Lot 26: 1949 CHRYSLER TOWN & COUNTRY CONVERTIBLE
Thunder Gray with Di-Noc wood grain panels, red leather with beige Bedford cord interior and taupe top
Engine: straight eight, 323.5ci., 135bhp at 3,200rpm; Gearbox: fluid drive semi-automatic; Suspension: front, independent, rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic drums. Left hand drive.
Chrysler had been busily involved in the American war effort, but they quickly returned to automobile manufacturing in 1946. The staple model in that year was the six cylinder Royal, which was effectively a slightly refined pre-war design. The Windsor series was an upmarket version of the Royal, while the Saratoga featured an eight cylinder motor. The top of the range was the New Yorker, onto whose chassis the new Town & Country was mounted.
In the pre-war era, there had been a great love in America for quality products made of wood; the finest boats were wood hulled and the best homes were often known for their ornate woodwork. So it is not unusual that Detroit eventually offered cars with exposed wood sided coachwork. The Chrysler Town & Country saleroom catalogue stated that it 'had the grace and elegance of a yacht'. The wood selected was white ash, and Chrysler was so quality conscious that supposedly only one out of every five truck loads of wood was good enough to use.
The Town & Country name evolved because it was noted that the front half of the car looked 'town' and the rear looked 'country'. The largely hand built bodies rode on the New Yorker's chassis powered by the straight eight 'Spitfire' engine. At $3,765 the Town & Country Convertible was far more expensive than a Cadillac. The attractive Di-Noc inserts were discontinued in mid-1949 in favor of a plainer and ordinary painted steel panel.
This 1949 model carries chassis number 7410049 thereby designating it to be an extremely early 1949 Town & Country (49th of the approximately 1,000 built). With only 26,000 miles recorded, it is best described as being in overall original. The only items that have been replaced appear to be the seats, while the top and door panels seem to be original. It retains its original "Thunder Gray" (gunmetal gray) factory paint, and shows a lovely, aged patina. Fewer than 150 Town & Country Convertibles are believed to remain, of which, this is the earlier and most desirable 'full wood' example. Enthusiasts for woodies and general car collectors alike have all recognized the significance of the Chrysler Town & Country as a landmark vehicle in the evolution of post-war American car history. There are now special classes for woodies at all premiere concours events, and this 1949 model should be a great addition to any collection. Having been purchased in 2005 by the current owner from Heritage Classics in Beverly Hills, California, this highly original example has seen minimal estate use. Christie's strongly recommends a close inspection of this lovely original example.
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