Greg's List: Chrysler Airflow
By Greg Warner
The beautifully flowing, streamlined Chrysler "Airflow" models were only produced from 1934 to 1937. The futuristic looking (for their day) "Airflow" models were an attempt by Chrysler (and it's top engineers, including Carl Breer, Fred Zeder and Owen Skelton, oddly enough, with the approval of the normally conservative Walter P. Chrysler himself), to set themselves apart from the standard, "boxy" looking, cars of the day and to create a more aerodynamically streamlined vehicle for the masses. Chrysler even went so far as to build a wind tunnel in Highland Park, MI, for testing their airflow efficiency (hence the name "Airflow") and streamlining theories and applying them to full-sized production vehicles. Well . . . some ideas are way ahead of their time, and this evidently, was one of them. As aerodynamically efficient and innovative in new manufacturing techniques the "Airflow" cars were, they unfortunately bombed in the all-important area of being "accepted" by the general public. Unfortunately, the impact and significance of its' advanced design characteristics would not be fully appreciated until many years later.
Along with the standard carry-over vehicles from 1933, Chrysler added several models of the new "Airflow" design to its lineup, including a 2-door coupe and several variations of 4-door sedans. They all came with Flathead, "straight" 8-cylinder engines and manual transmissions. From wind tunnel testing (with input from Orville Wright, yes, of the famous Wright Brothers) they were able to test scaled down models of various designs to decide what worked best for the least amount of "air-resistance". They used these amazing results and aircraft design principals, to create a vehicle that had much less "air-drag" than conventional vehicles of the day and also came up with new ideas for manufacturing a lighter "monocoque" or unit-construction design which was both stronger and lighter. The new design allowed the engine to be moved farther forward in the chassis, placing it over the front suspension rather that mostly behind it. While in the rear, the drive-axle was moved farther back, placing the passengers in the center of the wheelbase rather than directly over the rear axle. This new suspension placement (creating nearly a 50/50 weight balance) afforded better handling characteristics and a much softer "ride" than ever before.
Even though the Chrysler "Airflow" had legendary performance for its day (like 95.7 miles per hour on the "Flying Mile" at the Bonneville Salt Flats and setting 72 new national speed records) its detractors were many and especially the competition (mainly GM) who continually slammed it in the media (jealousy maybe?) and spread mostly false rumors that they were unsafe and terribly "flawed" vehicles! This was not true! In fact, to test its strength and durability, a publicity stunt was devised, and pulled off, where they pushed a new "Airflow" off a 110 foot cliff somewhere in Pennsylvania and after it landed, somewhat damaged of course, it was put back on its wheels and was able to drive away! What car today could even do that??? As a result, just under 30,000 units were produced in the entire four year run of the "Airflow", making any and all remaining units very scarce and desirable today!
Check out the breathtakingly beautiful 1934 Chrysler "Airflow" offered here #CC-194054 on ClassicCars.com by John Scotti Classic Cars of Montreal, Quebec, Canada (phone: 888-712-5899) and all the other fine vehicles they have for sale as well as the thousands of vehicles available on our site ClassicCars.com!
Quiz of the week: What movie won the top five Oscars (or "Grand Slam" of the Oscar world) in 1934?
Bonus question: What infamous criminal duo was set-up, ambushed and gunned down by police in Louisiana in 1934 in their beloved, stolen 1934 Ford V8 Sedan?
Answers: It Happened One Night, Bonnie and Clyde!
Thanks for reading! Have fun and please drive safely to help preserve the hobby we all know and love!
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