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I Witnessed: The doomed DaimlerChrysler marriage

2 months ago

Writer:

Andrew English | Journalist

Date:

18 August 2022

They threw lots of parties when Daimler married Chrysler – I was at several of them. The most scarily ostentatious was at the 1999 Detroit motor show, where, for one night only, a derelict warehouse was refurbished. Outside, the bitter winter nipped at the fingers of vagrants gathered around trash-can fires.

Inside, tables groaned with exotic seafood, scantily dressed nymphs offered Churchillian cigars while the circus troupe La Guardia crashed through the false ceiling to pluck guests from the floor. It was exuberance on a grand scale, as though there were no tomorrow, although perhaps that’s what Daimler and its egotistical boss, Jürgen Schrempp, thought after spending $36 billion on the smallest of America’s big three car makers.

When the time came for us to be chucked back into the real world, we were handed a party bag containing a pair of Janus-like book-ends comprising vintage Mercedes and Chrysler radiator grilles. Strange, I thought, that this ‘marriage made in heaven’ was depicted with the protagonists facing away from each other.

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