1935 Chrysler Airflow Imperial Series C-2
The streamlined, aerodynamic Chrysler Airflow, introduced for the 1934 model year, took wind-cheating design beyond what others had been experimenting with and introduced a raft of other innovative design features as well. Chrysler's attempt to jump ahead of the competition was such a dismal failure in the market that the company's designs became conservative for two more decades. When the radical Airflow model was first released in 1934, the Chrysler Corporation of Detroit, MI, was only 10 years old. One of the young company's strengths was engineering excellence, an outgrowth of Walter P. Chrysler's early experience as a railroad mechanic.
While most automakers of the day still used wood-reinforced metal bodies on a separate steel frame, the Airflow was a unit body design with a full steel body. The conventional inline eight was forward over the front axle allowing for more interior room and a near 50/50 weight distribution.
Chryslers and DeSotos tended to be rather conventional, but this changed with the introduction of the Airflow in 1934. Engineer Carl Breer was inspired by a formation of military airplanes and consulted with Orville Wright regarding aerodynamics and wind tunnel testing. Breer had his colleague Fred Zeder design a strong unibody structure based on the results of this aerodynamic testing. The unconventional design failed to gain much public acceptance although it was miles ahead in safety and strength.
The Airflow was ahead of its time in use of aerodynamics, unibody design and many other innovations but it also suffered from major defects that affected reliability. Sales were dismal, though the Airflow models, including a DeSoto, lasted until 1937.
This C-1 Imperial Airflow is one of 307 Imperial C-2 coupes produced with only six remaining in existence. A complete restoration was done in 2012. The current owner found the car in the possession of the original owner's daughter in California with the original, never-used license plate still in its envelope.
With the name bearing a royal theme, the Imperial symbolized luxury and comfort for the Chrysler Corporation. Even through the depression, Chrysler kept its theme and produced the Imperial with top of the line interior and exterior parts.
Adding to the line was the ideas was of Le Baron - Dietrich and Locke. From this duo of Le Baron & Chrysler came the 1934 Airflow Imperial. Weighing in at over 5,850 pounds, it would be the heaviest production Imperial. The smaller versions would prove to sell better than the larger, more optioned versions. It also featured for the first time, a chassis and body in one piece providing a stronger support for drivers and passengers. The Airflow would also break records on the Utah salt flats and set other new closed stock car records. But by 1937, due to sales, only one Airflow model was being built.
With a little higher price tag than other Chryslers, the company never sold an extensive amount of the Imperials. But regardless, Walter P. Chrysler still gained a niche in the luxury vehicle market.Kyle McMullen
Sold for $66,000 at 2011 RM Auctions - Concours d'Elegance at St. Johns.
The Chrysler Airflow was an aerodynamic masterpiece that, unfortunately, received lukewarm public reception. As a result, production was low and lasted only a few years. In the case of the 1935 Chrysler Imperial Airflow Coupe, 200 units were produced and approximately six examples survive today.
This example was given a concours level restoration in the early 1990s. Upon completion, it won an AACA First Senior badge and was chosen as the cover car for The Hemmings Book of Prewar Chryslers. The current owner purchased the car in 2002. It is painted Putty Beige with a brown mohair interior. Features include the roll-out vee'd windshield, aircraft-inspired interior and vent windows that roll out automatically when the windows are rolled down. Options include fender skirts, front and rear bumpers and front bumper guards. Power is from a 323.5 cubic-inch L-head eight that offers 130 horsepower. There is a three-speed manual transmission and four-wheel vacuum-assisted hydraulic drum brakes.
In 2011, this car was offered for sale at the St. John auction presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $75,000 - $100,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $66,000 including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2011
This example is one of 200 built and one of only 9 known to survive. It was sold new in Reading, PA and has all original dealer material available.
In 1957 it was traded in and two salesmen purchased it after a lot boy used it to push start another car and damaged the grill. Shortly thereafter it went into a barn for the next 35 years.
The car is powered by a 323 cubic inch L-head inline eight cylinder engine developing 120 horsepower. It is factory equipped with overdrive, radio, heater and power brakes.
Related Reading : Chrysler Airflow History
The Chrysler Airflow was introduced in 1934 as an exercise in aerodynamics, form, and function. Soon, the Airflow would be used by the Chryslers counterpart, the DeSoto Motor Company. The interior was surprisingly roomy and comfortable. The eight-cylinder engine provided around 115 horsepower, more depending on the options selected. It was a design that was far ahead of its time. Unfortunately,....Continue Reading >>
Related Reading : Chrysler Airflow History
Produced from 1934 until 1937, the Chrysler Airflow was the original full-size American production vehicle that used streamlining as a basis for building a sleeker automobile, one less susceptible to air resistance. Though it ended up being what is considered by some a commercial failure, Chrysler did made an effort at a fundamental change in automotive design with the Chrysler Airflow. Chryslers....Continue Reading >>