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The Airflow Chrysler

Chrysler introduced the Airflow at the New York Auto show early in 1934 to enthusiastic response. The first year models included four models:

  • Chrysler Airflow Series CU -- Eight

  • Imperial Airflow Series CV -- Eight

  • Custom Imperial Series CX -- Eight

  • Custom Imperial Series CW -- Eight

All featured the new ultra-streamlined Airflow design with all-steel body construction, passenger seating between the axles, engine mounted over the front axles, recessed headlights and a host of other innovative features. The new Airflow bodies were wider at the cowl and provided seating for three passengers in the front of the cabin. Various bodies were offered; the four-door Sedan sold best, but there were also two-door 5-passenger Coupes, six-passenger Broughams and Town Sedans offered. No convertible Airflows. As with DeSoto, Broughams resembled Coupes, but had external spare tires, a flatter, longer roof, and longer rear seat leg room. Town Sedans had the rear quarter window deleted but were otherwise similar to Sedans. 

Chrysler hedged their Airflow bet by staying in the low-price field also, offering the 1934 Chrysler Six. This turned out to be a smart move, as the Six outsold the Airflow Eights by a wide margin.

For 1935, the Chrysler Airflow got a literal face-lift with a new, prow-like radiator grille. The waterfall style of the 1934 cars, although appreciated today, was not popular. In fact, dealers were offered a conversion kit for 1934 models to add the new grille. The three or four-bar bumpers featured on the first models were dropped in favor of less elegant but possibly more robust bumpers of a conventional design. The four models were continued, with three receiving new names:

  • Chrysler Airflow Series C1 -- Eight

  • Imperial Airflow Series C2 -- Eight

  • Custom Imperial Series C3 -- Eight

  • Custom Imperial Series CW -- Eight

The Town Sedan and Brougham were dropped. The Coupes were rated as six-passenger, except for the two-passenger Business Coupe 

The dual offerings of 1934 were continued with new Airstream models, the C6 Six and a new eight-cylinder model called CZ.


The 1936 Chrysler Airflows were again rechristened, now as

  • Chrysler Airflow Series C9 -- Eight

  • Imperial Airflow Series C10 -- Eight

  • Custom Imperial Series C11 -- Eight

  • Custom Imperial Series CW -- Eight

The design was by now very refined. A new, external trunk was added to the sedans allowing, for the first time, access from outside the car. (Previously, trunk access was from the inside of the car after raising and propping up the rear seat back. The fabric and wood-bow top panel of the 1934 and 1935 models was replaced with a bolt-in steel panel. 

By 1936 Chrysler had decided to shift focus to the Airstream models and to discontinue the more expensive, less popular Airflow. The medium (128-inch) wheelbase Airflow Series C17 was nearly identical to the 1936 C10 Imperial except for some styling differences, but the 1937 Chrysler Imperial was not the C17 Airflow. Instead, the C14 Eight was designated the Imperial model, probably to permit Chrysler to drop the Airflow after the 1937 model year without breaking the continuity of the Imperial line. The C17 had a repartitioned grill and hood. Previous Airflow Chryslers had the grill integral with the hood. For the 1936 models, the die-cast grill made the hood rather heavy to lift. The C17 grill was attached to the front body panels, and just the hood lifted. The grill itself was quite similar to that on the other 1937 Chrysler models, and by then, the non-Airflow Chryslers had incorporated many of the groundbreaking features introduced in 1934. Chrysler dropped the Airstream label for 1937 -- the new cars were Chrysler Royal Series C16 Six and the Imperial line:

  • Chrysler Royal Series C16 Six

  • Imperial Series C14 Eight

  • Custom Imperial Series C15 Eight

  • Chrysler Airflow Series C17 Eight

  • Custom Imperial Series CW Eight

The latter was actually an Airflow -- same as earlier CWs, updated with the C17 front appearance, but retaining (as with all CW models) the four-bar bumpers​. Only three were produced that year. The Airflow C17 was offered in just two bodies, the Six-passenger Coupe and the Sedan.


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