1949 Chrysler Town & Country

by | May 7, 2019

Photos ©2019 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1949 Chrysler Town & Country

by | May 7, 2019

Photos ©2019 Courtesy of RM Auctions

YEAR

1949

MODEL

Town & Country

MANUFACTURER

Chrysler

ESTIMATE (US)

$45,000 - $55,000

AUCTION COMPANY

RM Sotheby's

AUCTION DATE

May 29 - June 1

Chrysler has bolted the name Town & Country on various vehicles for decades. From 1990 to 2016, it was attached to an upscale minivan, which was then replaced by the Pacifica. From 1951 until 1988, the Town & Country was a steel-bodied station wagon that varied from huge and overstyled to small and square, though for a few years in the late 1960s the line also included a coupe and convertible.

But that is only part of the T&C story, and not the most interesting one.

What RM Sotheby’s offers in its Auburn, Indiana, auction is an “original” Town & Country, one of the cars that lent their sheen to all those lesser vehicles with the same name that followed them. There were two waves of real woodies. The first came in 1941-42, and those cars were massive eight-passenger station wagons. That run ended with World War II, but the T&C was back in 1946 as a 4-door sedan or 2-door convertible, a lineup that continued until 1948. As of 1949, only the woodie convertible was available, and the version on the block at Auburn is one of just 1,000 made that year.

They are handsome cars so evocative of the era. The light-colored white ash is a warm contrast to the car’s paint color. Unlike the earlier Town & Country, the body is all steel with the wood as an accent, not a structural material. Naturally, there is plenty of chrome up front leading the way. Under that long hood is a 323.5-cu.in. Spitfire straight-8 with 135 hp matched to a Presto-Matic fluid-drive transmission.

This was the era of the front bench seat, and ahead of the driver is a large round instrument cluster with the speedometer in its center. Apparently, Chryslers of this vintage were the first cars to use a key rather than a button to start the engine.

Even today, you might wonder if you could reach over to that push-button radio and tune in to hear what kind of season Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson are having.

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