Cheap Woodie Project: 1947 Chrysler Town And Country

A few years ago, this would have been the buy of the century. It’s a restorable 1947 Chrysler Town and Country sedan for sale here on eBay in Farmingdale, New York (that’s on Long Island) for a Buy-It-Now price of $4,145.85.

This chart shows a fairly precipitous decline in the value of the similar 1948 Town and Country, with 2009 being the peak. Still, one of these in excellent condition is still (sellers hope) a $100,000 vehicle, though convertibles and wagons are more likely to reach that figure. Here’s a ’47 sedan with a $100,000 asking price, though it’s a near-perfect example that took third place at the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance in 2018.

The Long Island example is, to put it mildly, not Concours quality. It’s a complete mess, and most of the wood—not to mention the doors—has gone missing.

When the vendor says there is a “flathead six rebuilt engine inside,” does that mean inside the car, or in the engine bay? There’s no photo of the motor. It’s not clear if the Fluid Drive transmission or the rest of the driveline is on board, either. The wood in these hand-built sedans, offered from 1946 to 1948, was structural and complex. The ’47 and ’48 offered minor detail updates from ’46, and the sedans were only available on the six-cylinder Windsor platform. The more valuable convertibles were upscale, built on the eight-cylinder New Yorker.

The ad says at one point that it’s a ’49 Special Deluxe but you can ignore that.  The good points of this car are a fairly decent interior (the seats were redone, apparently in vinyl, during the ’90s), that rebuilt mill (no word on whether it’s original to the car), and not a lot of visible rust, though it’s certain to lurk in hidden recesses. The dash looks complete albeit with surface rust. The whole front of the car is nice, with all the irreplaceable chrome in place, badges present, and no tinworm. The front and rear glass is in place.

The problem is that this is exactly the kind of car you can get seriously upside down on. The sales price is seductive, but the restoration bills, ouch! “Will need lots of help to get it going again,” the seller says, in a bout of honesty. Help, and money.

You’re going to have to source four doors, which are likely to be unique to the scarce Town and Country models. You’ll need a master carpenter to do the extensive wood structure from scratch. It’s nice that the seats were upholstered, but these models had incredibly cool upholstery—including two-tone leather and Scottish tartan. Are you going to rebuild this to a high standard and leave the cheap vinyl in place?

Someone experienced is going to have to go at that fancy dash, and the floors probably need replacing, too. Just a guess! Frankly, if this was a convertible, like this ’49 example from the last year, it might be worth serious investment. It reached a deserved $114,000 at a Bonhams Goodwood sale in 2019. On the other hand, if you look at the Long Island car as a parts bin, you might end up in positive territory. What do you think should be done with this carcass?

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Comments

  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    This would be an awesome project. I’d take the opportunity to custom the wood work into a 2 door coupe. I’d love to have this car, I could use all my skills and tools on this one. I’d rebuild it in cedar a great looking wood that is very resistant to rot. A cedar fence post can last up to 30 years in the ground depending on where you live. I’ve given a lot of consideration into the idea of turning my 1951 dodge Mayfair hard top into a woody it might still happen because it would be so much fun to build. Great car.

    Like 4
  2. Weasel

    Great write-up Jim. Love the vinyl.

    Like 1
  3. Dave

    Mmmm! Toimites! ( slaps face with palms of hands)

    Like 1
  4. CCFisher

    So someone used it as a parts car, but never scrapped it, and now he’s trying to sell the carcass as if it were still valuable. Is anyone aware of patterns that can be used to recreate the missing parts? If not, a stock restoration is nearly impossible. You’d be lucky to find a set of doors complete enough to use as patterns, and then you’re back to a lot of expensive custom work to build new doors.

    I’m liking scanadainmarkseh’s idea – with as much custom work as a stock restoration would require, someone skilled with both metal and wood could make an intriguing custom out of this. Chrysler did build a handful of hardtops, after all.

    Like 3
  5. Ken Carney

    Unless you’re a gazillionaire, you might wanna pass on this one
    boys and girls. Good parts car, yes. Too far gone, most definitely. The only way I see this car being saved is to let either
    Jay Leno or the gang at ICON restoration have a crack at it. Best way to solve the wood problem with this car would be to 3D print the entire wooden superstructure of the car. Sound a bit extreme? Of course it does but at least that’ll go a long way
    towards getting this old gal back on the road again. If you love
    jigsaw puzz!es, then here’s a real beaut for you…something on
    the order of a Puzz 3D that you could really use when finished.
    Best part is: no stinkin’ tormites man!

    Like 2
  6. Joe Haska

    Do CHEAP and WOODY PROJECT, really belong in the same sentance?

    Like 6
  7. Bob McK Member

    Buff out the paint and drive it… Talk about an open car.

  8. Tom Bell

    We had another T&C from Long Island here a while ago, complete but needing restoration. I wonder if this was the organ donor for that car.

  9. Kenn

    Both the skill and tools needed to restore this disaster would be extremely difficult to find, and that’s just the wood portion. Add the doors and you’re certain to be upside down at anything but a concourse – priced sale. Not counting the labor cost. Nor considering what else could have been accomplished with the same amount of money and labor. What a shame this mess was so thoughtlessly left to deteriorate.

  10. Benjy58

    HEY, lets have a bonfire, Wait not enough wood.

  11. canadainmarkseh Member

    Sounds to me like most of you haven’t done any wood working in your lives. Is it a big project? Yes it is, but a gear head with some wood skills could pull this off. If I could afford this car and the cost to bring it home I’d be very tempted to buy it. I don’t have room for it either, besides I have the perfect car to make a phantom woody. I think my above post is the way to go with this car. You know guys this is a good project to learn some skills on. Are any of you up to that? A Home Depot level bandsaw, tablesaw, thickness planner, and a rotor will get you started.

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