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Dusty Red Ragtop: 1948 Chrysler Convertible

Doesn’t this look like the quintessential barn find? A stylish 1948 Chrysler Convertible with just the right amount of dust and patina on its faded red paint and tan canvas top. The listing by the seller as a “1948 Chrysler 200” is a bit of a head scratcher (Chrysler didn’t offer a 200 model until 2011), and the seller also states that it’s coming out of a 300-year storage. That’s probably 30 years in storage, but it would be nice to know the basic story behind this old Chrysler and what this drop top was doing prior to 1993. Lots of questions to ask about this one, but here’s what’s stated in the ad: “Was acquired as a solid, complete, unmolested, and presentable driver, despite the need for interior door panels and upholstery. Ran when parked. Motor turns over by hand. Needs new gas tank and some sheet metal repairs in the trunk.” This once-stately 1948 Chrysler (I’m assuming it’s a Windsor) is currently located in Chesterland, Ohio and is for sale here on Facebook Marketplace for $14,500. Another shout out to our pal, Ted, for sending this tip our way.

In addition to skimpy details and description, the photos are limited, too, and not taken in the best lighting. But from what’s provided, the Chrysler appears to be solid and unmolested. About the only thing I spot missing are the two side mirrors on each door and I’m not sure if it has wheel covers. Based on a Google search, Sumac Red seemed to be a popular color for ’48 Chrysler Convertibles and was also the chosen color of their “Convertible Coupe” featured in its sales brochure. It’s hard to tell if that’s the original factory paint or if it’s had a respray. There’s a small dent on the driver’s door and you can also see some rust bubbles along some of the door bottoms. The seller also mentions that sheet metal repair is needed in the trunk but no support photos are provided. All the trim appears to be there, it may have an aftermarket backup light added below the driver’s side taillight, and the glass is dusty but I see no cracks. The massive egg crate grille, bumpers and bumper guards aren’t damaged, but the bumpers are showing some rust. Who knows how old the beige convertible top is, but it isn’t ripped and doesn’t look bad to be 30+ years old.

There are only two photos of a dusty cabin that shows an interior that will need replacing and restoration. The Chrysler’s front seat is showing rips and tears and the one photo of the rear seat area shows a missing upholstery side panel. The brown rear seat looks pretty good under all that dirt and dust and may have been reupholstered at some point. There’s no mention of the condition of the convertible’s frame or how solid the floorboards are (or aren’t).

There’s one dark photo of the Chrysler’s engine bay and it appears to be housing the reliable 250-cubic inch Spitfire Six Cylinder “L Head” which generated 114 horsepower when new. It is paired to a fluid-coupling manual transmission system that was standard on all Chryslers in 1948. The seller says it ran when parked (I’m assuming 30 years ago), and that the motor turns over by hand. It will also need a new gas tank along with the list of the other usual replacement parts needed for a car that has sat sleeping for more than three decades.

So yes, a lot of questions, due dilligence, and inspections would be in order on this one. But if it is solid and has “good bones” as they say, this could be a good candidate for a restoration project. Only 11,200 1948 Windsor drop tops were built 75 years ago, and they probably had a low survival rate. Sure, it will take money to get this red ragtop road worthy again, but based on the photos of restored Sumac Red ’48 Windsor Convertibles I saw online, the end result would be stunning.

Comments

  1. Tbone

    Very cool. Maybe optimistically priced but maybe the market on these is stronger than I imagine

    Like 3
  2. Tiger66

    The script under the radio speaker grille indicates this is a Highlander model with the plaid interior option.

    The back seat is not original, of course, and appears to be from the late ’50s or early ’60s.

    Recent auction prices top out at $40k, with $18k at the low end. In SoCal there’s a restored one for sale right now for $32k so it’s hard to see an upside to restoring one in this condition. There just isn’t much demand for these and the limited market is shrinking by the day.

    Like 11
    • Herbert Holmberg

      Maybe if that was a 48 Ford convertible, more desirable and in demand than a Chrysler.

      Like 1
      • John E. Klintz

        What? An ugly ’48 Ford with ‘ol Henry’s Model T suspension and underdeveloped flathead V-8? Be my guest; if I were interested in this vintage this would be MUCH closer to my choice than ANY Ford of that era.

        Like 3
    • John

      The back seat is from a 1962 Cadillac Series 62 convertible (I have one). So much for the car being “complete” and “unmolested”!

      Like 2
  3. Will Fox

    My folks left their wedding in a `48 New Yorker Town & Country cvt. the same color in 1950!

    Like 5
  4. charlie Member

    Amazing what Chrysler Corp could do sharing components across the 4 lines, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler from the 1941’s to this, the cream of the crop. Front end looked so much bigger than the others, but wasn’t much bigger. Neighbor has one with SBC and Camaro underpinnings in front, tows medium sized Airstream with it, 4 door, an impressive vehicle on the road and to look at.

    Like 2
  5. Ward William

    If that is as good a it looks, redo the interior, refresh the engine, re-chrome the brightwork and give it a good cut and buff and call it done.

    Like 5
  6. Dave K

    How many have looked at this front end and thought of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Could swear Spielberg “borrowed” this one!

    Like 0
  7. Mark A Reynolds

    Trying to rechrome or replace the abundant and badly pitted brighwork could easily equal the asking price for the car. Add incorrect parts (seat), dead upholstery, rust on the drivers rear quarter and the non running status and it is hard to see how you could make this one work for the price asked. You can buy nicely restored ones for about $30K oe so.
    Sad, since these are cool, if leisurely, cruisers.

    Like 0
  8. Mark A Reynolds

    Trying to rechrome or replace the abundant and badly pitted brighwork could easily equal the asking price for the car. Add incorrect parts (seat), dead upholstery, rust on the drivers rear quarter and the non running status and it is hard to see how you could make this one work for the price asked. You can buy nicely restored ones for about $30K oe so.
    Sad, since these are cool, if leisurely, cruisers.
    BTW, that backup lamp is a genuine Mopar accessory from the day.

    Like 0
  9. MICHAEL LLOYD GREGORY Member

    I wish I had the money and time to tackle this. The Highlander interiors were really fun. It’s just a little off topic, but when I was small, we had a ’49 New Yorker, which looked very much like this. I was already a car freak at the age of two or three, and I never knew our car had a brake light above the tag like this car. I was riding in my uncle’s car behind ours one day and flipped out about the brake light. I loved it so much I would have my dad step on the brake pedal while I stood behind the car so I could watch it. Silly childhood memory, but I was very pleased when cars started featuring high-mount brake lights much later. The Toronados and Rivieras that had two of them under the back glass rocked my world.

    Like 2

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