1948 Chrysler Town & Country Convertible
Prices have skyrocketed on high-quality Town and Country convertibles following the CCCA announcement, and these cars rightly deserve their place on the roster.
The Chrysler Town and Country is perhaps the best-known of all woodies. With a limited production run and a top-of-the-line reputation, their recent addition to the CCCA’s list of Full Classics has made them some of the most sought-after post-war convertibles. Only 8368 were built between 1946 and 1948, making them quite rare, and the wood bodies have only served to further cull their numbers, with some sources suggesting that fewer than 200 1948 models still exist.
This lovely 1948 Town and Country was restored to show-winning standards several years ago and only lightly used since. Still presenting in outstanding condition throughout, with beautiful wood, an unmarked interior, and 100% of its equipment fully functional, it is a wonderful candidate for shows and touring. Finished in soft Noel Green, it perfectly complements the ash frame and mahogany panels aft of the firewall. It appears that most of the wood is original, suggesting that this car has always been meticulously maintained, and the restoration merely restored and preserved the already excellent woodwork. Today there are few signs of age, and the joints remain tight, the doors and trunk fit beautifully, and the varnish offers a gentle shine that looks exactly right.
Everything forward of the windshield is identical to a Chrysler New Yorker, and the long hood and fenders have been expertly refinished. Paint quality is excellent throughout with no damage or noteworthy scars, and of course there is no rust or filler anywhere on the car. All the chrome was restored to show standards, including the intricate egg crate grille up front, which is one of the more challenging pieces of any era. Correct Town & Country emblems have been fitted to the hood, and the Chrysler hood ornament still shows crisp details. Other items, such as the massive trunk hinges that look like they belong on a yacht, as well as the standard New Yorker taillights fitted to their own wooden pods, are superbly finished and dress the car up like jewelry.
The Town and Country was all about sophistication, and the combination of tan broadcloth and green leather inside ideally suits the sporty woody. Stitched in the correct patterns and showing only light wear, the interior is an inviting place to spend a week touring the countryside in 1940s luxury. Matching green carpets are bound by green leather, and the door panels are like new. That gorgeous green steering wheel must have been astronomically expensive to restore and is an unusual treat where most cars of the period used a standard cream color. All the gauges have been restored and work as they should, and the radio plays loud and clear. Other noteworthy details include dual heaters under the dash, courtesy lights (including the driver’s side that flashes to remind you to release the parking brake), and a windshield washer system. The only notable demerit is an incorrect shift knob, and we are already seeking a proper replacement. Overhead, the green power top folds effortlessly into the well, where it is hidden by a matching green vinyl boot, and the fully finished trunk remains in excellent shape.
Chrysler’s dependable, smooth, and powerful Spitfire straight-eight engine powered all New Yorkers, including the Town and Country. Displacing 323 cubic inches, it makes a robust 135 horsepower and its smooth flow of torque moves the sporty convertible with aplomb. Fully detailed at the time of restoration, there is, of course, evidence that it has been driven, but it still presents well. It starts quickly, idles properly, and drives as it should, with easy 70 MPH cruising possible thanks to the two-range Fluid Drive transmission and 3.54 gear set out back. With crisp shifts and a fluid coupling that eliminates the need for the clutch in routine driving, Fluid Drive was a reliable, durable system that served Chrysler well for many years, and once you’ve familiarized yourself with its operation, it becomes second nature. Braking is firm, there are zero squeaks and rattles, and those lovely 8.25-15 BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whites are simply dazzling around the full hubcaps and wide trim rings.
Prices have skyrocketed on high-quality Town and Country convertibles following the CCCA announcement, and these cars rightly deserve their place on the roster. With impressive power and performance and that timeless wooden body, they are exactly the kind of hand-crafted rolling works of art the CCCA was founded to celebrate. This one is an ideal tour candidate that is fully serviced and ready to go, and with just a bit of sweat equity, could be ready for the show field once again. If you’ve been looking for a Town and Country, it will be a challenge to find one nicer than this.