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.
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Chrysler Airflow Economy Run
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.
Hot Rod Magazine Founder -- Robert Petersen
In the late 1940s young guys returning from the War turned their love of
speed into the sport of drag racing and launched an industry that generates
over $30-billion today. At the center of this speed crazed storm was
Robert Petersen who captured the excitement and promoted the growth of this
budding phenomenon through his Hot Rod Magazine.
Kaiser -- Cars That Challenged Detroit
When auto production started up after the cessation of World War II
hostilities, major manufacturers simply picked up where they left off after
Pearl Harbor introducing 1942 lines as 46s. Nobody was fooled but it didnt
matter as demand far outstripped supply. Henry J. Kaiser, steel and ship
building magnate, entered the fray with an advantage: a clean slate.
Kaisers were truly all new when introduced as 47s and sales soared: Kaiser
(with sister marque Frazer) outsold such established names as Studebaker,
Nash, Hudson, Mercury and Chrysler.
Today, Kaisers are rarely seen and thats part of their appeal. Kaiser is a
remnant of a time when it seemed that, having vanquished that eras Axis of
Evil, Americans could do anything, including start a car company from