1948 Chrysler Town & Country Convertible
Specifications: 135 bhp, 323.5 cubic inch L-head eight-cylinder engine, Fluid Drive automatic transmission, independent front suspension, leaf spring rear suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 127.5"
The end of World War II brought with it an unprecedented demand for automobiles from the American buying public. As auto manufacturers struggled to simultaneously meet this demand and revert from wartime production, complete model changes were delayed by several years and current models were largely based on early 1940s designs.
Chrysler's Town & Country, however, was one notable exception. Originally conceived in 1941 by Chrysler employee Dave Wallace, the Town & Country was only available in four-door form and featured a beautifully crafted wooden body. Although the "woodie" was born of a practical need for relatively inexpensive estate wagons, its ash and mahogany-framed body was considered quite fashionable and, due to its association with country life, became a favorite vehicle of the wealthy. After the war, Chrysler capitalized on this interest by introducing Convertible Coupe and four-door Sedan variants of the Town & Country, replacing the previous four-door station wagon. Spurred on by an enticing advertisement campaign and a two-page spread in the Saturday Evening Post, anxious public interest in the new Chryslers prevented the firm from making any clay models or prototypes. Instead, the Town & Country was reportedly built from sketches to meet looming time constraints. Although performance was by no means groundbreaking, the 135 horsepower eight-cylinder engine provided more than enough power for leisurely and enjoyable drives. Cosmetically, little changed in the first three years, as the new Convertibles and Sedans were based on the upscale New Yorker series and offered a variety of luxurious appointments in addition to the Saratoga's standard features. At a factory price of over $3,400, Chrysler's elegant convertible was the most expensive model available, exceeding any other model in the New Yorker series and eclipsing the more moderately priced Royal, Windsor, and Saratoga.
The Town & Country Convertible offered here is a spectacular example, purchased by its current owner of Grosse Pointe, Michigan less than three years ago from an individual in St. Louis, Missouri. The subject of a complete, professional frame-off rotisserie restoration in 1999, this Town & Country was awarded the Senior National First Prize one year later by the Antique Automobile Club of America and has remained in outstanding condition ever since, accumulating limited mileage.
The Newport Blue finish is sensational and complements the wooden panels and tan Haartz cloth top beautifully. Every piece of chrome trim has been plated to a show-quality finish and, although this work was conducted several years ago, retains an exceptional shine. The two-tone blue leather and tan Bedford cloth upholstery is on par with the car's exterior and, along with the blue carpeting, has an as-new appearance. In fact, the dash, trim, gauges, and instrumentation all appear to have been properly restored. As for the engine compartment and undercarriage, there is little evidence of road use and the professional workmanship and attention to detail is quite remarkable. Significant extras include wide whitewall tires and a reproduction owner's manual.
Despite their practical origins, woodies grew to epitomize distinguished living by virtue of their attractive bodies. This beautiful, award-winning Town & Country holds true to this character and exemplifies the original 1946 Chrysler advertisement – "There's an air about this glorious convertible, a whisper of country clubs and moonlight rides. There's poise in every dashing line – a car that's at ease in any company.