1948 CHRYSLER TOWN & COUNTRY CONVERTIBLE
Black with tan canvas top and tan leather interior
Engine: straight eight, 250.6ci, 135bhp at 3600rpm; Gearbox: fluid-drive semi-automatic; Suspension: front, independent, rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
Between the first and second World Wars, a category of cars emerged on both sides of the Atlantic. Called 'estate cars' or 'shooting brakes' in the UK and 'station wagons' in the United States, they were working vehicles based on luxury sedans, with a panel delivery's load space behind two or three rows of seats. The bodies from the cowl back were made of wood, partly for the ease of construction, partly for style. They were popular with the landed gentry on both continents and achieved a certain status by the early 1940s.
The mass-market manufacturers also built some of these cars, but the car that best bridged the gap between the low and high end was the Chrysler Town & Country. The first cars to bear the name were 1941 station wagons. With their distinctive 'barrel back' rear hatches, they combined style with function in a unique manner. Following the War, Chrysler decided that the best market was for the people who didn't need the utility of a wagon, but wanted the style of a country gentleman. A four door sedan was introduced in 1946 along with a very elegant convertible. Powered by a 135bhp, straight eight engine and Fluid Drive, and loaded with equipment they were substantial, but not very fast, cruisers.
Town & Country cars were practically hand-built and as a consequence very expensive. The convertible sold at prices near those of a loaded Cadillac but still managed to find over 8,000 buyers in the three years of production.
As the catalog for the cars stated, the Town & Country 'has the grace and elegance of a yacht.'
They were among the best made and well-appointed cars of their era, and the quality of the materials used were of the highest grade. Of the white ash used for the wood trim it was said that Chrysler selected only one of every five truck loads submitted to use in the cars.
For 1948 the Town & Country's wood decoration was simplified. The outline of the panels remained in wood, with the background in metal. This scheme looks particularly effective with the black body and tan top of this car, and enhances the elegance of the design. The car is a very high level driver, with clean paint, and complete chrome in very good condition. The interior has unmarked leather and a period radio fitted.
Why did Sergio Franchi choose this car to be a part of his collection? Eva Franchi tells us, 'Sergio thought it was one of the most beautiful American cars ever made, and very "New England". He thought it belonged driving between the antique stone walls of Connecticut.' Franchi enjoyed driving the car to go golfing. Mrs. Franchi adds,'We bought the Town & Country when we moved to here (to Connecticut). It really has the class and elegance of Connecticut. He thought that the Town & Country is America- it is New England- the Town & Country belongs beside these stone walls of New England. And with the top down, you're a sportsman, a hunter, a great Yankee gentleman. When he sat in that car he said 'Now I'm a Yankee Franchi'. And when he went to play golf at his club in Rhode Island he always drove this car. It went great with his set of antique golf clubs.'
Wherever this Town & Country goes it will bring with it a classic elegance and timeless style.