I recently finished reading Walter P. Chrysler’s slim biography (originally serialized in The Saturday Evening Post) titled The Life of an American Workman. Already knowing much of Mr. Chrysler’s basic story, his biography simply filled in a few gaps in which my knowledge was of a more general nature, along with fortifying my belief that true rags to riches stories are rare, and usually involve a preternatural work ethic, managerial skill, and some fortuitous timing. Timing can also relate to buying old cars, and being in a Chrysler mood after reading about the great railroad mechanic turned automotive entrepreneur, I found a couple attractive postwar examples on Facebook Marketplace.
My interest for some reason turned to 1946 to 1948 models, the big, conservative postwar Chryslers that probably last forever given half a chance. The first one I found was this ’48 New Yorker with the stylish “Highlander” upholstery; it was listed for $8500 and was located in Calvert City, KY.
Here is the ad copy: Nice original 1948 Chrysler straight 8 with fluid drive has been stored inside, very nice interior, original paint, this car won’t last long
Usually, when a seller claims that the car won’t be around for long, there is no basis for that claim, but I think this one has a shot. It apparently has 75,000 miles and looks to be in good condition, although there were only three pictures listed in the ad. The color combination and interior are perfect; this is a tempting car, but there’s another one within Facebook’s 500-mile range. EDIT: Within a few days of my finding this ad, it was no longer listed on Marketplace.
This one is a lower-line 1948 Windsor located in Ohio.
Here is the ad: Pretty solid car that I am yet to make time to mess with. Was running and driving two years ago and I have not messed with it and got it running yet. Would make a cool old cruiser. Send me cash or trade offers. Looking for 5k obo Located in waldo ohio (sic) with clean title.
Ah, the classic “ran when parked” ad. This looks like a solid 89,000 mile vehicle, although I’m more tempted by the straight-eight-powered New Yorker (the Windsor has the “Spitfire” six).
I’m fairly suggestible when it comes to cars; if I’m reading about something or see it in a movie, or even if someone mentions it, chances are decent that I’ll be hitting the classifieds within minutes. It’s unlikely that I’ll seriously consider one of these Chryslers, but this week, I’ve begun the process. After all, life’s too short to not learn how to operate a Fluid Drive-equipped Chrysler product. Deja vu: Circa July 19, 2016…
At least this ad has a picture of the engine. It looks like it has new plugs, but the general aura is one of long-time neglect. Plan on a little extra money for ancillaries to get this one going again.
The interior isn’t quite as spiffy as the New Yorker’s either, but it’s also being offered for several thousand dollars less money. I keep hearing how 1940s and ’50s cars are taking a dive in the marketplace, but I don’t know that I’ve seen too much evidence in the classifieds. Both prices seem about right for 1940s sedans, regardless of their sturdy build quality.
Walter P. Chrysler might be my favorite automotive scion; his life never seemed encumbered by the shortcomings of some of his contemporaries. He was perhaps the most able leader in the history of his eponymous organization, risk-taking (Airflow anyone?) but grounded at the same time. He seemed to instinctively know how to choose the right people and let them do their jobs. Unfortunately, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage after suffering a stroke at the age of 65, and although he had stepped down from actively running his company by that point, it’s pretty clear that American business could use more people like him. He seemed genuinely humble while being confident in his abilities. He seemed to make everything he touched more efficient and profitable. Sure, some may say that the Chrysler Building is a bit of an ego trip, but so what?
Buying a neat old Chrysler from those early postwar years seems like a fitting way to honor a man as monumental as Mr. Walter P. Chrysler. If one can’t own the Chrysler Building, at least one can own a New Yorker.
Postscript: I was so interested in Chryslers last week that I visited the local antique store and bought a Saturday Evening Post from 1946 that contained this advertisement for the Chrysler Town and Country, and thought that some of you may be interested in seeing it.