I found this postwar Chrysler parked off a sidestreet. Not something you see everyday.
I can’t really think of much to say about this car in specific – it’s an old car from the 1940s. I suppose it has some interesting old technology in it, or some particular details that make it a Chrysler Windsor and not an Austin or a Buick or a Peugeot.
But they all share the same hallmarks of post-war production – big, wide-radius curves, concealing lofty, drafty interior caverns. They’d kill you if you got into a crash; they had no computer-engineered safety cages, or padded dashboards. Looking at a car like this today I see a thin veneer of pressed steel over churning, spinning, flesh-tearing oiled mechanicals.
As has been stated a thousand times before, the demand for cars in America, suppressed during the war years, exploded just as civilian production started up again. Coming out of wartime production into a seller’s market forced some interesting decisions by the automakers. First of all, carmakers didn’t know how to design their cars – Should they be daring and forward-looking in a forward-looking time? Should they be conservative and not risk scaring customers away with radical looks and technology? For the first few years, it didn’t really matter, as Americans bought any car they could get their hands on, even stodgy and conservative Chryslers like this one.
But that sort of historical information doesn’t weigh heavily on this car’s sloping shoulders, mainly because it’s so damn old. An ‘old’ car is usually a car that’s been on the road for about fifteen or twenty years. A 60 year-old car that is still on the road is certainly quite different from everything else around it.
What is so different about post-war cars are that they are just losing the art-deco details carried by the last really, really old automobiles. Cars from the late 1940s, and to a lesser extent the cars from the early 1950s, are about the oldest cars that still look like the cars people drive today. They look more like cars and less like antiques, as would a car even from the late 1930s.
So for me, it is not a very emotive car, but it is hard for me to imagine that this is anything but as emotive as a car can be for its owner. Certainly it is quite a step to buy, operate and drive such an old vehicle and I’m sure that this is a car laden with memories.
Fluid drive is very much a relic to me, not a historical object. To many folks out there it is a deeply engaging thing. Driving along using the clutch some of, but not all of the time is only part of what must be a very different, involved driving style needed for taking this car around.
I did not dream of motoring from behind a split windshield when I photographed this car – it is too old, too removed from what I conceive of as driving – it is an object to me – an old, dangerous, crude thing. Then again, it is like a sculpture in many ways, and a great thing to photograph.