29 August 1999
1948 CHRYSLER TOWN AND COUNTRY CONVERTIBLE
Chassis No. 7407063
Dark blue with brown leather and tan cloth interior
Engine: straight eight, 250.6ci, 114bhp at 3600rpm; Gearbox: fluid-drive semi-automatic; Suspension: front, independent, rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
In the pre-war era, there was 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 and Country was introduced in 1948 and the salesroom catalogue stated that it had the grace and elegance of a yacht. The wood that was selected was white ash, and Chrysler was so quality conscious that supposedly only one out of every five truck loads were good enough to use. The Town and Country name evolved because someone 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 $3,970 the Town and Country was far more expensive than a Cadillac.
This attractive example has only just completed an outstanding restoration which has been finished to show standards. Prior to the work, we are told this car belonged to one family in North Carolina from whose estate it was purchased. The mileage is said to be 37,000 from new and judging from its condition and originality this seems entirely possible. Most of the restoration work was entrusted to a firm who specialize in woodies. The car was almost entirely disassembled, (the body was deliberately left on the chassis as it was in good condition and the shape and fit is not compromised in this manner). Photographs of the restoration work are available and show how sound the sheet metal was: presumably the car was stored in a very dry garage. The interior was done by VIP European Auto Interiors, copying the original upholstery, patterns and stitching. Even the top frame was taken apart and bead blasted then powder coated. At the same time, all the pins and bolts that were chrome were re-done. The top was redone with correct style snaps and zippers to the rear window. Virtually all the parts used in the restoration were NOS (new old stock). The light wood is the original white ash and has been stripped and urethane coated. The dark wood-looking panels were originally decals at this date and handpainted woodgrain was applied to the original steel panels.
The owner reports that the car starts and drives as its should and it shifts correctly through the fluid-drive semi-automatic gearbox. The 1948 Town and Country is one of the most desirable models, with only a few convertibles built that year, and this striking example warrants close attention.
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