- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2007

Any vehicle with four wheels and an engine was easy to sell to the car-starved American public after World War II. Civilian automobile production had ceased early in 1942, and for several years after the war, most car makers simply produced 1942 models that had been updated only slightly.

A Windsor convertible — one of the sporty 1947 model year Chryslers made in those first few years after the war — has survived six decades and was exactly the type of car for which Dave Blum had been shopping.

He found the shiny black car in Fredericksburg, Va., and was immediately impressed with the Highlander plaid upholstery. The Chrysler even had Fluid Drive, a feature he wanted. Mr. Blum purchased the Chrysler April 12 and had it hauled to a trusted mechanic, where it underwent a complete physical.

As it turned out, the old car’s 250-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine only required a simple tuneup to resume motoring. “It doesn’t smoke,” a happy Mr. Blum observed. He found records that show the 3,693-pound convertible sold new with a base price of $1,861 — about 50 cents a pound.

Post-war Chryslers featured very long engine hoods, about 1½ feet longer than necessary, which proved very popular. Beneath the engine hood is the L-head 114-horsepower engine. Beside the engine is the Chrysler full-flow oil filter. Between the radiator and the grille is about 1½ feet of space occupied by nothing.

Why is it there? Style, of course.

The car’s stylish lines would have been compromised if the designers had eliminated its long nose.

The wraparound front bumper is protected by three large bumper guards. The trio also provide a modicum of protection for the wall-to-wall chrome-plated eggcrate grille.

Inside the convertible, passengers are greeted by spacious seating. In an effort to provide winter weather comfort to rear seat passengers, there is duct work through the sides of the car, including the doors, to allow heat to be directed to the rear passenger compartment.

The matching twin gooseneck exterior mirrors are attractive, but Mr. Blum said the right one can’t be seen from the driver’s seat.

Style wasn’t limited to the front exterior of the car.

Carpeting in the cockpit is maroon while the dashboard is painted black. In pre-power steering days, the shoulderwide, three-spoke steering wheel was a necessity. A chrome-plated 360-degree horn ring adds sparkle to the interior.

In order to give the passengers an extra inch or two of hip room, all of the window cranks have metal knobs that swivel flat against the side panels when not in use.

The Fluid Drive transmission is Chrysler’s effort to make driving a shiftless enterprise in pre-automatic transmission days.

Instead of the traditional “H” shift pattern on three-speed transmissions, Chrysler eliminated the first gear position for Fluid Drive. The driver still had to operate the “Safety Clutch” but simply put the car in motion by placing the shift lever in the second gear position. Once the car was moving about 20 or 30 mph, the driver lifted his foot off the accelerator until a “click” was heard from the transmission, indicating that the car was now in high gear. Then the driver could push on the accelerator to reach the desired speed.

The speedometer has numbers up to 110 mph, but “it would take a long time to get there,” Mr. Blum noted.

The weatherproof top has a small rectangular glass rear window. When the top is lowered, the boot is held in place by 15 snaps.

Chrysler was way ahead of the rest of the market when they placed the brake light in the center of the trunk lid. The car has a single backup light near the left rear corner of the car to aid the driver at night. The rear bumper wraps around from the rear of one rear wheel well to the other. Only two bumper guards protect the rear of the car. The trunk is cavernous.

The convertible is loaded with unique and convenient features, including the remote gas cap, which pops open by pressing a button under the dashboard.

The 7.60-inch-by-15-inch white sidewall tires are dressed up with trim rings on the wheels and raised “Chrysler” lettering on the hub caps.

While driving his Chrysler on its 121.5-inch wheelbase, Mr. Blum expressed amazement at how well the car handles. “It keeps the road like it had radials,” he said.

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