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1934-1937 Chrysler/DeSoto Airflow

1936 Chrysler/DeSoto Airflow

In the end, despite all their experimentation, Chrysler had no need for either compact cars or Airflow-based Plymouths. The latter were made redundant by the success of Airstream styling, which was corporate-wide by 1936 (including the 1936 Chrysler/DeSoto Airflow, discussed below) and quickly put sales back in the pink.

As for compacts, the public was far from ready to embrace such cars in significant numbers, particularly once the national economy began its slow but steady recovery after 1934. Chrysler's last experimental small car of the decade was the AW, built in 1937 and all but identical in appearance to the standard 1938 Plymouth.

1936 Chrysler/DeSoto Airflow
The basic four-door remained the most popular
Chrysler Airflow for 1936. Part of the C9 series,
it retailed new for $1,345.

For 1936, all Airflows got new die-cast grilles, taillamps sensibly relocated into the rear fenders, a steel roof insert, and a long-overdue bustleback trunk on sedans. In addition, body style offerings thinned and most of the original design's interesting "art deco" touches, including the tubular seat frames, went by the wayside.

Model designations at Chrysler changed to C9, C10, and C11. The CW disappeared as part of the advertised line but was still available to special order. The 1935 DeSoto Series S2 was billed as the "Airflow III," but there were now just two models, five-passenger coupe and four-door sedan, priced at $1,095 apiece.

How did the 1936 Chrysler Airflow stack up to its competitors? Use the chart below to find out:

Comparative Specifications: 1936 Chrysler Airflow vs. the Competition

Chrysler Airflow C9
LaSalle Series 50
Buick Series 80
Auburn 852
Lincoln Zephyr
Engine type I-8 I-8 I-8 I-8 V-12
cid 323.5 248.0 320.2 279.9 267.3
Valves side side overhead side side
bhp@rpm 115@3400* 105@3600
120@3200 115@3600 110@3900
C.R. (:1)
6.2* 6.25 5.45 6.5 7.1
Main bearings
5 5 5 5 4
Wheelbase (in.)
123.0 120.0 131.0 127.0 122.0
Brakes hydraulic hydraulic
hydraulic hydraulic
Brake area (sq. in.)
198.8 207.0
181.4 194.2 168.0
Tire size
7.00x16 7.00x16 7.00x16 6.50x16 7.00x16
Body construction
unit composite composite composite
Body builder
Budd Fisher
Fisher Auburn
Weight (lbs.)
3,828 3,745 4,098 3,835 3,470
Price $1,345 $1,225 $1,225 $1,268 $1,230

*6.5:1 optional; 120 horsepower @ 3400 rpm
Sources: MoToR, November 1935; NADA Official Used Car Guide, May 1937; MoToR, January 1936.

This turned out to be another banner year for Chrysler Corporation, which saw sales soar by nearly 28 percent. However, of the 71,295 Chryslers built during 1936, fewer than nine percent were Airflows. Model year volume for the DeSoto Airflow was down to a paltry 5,000 units.

Continue to the next page to learn about the 1937 Chrysler Airflow.

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