1946-1949 Chrysler Windsor Fluid Drive

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.

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7 Responses to 1946-1949 Chrysler Windsor Fluid Drive

  1. Ben Orlove says:

    Split windshields! When I was a kid in the 1950s, I would spend time each summer at my Aunt Gert’s house in Connecticut, a mile and a half from the lake, on a dirt road. Sometimes we would hitch a ride back from the lake with a neighbor, Ed Knapp, who had an old house (they cooked on a wood stove) and a huge vegetable garden (with a corn patch, a hen house, and a few goats). He worked at a boathouse on the lake for some extra cash. His old car had a split windshield. Sometimes I would cram into the front seat with my sister or a cousin and get a good view of it. I remember the stubby windshield wipers vividly.

  2. Kjetil Magne Haugen says:

    Hi; I am also a happy owner to an old Crysler Windsor from 1946, Importet to Norway late 46, one owner in 64 year, when he died, his son sold the car to me.
    The car have not been started, since 1976. parched in a garage for nerly 40 years.
    The car is in orginal and good shape, I am now started with the restoratins.
    May be I need some tips , from you.

    nice to read aboat yor car and storry hven you were yong in america. Tank you.

  3. James DeFehr says:

    i have one for sale

  4. RON PRICE says:

    you sound like a real idiot. who cant see how the old world is far better than the new. have fun with your digital camera douche…

  5. Neil says:

    You are one of the poor souls who has been misled into thinking technology is BETTER, tooling around in your computer and sensor driven, stamped Tupperware, personality-less, disposable cars, thinking you’re doing the world a favor because you’re getting 35 mpg. YOU are a fool. The fact that this car is still on the road today is a testament to a better time, when things were made to last, and with proud human hands. A time when families used to pile into a car such as this for no other reason than to go for a ride on a sunny Sunday afternoon… as a family. A time when a car was as thrilling to look at as it was to drive. You knew what was coming toward you by the grille, what had just passed you by the tail lights, and what you were sitting in by the gauge cluster. Horsepower was derived from the mechanical workings of a carbureted engine, and could be altered by an intelligent MECHANIC with a set of tools, not some kid with a laptop remapping the fuel system. EVERYTHING the world YOU live in stands for the downfall of the modern family, American pride, ingenuity, and thus civilization as a whole. There has not been a REAL car made since 1986. You keep buying your overpriced Japanese made CRAP. I’ll keep restoring these “pressed steel over churning, spinning, flesh-tearing oiled mechanical” beasts and putting them back on the road, where they belong. I feel sorry for you, you pathetic, blind little person.

    PS – I’m only 37. I wasn’t even driving yet when the REAL cars died, and even I can see how blind you truly are.

  6. MJ Wright says:

    Wow, lots of passion here! I grew up with a similar car – 1948 De Soto. Wonderful riding and solid as a rock. My father kept a car 10 years and was an electrical engineer who did much of his own work on the cars he had. Kept the De Soto spotless and I remember many road trips in the big mohair backseat. They were nice vehicles of distinction. These are very nice photos!

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