1941-1984 Chrysler Town & Country

1946 Chrysler Town & Country Product Line
The roof rack shifted to all chrome and became standard for the T&C sedan in July 1947.
The roof rack shifted to all chrome and became standard for the T&C sedan in July 1947.

The 1946 Chrysler Town & Country product line expanded due to the "woodies" popularity in the 1940s.

Although T&Cs were the strongest wagons ever produced up to that time, thanks mainly to the sturdy all-steel roof without the customary fabric insert, Chrysler product planners decided that utility wasn't really what sold them.

What mattered was their unusual and handsome looks, a beautiful blend of woodwork and metal. Besides, Chrysler was planning its first all-steel station wagons even before the war ended (Plymouth broke the ice in that field in 1949). So, Wallace altered his game plan once car production resumed in 1946.

Now there would be a distinct line of wood-trimmed luxury models bearing the Town & Country name, including a formal-roof brougham sedan, a convertible, a conventional sedan, a two-seat roadster, and even a pillarless two-door coupe.

The last was arguably the most interesting and significant Town & Country. It was the first modern hardtop, three years ahead of GM's pioneering pillarless trio and grandaddy of the body style that would dominate the American auto industry for the next 20 years.

Chrysler built it by grafting the steel roof from its club coupe onto a conventional T&C convertible but had second thoughts about volume production. Only seven were completed, and only one of these survives today.

Also announced for 1946 were the brougham, a roadster with huge blind quarters (which prefigured the later Dodge Wayfarer), and a six-cylinder convertible on the shorter wheelbase.

However, except for a single brougham and short-chassis convertible, both prototypes, none of these saw actual production. "The sales department was just fishing around in the beginning," remembered stylist Buzz Grisinger. "Postwar plans were pretty much a hurry-up thing. There weren't any clay models or production prototypes. We just designed a series of different styles and brushed on wood trim where we thought it looked aesthetically best. Sales took it from there."

And where the sales department took it was to convertibles and four-door sedans. More than half of the 16,000 T&Cs built through 1950 were the 1946, 1947, and 1948 convertibles.

Dave Wallace's personal T&C hardtop was retrofitted with a padded roof.

All employed the holdover 127.5-inch-wheelbase chassis, designated C-39, and were powered by the New Yorker's familiar 135-horsepower L-head straight eight. Priced $600 above the standard New Yorker soft-top, these were the cars prized by many Hollywood heavies.

For example, Leo Carillo, perhaps best remembered now for his television role as the Cisco Kid's sidekick Pancho, liked his T&C convertible so much that he fitted it with the head of a longhorn steer -- its eyes wired to blink along with the turn signals -- and monogrammed hubcaps. This car later became part of the Harrah Collection in Reno, Nevada.

Continue to the next page to learn more about the building of the 1946, 1947, and 1948 Chrysler Town & Country convertibles.

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