The concept of the wood-bodied car, or Woody, as it is most commonly known, was not invented by Chrysler, but it can be argued that it was perfected by them. Born out of necessity, the earliest woodies were basic, utilitarian bodies that were sold in the aftermarket to adapt to the Model T chassis and others. Eventually, the structural and functional wood became a point of style, and by the mid 1930’s most manufacturers began to offer well-equipped station wagons with wood bodies. But it was Chrysler with their Town & Country of 1941 that was first to offer a woody that was both stylish and ultra-luxurious. The Town & Country was a top of the line luxury machine that combined the best of the New Yorker from the windscreen forward with an opulent “country home” feel from the windscreen back. The T&C was expensive to build, expensive to buy, required specialized maintenance but it proved a success and soon other manufacturers were jumping on the bandwagon. But few could match the Chrysler’s commercial success or the sheer sense of occasion when in the presence of one of these great machines.
This 1948 Town & Country convertible comes to us from the collection of a long-time friend and client. Amazingly, this car has been in the possession of just two families since new. It was originally purchased in Sacramento, California by Charles L. and Betty Miller. It was delivered in Catalina Tan (Ditzler Code DQE20006), a very rare and attractive promotional color that was just for California dealers. Mr. Miller drove the car very little yet took meticulous care of it. Sometime in the mid-1950s, the couple moved to Arlington, Virginia and eventually had the Chrysler brought across the country for them. In Arlington, it saw even less use, as the elderly man was not allowed to drive it on the road. He only pulled the car out of his garage on occasion to carefully wipe it down with a damp chamois.
The car’s most recent owner grew up in Arlington, and had spotted the Chrysler in the Miller’s driveway on rare occasions and wondered about it. Word soon came from a family member that Mr. Miller would sell the car if it went to a good home. Our client’s father purchased the car in or around 1960, and it remained in their family until 2015 when it was acquired by Hyman Ltd. For all those years, it was treated the same way Mr. Miller treated it – never washing it with a hose, always carefully wiping it down, and never leaving it out overnight. In fact, we are told it only spent one full night outside in the last 67 years – when the family was in Indianapolis for the Indy 500.
The results of that care are evident today. It remains exceptionally original, save for one repaint in the correct color and a replacement convertible top. It is otherwise an incredibly well-preserved, straight, and sound Town & Country, showing just over 92,000 miles from new. The original wood is in excellent condition, the power top operates smoothly, and the maroon leather/tan cloth interior is completely intact with an absolutely wonderful patina. As this was a top-line car, it is well equipped with a factory clock, radio, heater and spot lamp. The Catalina tan paint displays a warm luster and looks wonderful in contrast with the wood and maroon upholstery and interior accents. Wide-whitewalls and full wheel covers round out the handsome looks. The engine compartment is tidy and well-presented, showing signs of proper maintenance. Correct and clean, it is wonderfully original and has not been restored because it has never needed it.
We feel this is the sort of automobile that will be best respected if it is preserved as-is, with minimal cosmetic freshening. Only a minor effort would be needed to bring it up to truly spectacular standards. The 1941-1948 Town & Country has been recently allowed CCCA Full Classic status, making it eligible for their tours and events. With a wonderful history that comes from a trusted friend and client, this car’s legacy deserves the same loving care as its first two owners lavished upon it.