Tuesday, April 1, 2014
1941 Chrysler Windsor
Chrysler automobiles were plentiful in Sioux City, Iowa, in the 1950's and 1960's where Maurice Levich grew up, however his family did not own one. But that all changed for Levich in 1972 during one fateful dinner in Fresno, Calif.
Levich was a sophomore student at Fresno State University in 1972. As a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity member he was attending a dinner with alumnus of the fraternity.
During the meal, one of the fraternity veterans inquired if any of the current students might be interested in buying a very large old Chrysler sedan. Levich leapt at the chance.
The alumnus had purchased the Chrysler Windsor in Los Angeles for his wife on June 1, 1947. The car had received regular maintenance until the wife’s death in 1958. After that date the car was parked in a garage until Levich agreed to buy it. Levich paid $600 for the 1947 Chrysler.
He recalls, “The 7.60×15-inch tires were flat. We towed the 3,528-pound dusty car to a nearby gas station and raised it on a rack where we found it to be truly original,” Levich reports.
Fortunately, the owner of the car agreed to foot the $390 bill for four new Firestone tires. “It simply needed belts, hoses, oil and a lube job,” Levich says. He also had to tend to the 6-volt battery that was dangling by the cables.
Squirting oil down each cylinder before hand-turning the crankshaft ensured the engine was mechanically sound. After towing the Chrysler to the fraternity house, Levich says, “I poured a small vial of gasoline down the single throat carburetor and hurried to the driver’s seat to push the starter button.”
The 250.6-cubic-inch, inline six-cylinder engine came to life, ready to once again deliver 114 horsepower.
“The radio had been left on when the car was parked [in 1958] and the tubes were now just warming up, still turned to the local Fresno station. The first song to come out of the radio was Glenn Miller’s `In The Mood.’ What was the probability of that?” Levich asks.
Later, when Levich transferred to San Diego State University, he had no qualms about making the trip in his 17-foot, 6.8-inch-long, six-passenger sedan outfitted with clam shell doors. His car stands 67.5 inches tall and is 77.8 inches wide, which makes for an exceptionally comfortable interior.
With his college days in the past, Levich has turned his efforts toward preserving the car that he has owned for 37 years. The Chrysler is equipped with an exterior Fulton sunvisor, a pair of fog lights and rear window Venetian blinds. New paint in the original color was resprayed in 1982. All of the bright work was replated at that time. All of the glass remains original.
The massive front bumper features a trio of vertical bumper guards while the rear bumper has only two. Once Levich had removed the seat covers he discovered beautifully preserved dark forest green mohair upholstery. When new the car was equipped with a $73.50 AM radio and a $58.75 heater. The Venetian blinds and Fulton visor were dealer-installed extras.
During the late 1940s Chrysler was more interested in manufacturing comfort than performance. The big car can be turned in a 42.6-foot circle. “Without power steering,” Levich says, “you can develop big biceps.”
The 1947 sedan has a shoulder-wide steering wheel that takes 4.5 turns. Fuel from the 17-gallon gasoline tank feeds the six-cylinder engine. Five quarts of oil, including one for the filter, keep the engine well lubricated.
The fluid drive transmission is a challenge for the uninitiated, but Levich has no problem with that, saying that since he bought the car his wife and daughter are the only other people to have taken the helm. When Levich bought his 1947 Chrysler the odometer had registered only 82,000 miles. Since then he has added only 6,000 miles to the total.
On the rare occasion that he exercises his Chrysler — he considers it rolling metal artwork — Levich keeps two important things in mind. The first is the need to stay in the right traffic lane and the second is to remember that when new his car had the “Tail Light Warranty.” As long as the dealer could see the tail light, Levich says, it was warranted.