1941-1984 Chrysler Town & Country

1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, and 1950 Chrysler Town & Country
The eight-cylinder convertible accounted for the bulk of Town & Country production through 1950.
The eight-cylinder convertible accounted for the bulk of Town & Country production through 1950.

Except for some minor changes, the 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, and 1950 Town & Country models didn't change much in style, while other automobile manufacturers rolled out new styles.

The 1946, 1947, and 1948 Town & Country convertibles, however, were so all-fired glamorous that they tended to eclipse the 121.5-inch-wheelbase four-door sedans, which in their own way were just as stunning. Their interiors were richly finished with wood paneling set off by leather, Bedford cord, Saran plastic, or vinyl upholstery, plus color-keyed carpeting.

A lovely wood luggage rack was optional (its roof runners were changed to chrome-plated metal in mid-1947, when it was made standard). To many collectors, the sedans are the real sleepers among the early postwar T&Cs because they're a lot scarcer than the ragtops.

The Chrysler Town & Country convertible was a glamorous, popular model.

Only 224 sedans were designated 1946 models, 2,651 were 1947s, and 1,175 were 1948s. A mere 100 of the 1946s were eight-cylinder models on the longer New Yorker wheelbase, the rarest production Town & Country of all.

When most Detroit manufacturers launched their first all-new designs for 1949, the Town & Country began to wane. It had, after all, been only a stop-gap item with little sales significance.

The 1949 convertible is the scarcest of the volume ragtops and an eminently collectible automobile.

Its greatest benefit in the immediate postwar period was to entice people back into Chrysler showrooms -- people who would, it was hoped, be inspired to order one of the more conventional, less costly models. Like the contemporary Ford and Mercury Sportsman convertibles and the Nash Suburban sedan, the T&C was a marketing concept designed to add needed glamour to a line of 1946-1948 cars that were little more than warmed-over 1942s.

The 1950 Town & Country Newport hardtop coupe was the last of the glamorous wood-body models.

Thus, it was no surprise that when Chrysler trotted out its all-new body design for 1949, T&C offerings were trimmed. Only an eight-cylinder convertible with considerably less woodwork was available, and sales for the model totaled exactly 1,000.

The model returned with the same basic body for 1950 but as a Newport hardtop (a convertible was considered but scratched). Like the 1949, it was mounted on the 131.5-inch New Yorker chassis and was powered by the familiar 135-horsepower 323.5-cubic inch straight eight. Unique to the 1950 T&C (and the long-wheelbase Imperial) were disc brakes, one of the first applications on a U.S. production automobile.

The name was too good to lose, of course, and Chrysler never gave it up. Along with the T&C Newport for 1950 appeared two Town & Country station wagons, either wood or steel, in the bottom-line Royal series.

The 1950 Town & Country Newport offered vast interior space front and rear.

The hardtop vanished the following year, but the wagons were expanded with entries in the three lower lines: Windsor, Saratoga, and New Yorker. From here on, whenever Chrysler had a wagon to sell it would be called Town & Country. But wood, as a decorative or support structure, vanished after 1950, and what looked like wood was merely decal.

To learn more about the 1968 and 1984 Revivals of the Town & Country Concept, see the next page.

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