The Chrysler Corporation was not incorporated until 1925, but Walter P. Chrysler was already hard at work putting the ailing Maxwell Motor Company back on track, and in the process putting his name proudly on his work. 1924 marked the first year of production for Chrysler cars, and they quickly earned a reputation for outstanding quality, performance and value. Walter P. Chrysler wanted to build mass-market cars that were superior in quality to the average Ford, but at a more affordable price point than the higher-end Buicks and Cadillacs. The new Model 70 debuted in 1924, named for its 70mph top speed. The Model 70’s centerpiece was its exceptionally well-engineered powerplant. The six-cylinder engine featured a 7-main bearing crankshaft, high compression cylinder head (4.7:1 vs. an industry standard of 4:1), the very first replaceable oil filter and a full pressurization lubrication system. Also, the chassis featured four wheel brakes – a first on a mass-market car. No fewer than nine different body styles were available on the Model 70, the most sporting of which is the rumble seat roadster, as featured here.
The Model 70 proved itself to be quite a successful competition car. Ralph de Palma was one of many drivers who saw the potential of the Model 70 in competition. He set several 1000 mile speed records and also won the Mt. Wilson Hill Climb in 1924. The Model 70 saw overseas success as well, with Malcolm Campbell piloting his Model 70 to a win in the 1925 “100 Short” at Brooklands. It was also the first American automobile to compete at LeMans – nearly beating the mighty Bentley Boys in the process. A fine record for what was seen as a mid-market, affordable automobile.
The 1925 Model 70 Roadster presented here was most recently part of the collection of Martin Swig. Mr. Swig is perhaps best known as the founder of the California Mille, and a great admirer of early Chrysler cars. In fact, he quite literally wrote the book on the early Chryslers as he was co-author of Chryslers in Competition: European Road Racing 1925-1931. Following a long search, he acquired this car in the late 1990’s from an estate in Washington State. While little is known about its early history, it is believed that it has been a Northwest car its entire life and it is believed the car was in the same hands for several decades. It shows today in pleasing, highly original condition, appearing to have one repaint in its original color scheme.
While in Swig’s ownership, the front seat was reupholstered, but the door panels and remaining upholstery were preserved. It otherwise has remained charmingly original and correct. The tri-tone color scheme suits the car very well and is adorned with period graphics celebrating the Chrysler 70’s motorsport successes. It sits proudly on large artillery wheels with purposeful blackwall tires. The engine bay is nicely detailed, but retains a functional and business-like appearance. The large nickel radiator and nickel headlamps dominate the front end, and the famous winged Chrysler radiator mascot sits on top. Out back, a rear mount spare tire and splash guards lend a purposeful and sporty character.
This delightful Chrysler 70 is not a showpiece, but rather, is a car that one would be proud to show off on the open road. Limited recent use means we would suggest a mechanical freshening, but it is otherwise very sound. This fine automobile would be an ideal entrant for long distance touring events such as the Great Race, California Mille, New England 1000 or any other tours. Few cars of the era can match the Chrysler Model 70 for its sporting pedigree, rarity, and exceptional engineering all at a price that makes it attainable for the average enthusiast.