|It was 1962 and after much turmoil in the administration
of Chrysler Corporation, Lynn A. Townsend became the new President. Mr. Townsend made a lot of changes, one of
those changes was to appoint J.E. Charipar the Director of Product Planning, Turbine and Special Cars.
Jack was an engineer by profession, born in 1925, serving his country for three years in the U.S. Navy he then went on to get his degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U of Michigan in 1947. Following that he went on to get his Master's degree in automotive engineering from the Chrysler Institute of Engineering in 1950. Just before his appointment to the Turbine and Special Car program, he spent a year obtaining a Master of Science in Industrial management from M.I.T. under a A.P. Sloan fellowship.
His career with Chrysler started as Laboratory Engineer then Administrative Assistant to the Executive Engineer in charge of research. Then Supervisor of Technical Information, then Staff Engineer in the body section, then Chief Styling Engineer and Supervisor of new product plans in the Export Division. His next promotion was to became director of product planning and chief engineer for the Plymouth Division in April of 1958. He held that position until 1961 when he took the year away from work to pursue the second Master's degree at M.I.T. His old job at Plymouth was filled by J.M.Sturm who was the same person Chrysler sent to speak at the delivery of our car in May of 1965. In June of 1962 when Jack took over the new job, he reported to Robert Anderson, V.P. and director of Product Planning.
Jack was very involved in the Turbine program during the years from 1962 to 1964 and also head of the Chrysler racing group. When Tom Hoover, Dick Maxwell, Wayne Erickson, Don Moore, Herman Mozer, Bill Roger and Jim Thornton formed the Ramchargers the leader of the Ramchargers was Bob Cahill but everything they did that would go into production from the Slant Six Hyper-Pak to the Hemi required that Jack Charipar present that idea to the Executives so it could move forward. Jack gave his blessing to many innovative and progressive projects. He had to work very hard to convince the people who controlled the money to spend it on some things that did not have a clear profit motive.
Jack seemed to have a real heart for small cars. His daughter remembers him researching an extensive study of the European small car market. He also did not think they had to be boring! When the Hyper-Pak Slant Six for the Valiant was developed and ready for prime time (NASCAR) Jack was all for it! Tom Hoover is quoted as saying "Jack Charipar had great vision. He stirred up interest in Bill France's compact class." It was one thing to build a small race car but then he went and got the controlling board of racing to make a class for it.
Jack was ahead of his time in many ways, in fact it was Jack who coined the term "Imagineering" back in 1959 and he is quoted as saying "You never get from where you are to a better somewhere else without thinking about new things. Dreamers make things happen - in fact, you can look back over history and find that progress in industrial development only took place when people dared to dream and work." Jack was also the Chief Engineer for the first Compact car produced by Chrysler - the Valiant which debuted in late 1959 as a 1960 model. Note:I learned how to drive and got my driver's license on a 1960 Valiant. Jack studied the Italian and other European car builders and lead the negotiations with Simca which really made the Valiant possible. The Valiant was his first big - little car success.
Jack's association with the Turbine program concluded when Chrysler asked him to take on three assignments overseas during the years 1964-1970. During those years, Chrysler was making significant investments in manufacturing operations and joint ventures. His work took him to Adelaide, Australia to set up a quality control program; Geneva, Switzerland where he led Chrysler's international product planning activities; and Madrid, Spain as Executive Vice President overseeing all of Chrysler's operations during the time the company was investing in Barreiros Diesel S.A. the automobile, bus and truck manufacturer based in Madrid. He returned the United States in 1970 and left Chrysler as the opportunities there did not look good. He was barely starting his new career with Cummins Engine Company as Vice President of research when he died at the very young age of 46. It is sad his life and career was cut so short as he was a man who had many great and innovative ideas and was not afraid to follow those ideas to fruition.
Jack and the dreams are what helped make the Turbine program a success and today I fear our companies have become so obsessed with economy, gimmicks, technology and sales that they are afraid to dream. I believe that Jack's Imagineering lives on in cars like the Dodge Viper, the new Dodge Challenger and other manufacturer's cars like the Nissan Cube and Juke. Whenever you see a car that is not quite like anything else around it, think of Imagineering and maybe the guy who thought up that word.
Below are two photos Diane, Jack's daughter allowed me to share here. Jack is the "suit" with the camera around his neck. These photos were taken on location during the filming of the movie "The Lively Set." In the second photo, George Stecher is shown with the crash helmet while the other guy with his back to the camera is probably a Grip.
|LINKS related to Jack Charipar:|
|Hemmings Blog - Flashback on Jack Charipar|
|Article on the 1960 Valiant from Popular Mechanics magazine|
Page updated 11/17/2014