parent, Opel, but the Vauxhall brand is exclusively used in the United Kingdom and Isle of Man. Vauxhall is one of the oldest established vehicle manufacturers and distribution companies in the United Kingdom. Its headquarters are in Park Town, Luton, Bedfordshire, England.

Chrysler acquired a 35% share of the Spanish Barreiros in 1963, [3] and it became part of Chrysler Europe in 1969.

After failing to acquire an interest in the British-based Leyland Motors in 1962, Chrysler bought a 30% share in Rootes Group in 1964. [4] Rootes was formally taken over by Chrysler following purchase of the remaining shares in 1967. [5]

Leyland Motors Limited was a British vehicle manufacturer of lorries, buses and trolleybuses. The company diversified into car manufacturing with its acquisitions of Triumph and Rover in 1960 and 1967, respectively. It gave its name to the British Leyland Motor Corporation, formed when it merged with British Motor Holdings in 1968, to become British Leyland after being nationalised. British Leyland later changed its name to simply BL, then in 1986 to Rover Group.

Rootes Group British automobile manufacturer

The Rootes Group or Rootes Motors Limited was a British automobile manufacturer and, separately a major motor distributors and dealers business. Run from London's West End, they were respectively based in the Midlands and south of England. In the decade beginning 1928 the Rootes brothers, William and Reginald, made prosperous by their very successful distribution and servicing business, were keen to enter manufacturing for closer control of the products they were selling. One brother has been termed the power unit, the other the steering and braking system.

In 1970 Rootes was formally named Chrysler (UK) Ltd. and Simca became Chrysler (France), with the Hillman marque finally being replaced by Chrysler on the UK market in 1976 and Simca surviving until after the PSA takeover in 1979.


Although the original marques were retained at first, from 1976 British-built cars were badged as Chryslers, while the Simca badge appeared on French versions, though with the Chrysler pentastar, in some markets the cars were sold as Chrysler-Simca. Chrysler used the Dodge marque on commercial vehicles produced by both Simca and Rootes (Commer and Karrier, but in addition using badge engineering to sell vehicles overseas under the Fargo and DeSoto brands). In addition, in some countries, such as Spain, the Dodge and Simca marques would be used for other vehicles, mostly Spanish-designed (ex-Barreiros) trucks and buses and locally-built versions of US-market vehicles or local versions of Simca cars.

Dodge is an American brand of automobile manufactured by FCA US LLC, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Dodge vehicles currently include performance cars, though for much of its existence Dodge was Chrysler's mid-priced brand above Plymouth.

Commer British commercial vehicle manufacturer

Commer was a British manufacturer of commercial vehicles from 1905 until 1979. Commer vehicles included car-derived vans, light vans, medium to heavy commercial trucks, military vehicles and buses. The company also designed and built some of its own diesel engines for its heavy commercial vehicles.

Karrier British commercial vehicle manufacturer

Karrier was a British marque of motorised municipal appliances and light commercial vehicles and trolley buses manufactured at Karrier Works, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, by Clayton and Co., Huddersfield, Limited. They began making Karrier motor vehicles in 1908 in Queen Street South, Huddersfield. In 1920, H.F. Clayton sold Clayton and Co's Huddersfield business into public listed company Karrier Motors while keeping their Penistone operation separate and mechanical and electrical engineers Clayton & Co Penistone remains active in 2018.

The company systematically retired the previous marques from Rootes, including Hillman, Humber, and Sunbeam in favour of the Chrysler name. The Simca brand was retained in its native France, but the Simca vehicles themselves were usually branded as either Chrysler-Simca or simply Chrysler outside France. In 1969, Chrysler Europe closed a deal with French engineering group Matra Automobiles to jointly develop the Matra sports cars and subsequently sell them through the Simca dealer network (as Matra-Simca). Following the introduction of the 1970 Avenger, Chrysler showed little investment or interest in the technologically conservative Rootes line-up, concentrating instead on the advanced front wheel drive Simca models instead.


The first European Chrysler was the French built Chrysler 180, launched in 1970. The 180 was the result of combining two projects that were previously being developed independently by Rootes and Simca. The larger engined Chrysler 2 Litre joined the range soon afterwards. This was the flagship model in the Chrysler Europe range, which rivalled the likes of Audi 100 and Ford Granada during the 1970s.

The British car designer Roy Axe, who originally started his career with Rootes, was responsible for unifying the designs of the new European range starting with the 1975 Simca 1307 hatchback, which was sold in the UK as the Chrysler Alpine. It was voted European Car of the Year for 1976. The 1307/Alpine was a five-door hatchback with front-wheel drive, in a market sector which was still almost exclusively populated by rear-wheel drive saloons like the Ford Cortina/Taunus and Opel Ascona (Vauxhall Cavalier in the UK). Chrysler decided to keep the Hillman Hunter, a rear-wheel drive range of saloons and estates, in production for the UK market as a traditional alternative to the Alpine, production finally finishing in 1979 just after Peugeot took over. Other influential designers who worked for the company in the 1970s, and had a significant impact in car design in the 1980s were Geoff Matthews and Fergus Pollock. From this '70s period two outstanding projects were the Matra P18 prototype, which would later be developed into the MK1 Renault Espace, and the Matra Rancho which influenced the styling of the 1989 Land Rover Discovery.

Three years later, the smaller Chrysler Horizon also won the award. This was a five-door front-wheel drive hatchback similar in concept to the Volkswagen Golf, but again it was launched at a time when many comparable cars were still sold as rear-wheel drive saloons, so the Avenger was kept in production alongside it until being axed under Peugeot ownership in 1981 when it decided to close down to the Linwood plant in Scotland, concentrating its production at the former Rootes Group factory in Coventry and the former Simca factory at Poissy.

In 1977 Chrysler launched the British-built Sunbeam, a three-door supermini hatchback which effectively replaced the Hillman Imp and was rarely seen outside the UK.

Chrysler, identifying the demand for a large flagship saloon to compete with the Ford Granada, commenced design on the replacement for the 180, which eventually became the Talbot Tagora under Peugeot's ownership on its launch in 1980. However, this car was not a strong seller in the UK or France, finished production after just three years and less than 20,000 sales.

Peugeot also added a saloon version of the Alpine - the Solara - to the former Chrysler range soon after taking it over, and also made use of its own 104 supermini underpinnings to develop the Talbot Samba as the Sunbeam's replacement. Peugeot continued production of the Samba, Alpine and Solara until 1986, and the Horizon until 1987, phasing out the Talbot brand in favour of expanding its own brand and producing cars in the former Chrysler Europe factories. The Ryton plant was closed down in 2006, but the Poissy plant remains in use.


Chrysler UK had several plants in Coventry, including the Ryton assembly plant, the Stoke Aldermoor engine plant, the design, engineering and development site at Whitley and Hills Precision, the plastics factory in Canterbury Street, as well as the vehicle manufacturing plant at Linwood in Scotland.

Decline and sale to Peugeot

Confused branding resulted from trying to concurrently sell the mismatched pairing of the Simca and Rootes product families, contrasting heavily with the fortunes of arch rivals Ford and General Motors - who had both successfully managed to weave together their previously independent British and German subsidiaries. Chrysler Europe profits failed to materialize, although Simca on its own had been consistently profitable during its tenure under Chrysler ownership. It was the ailing former Rootes Group operations which were to prove to be the ultimate downfall of the company. Chrysler was already in serious financial trouble back home in America, and were on the brink of bankruptcy. The company's incoming CEO, Lee Iacocca had shown little interest in the European market from the outset (just as he had done during his period in charge of Ford), and wasted no time in wielding the axe almost immediately.

In 1978, Chrysler Europe was sold for a nominal US$1 to PSA Peugeot Citroën, who took on the liability for the its huge debts as well as its factories and product line, with the former Chrysler models in Britain and Simca models in France both using the revived Talbot marque from August 1979. [6]

The Linwood factory in Scotland was closed by Peugeot in 1981 after just 18 years in use, marking the end of Avenger and Sunbeam production. The Sunbeam was replaced by the Peugeot 104 derived, French-built Talbot Samba, but the demise of the Avenger left the Horizon as the only car of its size in the Talbot range. The Alpine spawned a saloon version, the Solara, in 1980, filling the gap left in the range by the demise of the Hunter, and recognising that there was still a high demand for traditional family saloons.

But by 1987, the French giant had scrapped the Talbot marque on passenger cars due to falling sales - though retaining it for commercial vehicles until 1992. The car designed to succeed the Horizon became Peugeot 309 on its launch at the end of 1985, and in 1983, Peugeot sold its share in Matra together with the Chrysler-initiated design of an MPV to Renault, where the design lived on as Renault Espace. Production of the Samba and Alpine/Solara finished in May 1986, while the Horizon remained in production in Spain and Finland until 1987; French and British production had finished during 1985 when the Peugeot 309 went into production. American versions of this car were produced until 1990.

Peugeot took little interest in heavy commercial vehicles and the production of former British and Spanish Dodge models passed to Renault Trucks. The Rootes factory in Dunstable, England ceased manufacture of trucks, ending with the Renault Midliner in the mid 1990s. In 2009 the staff of Renault Trucks (RVI), part of the Volvo Group since 2001, relocated from the former Rootes site to a new building. The former factory has since been demolished.

Chrysler on the other hand, retained the design rights to the Avenger and those of the US-version Horizon. Peugeot were therefore compelled to retain the Chrysler "pentastar" badge on the Avenger, whilst Chrysler prepared to shift production of the car to Argentina when European sales ended in 1981. The American version of the Horizon continued to be produced in the United States as the Plymouth Horizon and Dodge Omni until 1990, three years after the last European model was made.

The former Simca and Rootes assembly plants in Poissy and Ryton-on-Dunsmore, respectively, continued under the ownership of Peugeot, but Rootes' Linwood plant in Scotland was a casualty of the takeover - closing its doors in 1981. The former Rootes Ryton plant was closed in December 2006, with production of the Peugeot 206 (made there since the summer of 1998) moved to Slovakia. Since 1985, it had also produced Peugeot's 309, 405 and 306 ranges. It has since been demolished to make way for new factories. The former Rootes research and development site in Whitley was sold to Jaguar in 1986, and continues as the headquarters of Jaguar Land Rover to the present day. The former Simca site in Poissy has also thrived, and is now one Peugeot's most important assembly plants.

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Hillman British automobile marque

Hillman is a British automobile marque created by the Hillman Motor Car Company, founded in 1907. The company was based in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, near Coventry, England. Before 1907 the company had built bicycles. Newly under the control of the Rootes brothers, the Hillman company was acquired by Humber in 1928. Hillman was used as the small car marque of Humber Limited from 1931, but until 1937 Hillman did continue to sell large cars. The Rootes brothers reached a sixty per cent holding of Humber in 1932 which they retained until 1967, when Chrysler bought Rootes and bought out the other forty per cent of shareholders in Humber. The marque continued to be used under Chrysler until 1976.

Rootes Arrow car model

Rootes Arrow was the manufacturer's name for a range of cars produced under several badge-engineered marques by the Rootes Group from 1966 to 1979. It is amongst the last Rootes designs, developed with no influence from future owner Chrysler. The range is almost always referred to by the name of the most prolific model, the Hillman Hunter.

Peugeot 309 car model

The Peugeot 309 is a small family car that was manufactured between 1985 and 1994 in England, Spain and France by PSA Peugeot Citroën. It was originally intended to be badged as a Talbot and, as development progressed, to be called the Talbot Arizona. It was the replacement for the Talbot Horizon, which had started life as a Chrysler in Britain and a Simca in France, and was also being built in several guises for the American market.

Hillman Avenger car model

The Hillman Avenger is a rear-wheel drive small family car originally manufactured by the former Rootes division of Chrysler Europe from 1970–1978, badged from 1976 onward as the Chrysler Avenger. Between 1979 and 1981 it was manufactured by PSA Peugeot Citroën and badged as the Talbot Avenger. The Avenger was marketed in North America as the Plymouth Cricket.

Talbot 1903-1992 automotive brand of various corporations

Talbot or Clément-Talbot Limited was a London automobile manufacturer founded in 1903. Clément-Talbot's products were named just Talbot from shortly after introduction, but the business remained Clément-Talbot Limited until 1938 when it was renamed Sunbeam-Talbot Limited. The founders, Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury and Adolphe Clément-Bayard, reduced their financial interests in their Clément-Talbot business during the First World War.

Simca-Talbot Horizon car model

The Horizon is a family hatchback developed by Chrysler Europe and sold in Europe between 1978 and 1987 under the Chrysler, Simca, and Talbot nameplates. Derivative variants of the Horizon were manufactured and marketed by Chrysler in the United States and Canada as the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon until 1990. After the sale of Chrysler Europe to Peugeot in 1978, the European cars were only further sold as Talbots, and though largely identically bodied as American Chryslers, the cars led relatively unrelated production lives, almost from the start, on each side of the ocean.

Talbot Tagora car model

The Talbot Tagora is an executive car developed by Chrysler Europe and produced by Peugeot Société Anonyme (PSA). The Tagora was marketed under the Talbot marque after PSA took over Chrysler's European operations in 1979. PSA presented the first production vehicle in 1980 and launched it commercially in 1981. The Tagora fell short of sales expectations, described as a "showroom flop" just a year after its launch, and PSA cancelled the model two years later. Fewer than 20,000 Tagora models were built, all of them at the former Simca factory in Poissy, near Paris, France.

Simca 1307 car model

The Simca 1307 was a large family car produced by Chrysler Europe and latterly PSA Peugeot Citröen from 1975 to 1986. Codenamed C6 in development the car was styled in the United Kingdom by Roy Axe and his team at Whitley and the car was engineered by Simca at Poissy in France.

Talbot Samba car model

The Talbot Samba is a city car manufactured by the PSA Group in the former Simca factory in Poissy, France, and marketed under the short-lived modern-day Talbot brand from 1981 to 1986. Based on the Peugeot 104, it was the only Talbot not inherited from Chrysler Europe, engineered by PSA alone. It was also the last new Talbot to be launched. Its demise in 1986 was effectively the end of the Talbot brand for passenger cars. Launched initially as a three-door hatchback, it was also for some time the only small car available in a factory-ordered cabrio body style, and the most economical car in Europe.

Chrysler Sunbeam compact car

The Chrysler Sunbeam is a small supermini three-door hatchback manufactured by Chrysler Europe at the former Rootes Group factory in Linwood in Scotland from 1977 to 1981. The Sunbeam's development was funded by a British government grant with the aim of keeping the Linwood plant running, and the small car was based on the larger Hillman Avenger, also manufactured there. After the takeover of Chrysler's European operations by PSA, the model was renamed "Talbot Sunbeam" and continued in production until 1981. A Talbot Sunbeam Lotus version was successful in rallying and won the World Rally Championship manufacturers' title for Talbot in 1981.

Simca 1100 car model

The Simca 1100 is a car built from 1967 to 1982 by Simca. It was replaced by the Simca-Talbot Horizon.

The Simca Poissy engine, commonly known as the Simca 1100 engine, was a four-cylinder OHV engine developed by Simca for use in its superminis and economy cars, designed by the engineer Georges Martin. In spite of its common name, the engine actually predates the Simca 1100 model, and debuted in 1961 in the Simca 1000 Coupé. It was developed and produced by Simca in the late 1960s at the manufacturer's factory in Poissy, hence its name.

Chrysler 180 series of large saloon cars

The Chrysler 180 was the base name for a series of large saloon cars produced by Chrysler Europe. Resulting from joining development efforts of Rootes Group and Simca, the car was produced from 1970 to 1975 in Poissy, France, and later in Chrysler's subsidiary Barreiros' factory in Spain. The Chrysler 180 was also the base for the medium-sized model built by Chrysler Australia, the Chrysler Centura.

1978 in motoring deals with developments in the automotive industry that occurred in 1978, listed by country. The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles.


Sunbeam-Talbot Limited was a British motor manufacturing business. It built upmarket sports-saloon versions of Rootes Group cars from 1935 to 1954. As Clément-Talbot Limited it had made Talbot cars since 1902.

Ryton plant

The Ryton plant is a former car manufacturing plant in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire, England. Developed by the Rootes Group as a shadow factory in 1939 to produce aircraft engines for World War II, post war it became the headquarters of the group. Taken over by Peugeot in 1978, it shut in December 2006, and was subsequently redeveloped by Trenport Investments Ltd, for industrial use in March 2007.

France was a pioneer in the automotive industry and is the 11th-largest automobile manufacturer in the world by 2015 unit production and the third-largest in Europe. It had consistently been the 4th-largest from the end of World War II up to 2000.


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  2. "Project Car Hell, Chrysler Captives Edition: Simca 1204, Dodge Colt, or Plymouth Cricket?". Autoweek. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  3. "Chrysler buys one-third of Spanish Auto Builder". St Petersburgh Time. 2 October 1963. p. 5-C. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  4. Hyde, Charles (2003). Riding the Roller Coaster: A History of the Chrysler Corporation. Wayne State University Press. p. 199. ISBN   9780814330913.
  5. "Hillman Imp: The car that drove Linwood to disaster". BBC History. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  6. "Development of the Chrysler - Talbot - Simca Horizon". Retrieved 2011-11-28.