Chrysler Town and country Sedan

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Town and country Sedan





Understandably, this was Chrysler’s top-of-the-line vehicle and the pinnacle of post-war glamor. The Town and Country was built in limited numbers due to its high exterior maintenance and complexity, which, of course, add to its desirability today. Initially, Chrysler’s brochure listed five Town and Country body styles, but only two were widely available: the convertible and the four-door sedan.

Unique rear deck and taillights were constructed for the model, and its wooden parts came from Pekin Wood Products in Helena, Arkansas. From there, the cars were shipped to Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue plant in Detroit for assembly. The wood framing was assembled prior to being fitted to the body, which required extensive hand-formed contouring of the compound curved frames so that they mated to the metal body parts correctly. Bodies included white ash framing over mahogany veneer panels.

In 1941, Chrysler introduced a unique wood-bodied car to the six-cylinder Windsor line. It was neither sedan nor pure station wagon, as it had a fastback profile with twin hinged doors at the rear. In contrast to most wood-bodied utility vehicles, the new Town and Country car, as the company initially called it, had lavishly varnished wood inside and quality upholstery. The name reportedly came from the design of the car, which was “town” (metal) in front and “country” (wood) in back

This first edition of the Town and Country has become known as the “Barrelback,” from its rounded rear styling combining with “clamshell” rear doors. The doors lead to a large and useful storage area behind the rear passenger seats. A nine-passenger version was also offered, with a limousine-type folding bench seat between the two rows of standard seat.

Exactly 996 were built, with approximately 200 of them in six-passenger configuration and the rest as nine-seaters with rear quarter windows. In addition, a single prototype was built on an eight-cylinder chassis. While restored 1941 Town and Country’s are occasionally seen at concours d’elegance, they are almost always the nine-passenger model. Only twenty-two 1941 Town and Country’s are known and only four of these are the six-passenger model; as a result, they are very seldom offered for public sale. Production of the cars stopped during World War II.

General Motors claims the distinction of mass-producing the first pillarless hardtop coupes in 1949; however Chrysler built seven Town and Country versions of this body style in 1946, of which only one survives today. The T&C hardtop finally went into production for the 1950 model year.

Built on the New Yorker’s 127.5-inch wheelbase, the Town & Country convertible was longer than the sedan. It also had all the New Yorker standard equipment: five-main-bearing 323.5-cid, 135-hp straight-eight engine, Prestomatic Fluid Drive transmission and an electric clock. Annual production totals were not recorded, but for the 1946 through 1948 model years, 8,368 New Yorker Town & Country convertibles were built. The new-design second-series 1949 line dropped the Town & Country sedan, and for 1950 the model retreated to an eight-cylinder hardtop coupe with painted metal insert panels. Thereafter, the name “Town & Country” graced a long succession of Chrysler steel-bodied station wagons and minivans.

After the war the Town & Country nameplate returned, but the station wagon body did not. Town & Country sedans, coupes, and convertibles were also produced from 1946 to 1950 in much larger numbers than the prewar wagon. Production of the original, woodie Town & Country ended in 1950.

The 1950 Crosley Hot Shot is often given credit for the first production disc brakes but the Chrysler Crown Imperial actually had them first as standard equipment at the beginning of the 1949 model year. The Chrysler 4-wheel disc brake system was built by Auto Specialties Manufacturing Company (Ausco) of St. Joseph, Michigan, under patents of inventor H.L. Lambert, and was first tested on a 1939 Plymouth. Unlike the caliper disc, the Ausco-Lambert utilized twin expanding discs that rubbed against the inner surface of a cast iron brake drum, which doubled as the brake housing.

The Ausco-Lambert disc brake was complex, and because of the expense, the brakes were only standard on the Chrysler Crown Imperial through 1954 and the Town and Country Newport in 1950. They were optional, however, on other Chryslers, priced around $400, at a time when an entire Crosley Hot Shot retailed for $935.

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