Hidden For 40 Years: 1935 Chrysler Airflow

1935 Chrysler Airflow C1

A Chrysler Airflow has recently popped up on craigslist in Idaho, not far from Barn Finds world headquarters. Said to have been hidden for the last 40 years, the seller claims he knew it was squirreled away in a barn and has finally been able to release it from captivity. It looks reasonably complete and is available here on craigslist with a firm price of $5,950.

airflow2

These Airflows were the subject of some of the world’s most memorable PR stunts at the hands of an automobile manufacturer. Rolled down mountains, intentionally flipped on a dirt track and other shenanigans demonstrated the car’s novel unibody construction. I’d encourage you to check out a YouTube video showing the sideshow-caliber demonstrations the Airflow was endured!

airflow3

This car appears to have straight, solid metal if not particularly attractive at the moment. It’s also missing its headlights and some glass, but perhaps that is included in the sale since the seller says “all the parts are here.” If the interior was exposed to the elements, I can certainly see how it might be in rough shape after four decades of storage. I’ve always thought the spare tire holder and split rear windows were some of the car’s best design features.

airflow4

Personally, I’m always surprised these aren’t worth more. The Airflow was, in my opinion, an attractive design wrapped around some very advanced engineering for the era in which it was built. This car is in far better shape than the last Airflow we featured, and if all the necessary parts are included, this could be the basis of a rewarding restoration project. Plus, who wouldn’t want to hear that straight eight purr once more?

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Comments

  1. Mike R

    Cool. These cars were waaaay ahead of their time, too bad they weren’t more of a commercial success…

    Like 1
    • Mark S Member

      They were not accepted because they were way ahead of there time, most people didn’t take to there styling que’s. I am a fan of pre and post war Chrysler dodge Plymouth desoto cars, and I think this example is fantastic. I even think the price is fair. Un fortunately no room and to far away. I’d love to here that straight 8 run,and IMHO suicide back doors makes having a 4 door all ok.

      Like 1
      • francisco

        Please go back to school, and retake freshman English composition.

  2. Charles

    Like!

  3. Joe Gotts

    The headlamp bezels are really difficult to find.

    Its a kewl looking automobile though.

    JoeyG…

  4. bcavileer

    Love the styling, a lot of it carried through all the late 30’s cars including my ’39 Luxury Liner. I hope the lamps are there, they are hard to find and very expensive to restore. But these cars are very drivable and really get the looks on the road. Just don’t chop and channel this one, too rare and too important historically.

    Like 1
  5. Rex Kahrs Member

    Sunroof?

    • Bill W

      No, no sunroof. No company had a steel stamping press that could handle a full, one piece roof. The 1936-37 Cord sedans had what looks like a one piece steel roof, but was actually seven pieces, welded together and then lead used to produce that smooth, one piece look.

      What companies did before solid roof stampings was use a filler for the large, open roof. Wood was usually used for the perimeter and horizontal support pieces. Some cars used chicken wire on the wood frame for a radio antenna. A large piece of rubberized fabric was laid across the open hole and sealed to keep the weather out.

      GM was first with a one piece roof for 1936 – Turret Top. They had the money to invest in the larger presses for its Fisher Body Division. The rest of the industry followed suit by 1937.

  6. Rick

    Boy,that is the coolest Barn Find to come along in awhile.

    Like 1
  7. Vince Habel

    I never cared for these but they were too far a head at the time for most people. Good find.

  8. Howard A Member

    Quite a find. I’m sure the condition of the rest of the car is consistent with a car stored this long. Going to be a pricey restoration, but it sure would be worth it. As fewer of these surface, clearly, there can’t be that many around. I always thought these were the nicest cars of the 30’s. Too bad not many others did at the time.

    Like 1
  9. rancho bella

    They are soooo good looking. Here comes the but part, restored and many tens of thousands of dollars later……….who is going to buy it?………we all sell, just a matter of when. I, like many, suffer from delusion and cars……….

  10. Duffy

    Great lines, would be interested but to far away. Great fine.

  11. Matt

    Great Find! Beautiful car, and I agree, suicide doors make a 4-door cool.

  12. David Frank David Member

    The Airfows somehow got a reputation for being dangerous when the opposite was true. Most of the cars on the road of the time were still tin over wooden frames which disintegrated upon impact. They are indeed drivable. There was one displayed at the museum that completed the last Peking to Paris rally in 2013. The only modification made was a swap to truck wheels and tires. (Monte Gingery and Phil Putnam finished 17th in class and 30th overall) The Airflow we have on perminant exhibit was driven to Ohio for an event a couple of summers ago. The only modification added was an electric fan added to the radiator. It was driven at highway speeds. How many cars from the time could do that?

    Like 1
  13. charlie Member

    The appearance of the Lincoln Zephyrs of the time was equally “advanced” compared to GM, and the major independents like Nash, Hudson, etc., as was the Cord, but were and still are, to my mind, and the public of the late 30’s, far better looking than the Airflow, although the front end design carried on through the ’50’s in the Divco milk trucks.

    • John Sanderson

      The first Lincoln Zephyrs came out 2 years AFTER the Airflow. Not only was the Airflow better aerodynamically, it changed the architecture of cars ever after. They moved the engine over the axle, & put the people between the axles for a much better ride. This is what all cars became prior to the advent of front wheel drive. It took GM & Ford years to figure this out. 20-20, 80 year old hindsight isn’t really relevant. The Airflow received design awards at the time. The proportions & construction were decades ahead of the competition, but it was not “too advanced”. This car is a direct influence on many cars, including domestics, Simca, Peugeot, Fiats, Tatra, VW, & more. In fact, the ultimate Airflow is the ’34 Desoto coupe. Not the sedan, not the Imperial buses. Chrysler promoted it to the successful families & due to the higher costs, more sedans & Chryslers were sold & survive today. The 35-36 restyle helped sales, but confused the design from the clean waterfall grilles. See Allpar.com for all of the real story!

  14. John b

    Rumored Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche modeled the VW Beetle body styling from the Chrysler Airflow…

  15. John

    I’m in the Airflow club and you can find a much better candidate than this to start with for a few bucks more. It is missing many 1-year-only parts and will cost a fortune to restore. The seller will wait a long time to find a buyer.

  16. OldCarMan

    Then it will make a nice parts car, hot rod, or his price will have to drop.

    it is all too common for a car that is interesting or desirable, to cost more to restore than it will ever be worth. Virtually everything prior to 1932, all of the orphan brands like Star, Durant, etc. and especially the sedans from this era.

  17. charlie

    Why does it have to be all or nothing? I went to the GoodGuys event in Pleasanton CA a couple of weeks ago – they advertised 3000 cars in attendance – not counting the ones in the parking lots – and almost all of them were modified from how they were born and most of them showed well. Not perfect, but nice, and most were drivers, seeing how many cars were there vs. the number of car trailers. And the museum in Reno that has part of the Harrah collection has some street scenes, with cars parked, in “used’ condition. Dull paint, a few dings, a little rust on the chrome. Hollywood movies almost always have pristine cars in the shots, not how life was, or is. There is room for “used” cars in the hobby.

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