Posted at the Cohort by Nifticus
Since the creation of the CC website, we’ve covered many cars. We’ve covered some cars many times. However, there are a few that have had, for various reasons, little to no attention slathered upon them.
A fuselage bodied Chrysler wagon is certainly one of those. So let us correct that, and what better way is there to do so than with the wagon whose nine passenger version made for the most expensive Chrysler of 1969?
As we all likely know, Chrysler introduced a new generation of full-size car for 1969. Creases were out and curves were in, with wagons maintaining their 122″ wheelbase of prior years. Engine choices were also the same as in 1968 with a standard two-barrel 383 with a four-barrel 383 and two 440s available for pulling and hauling whatever.
Did you know Chrysler touted there being over 1,000 linear feet of steel wire woven together to make the seat springs? Or there being 102 cubic feet of storage capacity in the two-seat models? Or the air-conditioned models had two separate units, referred to as “stereo air-conditioning”?
All one has to do is drop the tailgate to this long, long cargo area and partake of all the goodness. From all the wagons that immediately come to mind, this one has what appears to be the longest cargo area of them all. There is no doubt a visual component playing to this perception as the wagons were only one-tenth of an inch longer overall than the sedans upon which they were based.
One of the glaring omissions of the world has now been corrected – we’ve now featured a fuselage Chrysler wagon. What does this mean? It means one of us contributors will now find in the wild one of the 24,516 Town & Country wagons Chrysler made for 1969.
It’s doubtful many people will be upset if we feature a second one some year.
The first car I drove was a 1969 Chrysler Town and Country with the 4 barrel 440 and positraction. Even though it was 10 years old at that point it could haul a**. It was thirsty – I got about 8 miles per gallon.
I really want one of those Nixon bumper stickers.
I like these wagons. The fuselage sedans and especially the coupes looked disproportionate, as if a compact cars’ greenhouse was swallowed by a full size cars lower body. The wagon’s stretched interior restores the proportions.
The Nixon sticker is very appropriate for the car, too.
They’re still for sale at the Nixon Presidential museum in Yorba Linda, CA. I bought one and it lives on my toolbox 🙂
Perfect description of the styling flaws of the fuselage sedans. The wagons looked lean and athletic in comparison. Shame about the cheesy interiors.
“Now More Than Ever”. Does that mean…erm…anything coherent? At all?
This is a simple one.
Nixon is now. Nixon was less than ever before.
So now there is more or less Nixon.
More or less.
Hope this helps.
Great topic! These were not that rare in Canada. At least the later fuselage Chrysler Town and Country wagons, that included the rear fender skirts. Those are the versions I remember seeing somewhat regularly. The ’73s being the most common. I suspect owners routinely garaged them in the winter, as I most typically saw them hauling Airstreams or boats, almost exclusively during the summer months. Polara wagons seemed to rust the fastest, as they were workhorses, and weren’t pampered like the Chryslers.
Evenings during the pandemic, I’ve been watching some TV classics like The Mod Squad, and Michael Cole and Clarence Williams III were driving a Polara wagon from ’70 or ’71.
I was about to say that very thing – it was not until the 1972-73 version with the full skirts that these stopped being easily confused with a big Plymouth or Dodge wagon from the rear 3/4 view.
Like the ’79 Lincoln Versailles, and its distinctive formal roof, these early fuselage Chrysler Town and Country wagons would have enjoyed a tremendously improved luxury aura if they wore the fender skirts from the beginning.
It’s interesting that Chrysler added the rear fender skirts the year after the Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser debuted with the same feature. At the time, I thought the fender skirts made both wagons look huge.
It was hard to confuse these with a fuselage Dodge wagon because the Dodges were so rare. I only remember one Dodge fuselage wagon – a loaded 1971 Monaco driven by the family that owned the local Dodge dealership. What still sticks in my mind is the odd wood tone treatment used by Dodge on many of its fuselage wagons.
Full-size Dodges in general were rare (at least, those owned by “civilians”), but the wagons were REALLY rare. The fuselage Plymouth Suburbans were more common. There were two in our neighborhood – a 1971 and a 1973.
I remember commenting with a CC article on the Custom Cruiser that to me, the fender skirts made the Olds and Town and Country wagons look like the automotive equivalents of battleships. They gave these wagons such a dominant presence on the road.
Most of the full-sized (and intermediate) Dodge wagons I saw in the early to mid 70s were Canadian Armed Forces staff cars. Finished in black, with dog dishes. They were seen all over Ottawa at the time.
While I’m not much of a fan of most post ’68 full size American cars, this wagon with the “mag” wheels and blue paint is terrific! Much better than the usual pea green or light brown colors popular then.
The Nixon sticker is also a must have. Imagine people voting for a paranoid, self centered individual who considered himself above the law!
A friend of mine had a 72 Polara version of this wagon. It suffered from all of the fuselage weaknesses, but was a ball to drive. This one is so much nicer.
My uncle had a ’73 Polara he used as his work car – he managed the public golf course my family ran, and it was a sherwood green stripper.
Always thought the ’72-3 Monacos were the trippiest execution with that odd upper body wood trim, but I always liked these. Had a friend who came from a rich, old family with an estate outside Philadelphia. They never got rid of their old cars, just put them under covers in the carriage house – there was a ’70 T&C in there, and I often wonder what became of that pampered fusey.
Our family had the 73 T&C with skirts, dark brown with dinoc. As a newly minted driver in the summer of 73 I learned to drive on this beast. It had a 440 and mileage was a miserable 8 mpg. A couple of months after we got it gas doubled to 60 cents a gallon and millions cried out in pain. My job was to sit in gas lines so my folks wouldn’t have to. It was like riding an elephant in handling but even with all that weight it took off when you needed to and was great for vacations. Seated 9 of my friends and myself fairly comfortably with the rear facing 3rd row. I vaguely remember the starter motor giving my dad fits on a recurring basis. He traded it in about 7 years later at 150K miles. Not bad actually.
Now that’s a wagon! Such a sleek beauty. I grew up driving wagons, as they became my dad’s favorites. A ’64 Pontiac Tempest, a ’68 Pontiac Le mans and finally a ’67 Chevy Bel Air. His last wagons wee a pair of 78 Chevy Mailbu wagons. Those kept company with the ’75 Chevy step side p/u that he bought new. I’d like a big wagon but i’m satisfied with my V8 Ford Explorer.
In high school (1980) I had a ‘71 Fury wagon. I can’t recall if it was a “I” or a “II”. It was pretty bare bones, painted white with poverty caps, the original color was a light blue, it was an ex-Florida Department of Transportation car, with a 318-V8 and a 2:74 gear. Bought it from a friend for $300, he got it from his dad who used it as his daily driver while a photographer for the local paper. Fuel economy was horrible around town at under 10 mpg, but on the highway it would exceed 20 mpg. It was also a police-spec car with a certified 140 mph speedo, and the original police-duty spare tire.
It wasn’t much off the line, but once rolling, it flew. That was probably due to the bad transmission. It was painfully slow from a stop light, it got so it wouldn’t take off unless I turned it off and restarted it. A friend in the know helped me drop the transmission pan which turned out to have a layer of silt in it. Being an older Chrysler product, we were also able to drain the torque converter by accessing an inspection plate and bumping it around until a drain plug appeared. Most cars you have to remove the torque converter in order to drain it. Refilled it, new pan gasket, and all was well, as well as well could be under the circumstances.
Gotta say, that car was a POS. Timing chain broke, I had it fixed but quickly sold it for $200 to a carpet installer, who simply left it on the side of the interstate after the water pump shaft broke. Highway patrol traced the VIN back to me. Wound up junking it for $50.
Nice Cohort shot, it’s even blue.
I am betting it’s a respray, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fuselage Chrysler wagon that wasn’t either that icky metallic green or some form of brown.
These fuselage era C-body wagons look great, and that is a fetching color. Would love to see some interior shots. Don’t like the 17″ or 18″ chrome Torq Thrust wheels…they just don’t fit the vibe of the car and most modern large(r) diameter rims look out of place on most older cars anyway. Some classic 15″ Mopar Rally wheels shod with proper-size thin whitewall radials would be perfect.
Lovely car. My parents had a 1971 Town and Country. Brown metalic with wood grain (of course). It was the fanciest car they had ever owned up to that point, and without a doubt, the largest. It had (I do believe) the 440 and positrac. It was a beast. Before the gas crisis, we regularly drove to New England as well as south (from the DC area where we lived) to the Carolinas. With the 3rd seat, it was the classic American family road trip wagon.
It was also much more car than I wanted to drive when I got my license. Even though driver’s ed took place on mid-sized Oldsmobiles, when I was practicing with my permit I felt that driving the Chrysler was more like piloting some sort of watercraft (a very very powerful watercraft) than driving a car. Fortunately, the other family car was a Fiat 128 (my family lived a life of extremes…). So I quickly decided that the Fiat was going to be the car that did my practicing on. Which turned out to be a good thing as I was probably the only person I knew at age 16 who actually took the license exam in a standard transmission car…and this led to a life-long preference for driving stick.
They kept that car until the mid-80s whereupon it gave its life to save my parents’ lives…as they crested a hill on a 2 lane in Northern Virginia and were hit at speed head on by a Japanese diplomat who apparently had temporarily forgotten about the “right side of the road” thing in the US. The Chrysler was totaled, still drivable but not worth repairing. The other driver I don’t think fared so well unfortunately.
To this day I keep my eyes out for another car like that. Lord knows though I’d have no place to put it.
“The Nixon sticker is also a must have. Imagine people voting for a paranoid, self centered individual who considered himself above the law!”
No need to imagine when we have actual results:
Period bumper sticker seen around New England after McGovern’s shellacking, “Don’t Blame Me, I’m From Massachusetts”.
Yeah, I remember similar “Miss me yet?” bumper stickers not long after the 2008 election.
Those wheels – what shall we call them – mag wheels? Chrome perhaps? I just cannot bring myself to endorse them on this car, they just do not match.
Also, is that the hinge for the rear door sticking out below the Mopar decal and the Nixon sticker in the back window? I think they could have done a much better job concealing that piece of hardware myself.
The front end certainly looks purposeful. Point it in the direction it wants to go in, and there will be no nonsense about getting there. No need for a passenger door mirror. Overall a nice looking car, nicely styled. This is a fine example for a CC afternoon. Thanks for posting!
+1 on the hinge comment.
I very nearly bought one of these. A ’72, if I recall correctly, from a private seller in 1998 or ’99 in Denver. I put a $200 deposit on it, then came to my senses and decided not to proceed.
But this one, except for the goofbat wheels, really looks terrific.
The greatest feature of these old Mopar wagons was the dual air. AMC, Ford & GM wagons of the era didn’t have it. I always wondered why it took everyone so long to copy that feature.
If I recall correctly, the dual air conditioning was a separate option beyond the “regular” air conditioning system.
It needs road wheels to be perfect
There was a nice ‘73 at the Hunt Valley meet-up two years ago…
Thanks BEO… I was looking for my pictures that I shot of that car that day.
It was our group’s favorite, that is until the yellow Lincoln Continental was noticed.
What was special about that T&C, besides the fact the owner was daily driving it as he claimed, was that it had the Wood Delete Option. I imagine back then if you were springing for the most expensive Chrysler, you would want the wood trim too.
I thought the ’69 had the built in grab handles on the rear corners of the car.
I’d certainly be happy to own such a land cruiser.
One thing though, it’s too bad the tail gate trim on the RH side doesn’t line up with the body trim.
“Assist handles” were a $17.70 option.
Add me to the list of fuselage Town & Country lovers. The fuselage styling actually works best with these, simply because of how long they are, really accentuating the whole aircraft fuselage thing. Number one would still be a convertible, but it’d be a real tossup between, say, a four-door Imperial and a Town & Country. As others have said, the coupes were the worst looking of the four body styles.
Make mine a ’71, though. Those still had the original style grille (the ’72 got a less attractive one that came to a point in the center) and ’71 was also the first year without vent windows.
1971 was my favorite year of the fuselage Chrysler’s, I also liked the side mirrors on the 1971-73’s better than the dated 1969-70’s, I didn’t like the 1972-73 styling of the cars as much as the earlier 1969-71’s.
Why, that’s not an early Chrysler fuselage wagon – THIS is!
(NB: This one is the super-basic 3.5 six/140 hp gross “Hemi” 3 speed model from ’71)
Did you buy it justy ?
But then, I am one of those who couldn’t parallel park a Mini on the Nullarbor, so probably for the best.
Great read from all of you. I enjoy the comments.
Thanks for the correction Jason. This is a very sharp old Chrysler wagon. That’s quite the nice specimen. I though that these fuselage Chrysler wagons were quite attractive, until you add the fender skirts which makes them quite unattractive.
“Hop in my chrysler, it’s as big as a whale
And it’s about to set sail
I got me a car, it seats about twenty, so come on
And bring your jukebox money”
52s, B-; circa 1989.
This was the car driven by the Bradford Family on the 70’s TV show Eight is Enough.