American automobile production came to a halt in February 1942 by order of the federal government. Equipment to fight World War II was needed and the car companies soon started producing war materials.
Before Chrysler shifted its efforts to building anti-aircraft guns, airplane engines, land mine detectors, radar units and tanks, cars for civilians were rolling out of the factories.
During the war-shortened 1942 model year, a total of 7,045 Chrysler New Yorker four-door sedans were built. One such Chrysler was manufactured Oct. 11, 1941 and was delivered to the Rice Brothers dealership five days later in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The original owner, Boyd Bevins, bought the Chrysler for $1,725. For that price he received a semiautomatic four-speed transmission with fluid drive, an eight-tube Philco AM radio, turn signals and a heater. The dealer added two spotlights, two fog lights and a Fulton sunvisor, which boosted the final cost to $1,810.23.
The new owner took his big Chrysler, with the distinctive wraparound grille, home to Atlanta. The car was driven sparingly during the war and in September 1946 with not quite 17,000 miles registered on the odometer, it was parked in a closed stall in a hotel parking garage. There it stayed for the next 43 years until the death of the owner.
In 1989, when the Chrysler was finally pulled out of the garage on four flat tires, it reportedly was coated with an inch of dust, grime and grit. The interior, however, was in pristine condition.
After a quick wash the true beauty of the car was revealed. After a small amount of gasoline was poured into the Stromberg carburetor the 323-cubic-inch straight eight-cylinder engine fired right up. A service sticker on the doorjamb was evidence that the last oil change was performed in 1945. An Asheville, N.C. broker put the car up for sale in 1990. That is when Jim Humlong of Michigan enters the picture.
Humlong says, “I grew up in the back seat of a 1942 Chrysler New Yorker.” His father owned a dove gray Chrysler from 1942 until it was traded for a newer Chrysler in 1949.
Having learned of this low-mileage car Humlong and his wife traveled to inspect in person the unusual antique. They both were impressed and Humlong purchased the 3,873-pound Chrysler in November 1991. The couple returned home to Hamburg Township in Michigan to await delivery of their car.
Humlong recalls that the truck delivering his 18-foot, 1-inch-long car arrived just ahead of a storm on Dec. 23, 1991. “We had just got the car in the garage when the snow came,” Humlong says.
Records indicate that the Chrysler rides on a lengthy 127.5-inch wheelbase supported by 15-inch Goodyear bias-ply tires.
The original wheel covers were missing when delivered to Humlong. A new old stock set was located to give each wheel a finished appearance. In the trunk is the original jack and tools set next to the original spare tire.
The large capacity cooling system was flushed but Humlong explains the heater core under the dashboard developed a leak. The coolant that leaked out damaged the carpeting, which he replaced. The carpet is one of the few non-original items now on the car. The dark blue carpet matches the upholstery, as well as the paint on the exterior.
Both bumpers had lost their luster and were replated with chrome. In order to ensure reliability the brakes were rebuilt. The generator, starter, fuel pump and carburetor also received attention. The 18.5-gallon gasoline tank was cleaned and sealed.
Seated behind the deluxe steering wheel with 144 horsepower at his command, Humlong points out the color-coded speedometer. From a standing start the speed of the car is shown in green. At 45 mph the color changes to a cautionary yellow. Once the speed reaches 60 mph the color becomes a warning of red.
Humlong, a retired automotive consultant engineer, admits that he is very fortunate to have the rare Chrysler. “What a car,” he says. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters