2022 Shannons Winter Timed Online Auction
Lot
114

1938 Chrysler Airflow CU 'Eight' Sedan (RHD)

$35,000

Melbourne

Sold

Specifications

Engine 299ci in-line eight
Gearbox 3-speed manual/overdrive
Body Work Sedan
Colour Sultana Sand
Interior Tan
Trim Leather
Wheels Steel
Brakes Drums

Description

This lot is no longer available

One of the most revolutionary and influential American cars of the 1930s, Chrysler's Airflow was unveiled at the 1934 New York Auto Show and is regarded as being America’s first mass-produced streamlined car. The Airflow's aerodynamic shape was the result of extensive studies conducted in the wind tunnel by the company's engineers under the direction of Carl Breer, who was charged with developing innovative ideas by Walter P Chrysler. Adopting a 'cab-forward' design, with the engine positioned above the front axle to maximise interior space, the Airflow's construction was equally ingenious, consisting of a steel tube frame with steel panels welded on, an aircraft-inspired technique predating unitary construction by some years. By keeping the car's mass within the wheelbase, the Airflow's passengers enjoyed a superior ride and the interior compartment had far room inside than any of its contemporaries. Other notable design features included a boot accessible from inside the car and flush-mounted headlamps. Described as 'The beauty of nature itself' by Chrysler's marketing gurus, the streamlined Airflow was sold in four different versions in 1934, starting with the CU series, the longer wheelbase Imperial CV and CX, and the limited production Imperial CW, the latter being the largest car yet built by the Chrysler Corporation, with a huge 137.5-inch wheelbase. Powered by a 298.7ci straight eight, the CU Airflow rode on a 123-inch wheelbase and was the most popular model of 1934, with sales totalling 7226 cars. Each year Chrysler's designers watered down the original design in an attempt to increase sales, adopting a more conventional grille in 1935, but ironically the original, most radical design of 1934 is the Airflow most sought after by collectors today. Featured in some of the finest automobile museums and collections around the world and invariably included in any history of automotive design, the Chrysler Airflow may not have been commercially successful but its legacy lives on in the aerodynamic designs that followed.