Chrysler Town & Country

Station wood wagons pulled by horses were once a primary means of commercial transportation in the United States. Whether to meet guests in the town or at the train station, their position was undisputed. Wealthy people bought them for occasional trips to their hunting lodge or summer vacation home.

It was only a matter of time when someone from the automotive industry would use the basic concept with a motor engine. In 1941 Chrysler President David Wallace took the idea and brought it into reality, in the shape of Chrysler Town and Country model.

Some sources attribute the first drawings of similar wagons to Paul Hafer from Boyertown Body Works. His plan was to create a vehicle able to drive between the urban city environment and difficult country roads, equally fitting in both areas.

Chrysler wanted to bring a model with such unique features to the general public, despite the harsh conditions on the American car market. Remember, it was a time at the beginning of World War II and the entire country was being extremely careful in observing events in Europe.

Chrysler Town & Country was designed as station wagon made in part from wood wagon, but with a strong steel roof. The roof section was actually borrowed from Chrysler Imperial sedan and limousine, creating a specific rear loading design with wooden double doors below a fixed rear window.

A big advantage was a large interior space that could hold six or nine passengers. The body was placed on the 121.5 inch wheelbase C-28W Windsor chassis. As far as the power goes, a 112 hp L-head six engine was installed along with standard Fluid Drive and Vacumatic transmission. Production was 997 units for 1941, followed by 999 of the 1942 when the car production stopped during World War II.

American public found the model intriguing, a balance between the modern age and old Wild West traditions. Chrysler management saw potential in the concept, making plans to expand the Town & Country into a separate lineup of cars after the war. Hollywood stars were among the first to see the luxury in Town & Country, when famous icons of the era like Clark Gable, Bob Hope and Barbara Stanwyck bought their rides.

After the war, in 1946 Chrysler started the production of Town & Country lineup as planned, with a slight modification. Station wagon model was removed from the offer, which now comprised of sedans, coupes, and convertibles. The woodwork quality was extraordinary - hewn of white ash was fitted with the perfection, along the joints crafted so precisely that you could hardly tell where they were.

Body panels followed suit with heavy metal objects and doors, hood, and trunk just screaming ingenuity. Every square inch of wood was brilliantly finished, bolts almost invisible at the first glance. Interior design was equally impressive, with a unique steel radio, a large steering wheel and a stylish handbrake.

In 1948 the basic model price was around $3,400 meaning the majority of people could only read about this masterpiece. Original woodie Town & Country production ended in 1950. In comparison to regular models of the era, it took far more time and skill to make a single vehicle.

Three full eight hour shifts were needed to produce 10 units per day, making the total production volume low. Since the final result was amazing and materials used were only the best, Town & Country model was sold at high price back then. Even today, this particular model remains popular among the collectors, but there is a limited quantity on the market making them rare and even more expensive at auctions.

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