Parked Since ’50: 1934 DeSoto Airflow

1934 DeSoto Airflow

The DeSoto Airflow may be a novel machine now, but when it was new, Chrysler had a hard time selling them. Perhaps the air cutting design was too futuristic for consumers, but it did create a quieter cabin and a unique look. Personally, I think some potential buyers may have been turned off by the fact that this thing looked more European than American. I could be wrong there and many sources online point to the fact that many people thought the car was unsafe. Whatever the reason, finding one of these today in decent shape can be a challenge. This particular Airflow is claimed to have been in an Iowa barn since 1950! Some parts have gone missing, but overall it looks alright. What the heck happened to the windows though? Find it here on eBay where bidding starts at $20k.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Georgia Member

    Amazing cars, and typical of “futuristic” designs of the time like Tatra and the VW beetle!

    GM did a lot of “negative publicity,” asserting that because the steel unit-bodies did not contain wooden framing elements, that the more advanced Chrysler cars were inherently less safe than their Conestoga-era wood-framed cars.

  2. David Frank david Member

    Just like today, absurd rumors take on a life of their own. Despite the fact that it was much safer than other cars, (it was steel bodied instead of metal over a wooden subframe) people believed the rumor that it was not safe. Chrysler rolled one off a cliff and they were able to drive it away afterward. The Airflow was about 20 years ahead of its time because of this and other features.

  3. Ed P

    This car is an example of the thinking that new technology does not work. There are still people that believe a unit body car is a car body with no frame whatsoever. How a frame structure is built into a car body is almost impossible to explain to some folks. At any rate appears to be a very solid example of an Airflow. Fix up the interior and make it safe for now.

  4. garlin

    There’s also appears to be a Jeepster and a TR4 hiding in the background. I also saw onw other car but it’s too dark to tell what it is.

  5. don

    cool car, don’t know if they will get 20k for it.

  6. Bobsmyuncle

    For most people to REALLY appreciate these they need to have a contemporary car sitting beside it. This looked NOTHING like it’s contemporaries and was years ahead of it’s time.

    Fully restored these are quite attractive IMO, and definitely a significant piece of automotive history.

  7. phoneman91

    Predates the VW beetle. (?) I wonder if Porsche saw one of these before designing the beetle?

    Revolutionary design for it’s time. Flowing lines.

    But the space in the trunk of this Airflow shows what can happen when the designers have more influence than common sense.

  8. Greg S

    DeSoto Airflows had early laminate glass. My guess is moisture got in around dry rotted seals and ruined the laminate substrate, turning those windows brown.

    • John D

      Or it may be roofing tar, if it is on the outside. Greg’s answer sounds good to me also. In either case, it is readily available flat laminate, so replacing it is not going to be too tough.

    • Kevin

      I agree. I saw an Airflow at a car lot here in town some years back and the windows had de-laminated EXACTLY like this.

  9. Andrew Minney

    Airflows were assembled at Kew nr London at the Chrysler factory. Don’t think and DeSotos were assembled and very few if any coupes.
    I have done quite a lot of research into the Kew assembled Airflows – if anyone is interested!
    Andrew

  10. cory

    The window Glass has seen a lot of sun. Or heat. Basically the plastic laminate has been baked out of the glass. Looks odd, but not uncommon. Don’t know if this particular car used some unique material in the laminate that caused it to fail so badly

  11. Blindmarc

    I’ve only seen 4 doors in person. This is a great find being a coupe!

  12. JW454

    I like the aftermarket tachometer. I’ve never seen one like that before. Neat car but it will need a new owner with deep pockets to return it to it’s former glory.

  13. Fred

    To really appreciate it, you gotta see it without the dust…

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Looks identical to the one at the Chrysler museum.

  14. Woodie Man

    I have seen a number of these over the years up close. A beautiful example of “Streamline Moderne”, perhaps my favorite American design aesthetic. Norman Bel Geddes was one of the premier designers and propagators of Streamline Moderne as well as the designer of the Airflow. From building to cars to radios, you name it, the rounded curves and elements of chrome used in Streamline Moderne were futuristic and timeless.

    I’m guessing this is quite a price for what is essentially a complete restoration. But who knows.

  15. Jim Marshall

    At first glance I noticed a column shift, but in 1934 even these Airflows had a floor shift. If you look closely you can see the plate over the shift hole.

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