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Chrysler Airflow at Bonneville

Chrysler wanted to demonstrate to the public that its new car, the Airlfow, was fast and fuel efficient. They took it to the Bonneville Salt Flats for some test/publicity runs. Some say that despite their promotional efforts, the future arrived with a thud when Chrysler introduced its line of Airflow coupes and sedans in 1934. The streamlined car, a product of the science of aerodynamics, had long been predicted in works of science fiction but no manufacturer had, heretofore, been bold enough to realize that Buck Rogersesque vision. Chrysler's engineering triumvirate Carl Breer, Owen Skelton and Fred Zeder scientifically tackled the aerodynamic challenge and got Walter P. Chrysler to authorize design testing in a wind tunnel, overseen by no less an authority than Orville Wright. The result was more than just a slippery envelope of a body, a radical departure from virtually all that had gone before. The design of the '34 Chrysler (and DeSoto) Airflow took some getting used to and, sadly, the car buying public just didn't "get" the snubby deco look, a true "cab forward" design dictated by the wind. The look was underpinned by a new kind of construction - the body panels were mounted on a steel cage, not unlike Saturn's, which was structurally connected to the frame creating a single stress-bearing unit, the precursor to unit body construction. Airflow body and frames were wood-free, another departure from tradition. As it became apparent that the public wasn't as enthused as the engineers and the media -- Walter P. Chrysler shared the cover of Time Magazine with his Airflow -- the company scrambled to tone down the radical styling, losing the deco waterfall grill a/k/a "bull nose" by the second year and modifying design elements to hark back to more traditional, consumer-acceptable shapes. Owning an Airflow today is tantamount to having a piece of history to yourself. The significance of this design, even though it was a commercial disaster has reverberated through the decades and into another century. In just about every way, figurative and literal, Chrysler's Airflow was ahead of the curve and remains a true automotive icon for the ages. S068 For Licensing Contact: Global Image Works 65 Beacon Street Haworth, NJ 07641 p. (201) 384-7715 f. (201) 501-8971 email: information@globalimageworks.com


 


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Chrysler engineers thought they had a winner with their aerodynamic coupe the Chrysler Airflow. Created during the art deco, streamlined era of the 1930s the company was convinced that the public was ready for something really new and different. The engineers touted that fact that it was not only stylish but roomy and because its sleek design caused less wind resistance - it was fuel efficient. Unfortunately, the public stayed away from the futuristic vehicle and Chrysler stopped producing the Airflow after two years.





Fashioned by Function - Chrysler Airflow
The development and testing of the revolutionary, streamline designed Chrysler Airflow. The Chrysler Airflow is an automobile produced by the Chrysler Corporation from 1934 to 1937. The Airflow was one of the first full-size American production car to use streamlining as a basis for building a sleeker automobile, one less susceptible to air resistance. Chrysler made a significant effort at a fundamental change in automotive design with the Chrysler Airflow, but it was ultimately a huge commercial failure. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_Airflow S154





1936 Chrysler Airflow 4 door sedan
This is the last year of Airflow production. Economically, it was a disaster for Chrysler. It was introduced in 1934 with almost an electric shaver style grille..sales were abysmal...so to strengthen those, Chrysler made the grilles much more prominent in 35 and 36. This was a giant step for Chrysler, to be more aerodynamic...European cars were doing it also. However, this car appeared to be too much, too soon. It pioneered many features, including a great ride and radio antennae buried in the running boards. To hedge its bets, Chrysler continued during this period offering a more conventional sedan, named the "Airstream"! I think there is evidence that this sales failure had an effect on how conventional styling remained until 1955. They were not going to get burned again by being too far ahead of American tastes!




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