Perhaps the most successful wood-bodied vehicles of all, the Chrysler Town & Country enjoyed a long production run that stretched more than a decade. For luxury-minded buyers, it was hard to beat the cache of bodywork that was so obviously hand-made, and Chrysler was certain to emphasize the car?s connections to the good life: yachts, hunting, and horses were the mainstay of period advertising. The cars commanded a premium when they were new, which made them rare, but time and the elements inevitably claimed most of the natural materials on neglected examples, making finding a good Town & Country today a rare thing indeed.
This 1949 Town & Country convertible offers an all-new body style that was revamped in 1949 to reflect the trend towards longer, lower, and wider styling. At once contemporary and traditional, the wood was no longer structural but became decoration, which preserved the car?s good looks while improving structural rigidity and serviceability. Featuring a full frame-off restoration to extremely high standards, this handsome convertible was a repeat show winner and remains an exquisite automobile today. The Gulf Green finish is correct, and offers a soft contrast with the woodwork and tan convertible top. The ash framework is original and has been fully restored. Paint and chrome are outstanding, and this has never been a rusty car or in need of body panel replacement. The stainless has been buffed, and it offers a highly detailed hood ornament that?s simply spectacular. This car is very impressive at every level.
The interior offers a traditional late-40s look with durable and attractive tan Bedford cord and contrasting green leather, a tasteful combination that works well with the light green bodywork. As inviting as a wood-paneled study, it was fully restored with the rest of the car and shows almost no wear or signs of use. Correct light green carpets, wonderfully trimmed door panels with lots of bright accents, a leather-wrapped padded dash, and particularly the back seat all look as new. The instruments are housed in a single pod ahead of the driver, as was the fashion at the time, and they are crisply rendered and fully functional. All the chrome remains bright with sharp details, and accessories like the heater and radio operate correctly. The tan canvas top has probably never been folded, and offers a small glass rear window in place of the original plastic curtain for a more formal look. In the trunk, you?ll find original sisal carpets and a restored steel wheel that is in need of a matching spare tire.
Mechanically, the 1949 Town & Country was largely carryover, including the 323 cubic inch straight-8 engine. In this car, it was fully rebuilt and detailed for show, demonstrating bright silver paint on the engine, proper ?Spitfire? spark plug loom, and an oil bath air cleaner. The massive heater/defroster assembly dominates the passenger?s side of the engine compartment, and remains fully functional, quite useful during our sub-freezing photo shoot. It starts quickly and easily and settles into a powerful-sounding idle with eight cylinders purring away. It?s linked to Chrysler?s famous Fluid-Drive transmission, a curious blend of a manual transmission with a torque converter, but in practice it?s quite easy to drive around town. On the highway, the big eight cylinder stretches its legs and can cruise effortlessly at modern highway speeds thanks to a set of 3.54 gears retrofitted out back. The chassis was also detailed for show during the frame-off restoration, and shows only the most minor signs of use and needs nothing more than a quick wipe-down to be ready for the show field. Correct 8.20-15 BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whitewall tires were fitted and correct full wheelcovers sparkle like new in their centers.
The woodies were dying off in 1949, but the Chrysler Town & Country remained the undisputed queen of the timber. Sleeker and more modern than the earlier cars, this 1949 is a rare find that has had a top-flight restoration and has been treated as a show car ever since. Recently and extensively serviced, it is ready to show or tour at almost any level.