May 24 2013

Chrysler’s Chrysler Chronicle III: An Amazing Discovery

Historian and coachwork specialist Walt Gosden has been providing reports on the restoration of the 1937 Chrysler's Chrysler at Steve Babinsky's Automotive Restorations, Inc. in Lebanon, New Jersey. The third article highlights an amazing discovery about the car- a one-of-one 1937 Chrysler Imperial C-15 Town Car custom built by LeBaron for Della Chrysler, the wife of Walter P. Chrysler.

Honor and Thank Our Veterans,

Howard Kroplick

It was a great day at the Wounded Warrior Car Show in Riverhead on Sunday. Smiles and thumbs up will be posted later in the week.


Chrysler's Chrysler Chronicle III: An Amazing Discovery

By Walter Gosden

The restoration of the structural integrity of the coachwork continues. Weak wood framework in the rear doors and lower body in the trunk area is currently being restored. The four doors are the prime focus of the wood and metal workers. They all need to fit, open, close, and latch perfectly before any cosmetic refinishing will take place.

The gap around the entire door needs to be equal and even as possible. From decades of neglect all four doors did not fit properly. The doors like the body are framed in ash wood. Along the edges of the lower part of the door a metal plate about two inches was screwed in place and over lapped the edge of the wood framework. The sheet metal door skin was then fitted over this and the edge of the skin wrapped around the metal plate to hold it in place.

In order to repair the wood framework the metal skin had to be removed, the plate unscrewed and after new wood was fitted, the process reversed. The edge that was wrapped around age hardens and when pealed back develops cracks, all of which have to be welded to be repaired.

To date both front doors have been restored and rehung in place. The front and rear doors on the right side, now back in place, latch and fit perfectly for the first time in over 50 years.

As this process was taking place an interesting "secret feature" was discovered that could only be revealed and repaired to function once all the upholstery was removed. Check out this one-minute video.

With the doors on the right side now in alignment extra latches were discovered in both the doors and B pillar of the body. These looked like small version of the dead bolts you see in house doors. but were in fact part of a special feature.  If the doors are in the shut position, and the rear door glass was left rolled down, you wouldn't have to open the rear door to roll the window up and then close it again. A completely mechanical mechanism that is powered by two large springs located inside the door just below the window crank are connected to the latches just mentioned by cables. The cables also run through a steel tube across the car to the other side along the floor below the division window in the chauffeur's compartment.

When you push down on the exterior front door handle it will open that door as expected,  but if you lift up on it , this pushes on a latch into the B pillar which pushes another latch into the rear closed rear door that triggers the cable/spring mechanism to allow the rear door glass to raise "automatically" to close the window! .

That piece of glass goes up very rapidly and startles you when you first see it fly up and close. It is almost like a guillotine ascending rather than descending.

Steve Babinsky the owner of the shop mentioned it took a bit to sort this out as they didn't know what the function of the springs, cables etc. were. With the doors now in proper alignment this long lost mechanical power window system now functions as new. Neither Steve nor I have seen anything even remotely like this unique feature in any pre-war car domestic or European.  I would venture to guess that this was designed in late 1936 early 1937 while the custom body was being made. To my knowledge, no other car of the era built by LeBaron or any other coachbuilder was ever equipped with this mechanical automatic window system.

The trunk lid has been removed and stripped to bare metal.

The ribbed steel floor pan starts at the front of the rear wheel arches and continues to nearly the end of the back of the trunk area.Note in the 3/4 rear view of the passenger side of the body how the chassis/frame ends (the tail pipe is just below) but yet the body extends beyond by at least another 15 + inches. This whole tail section of the body is also framed out in ash wood. 

New wood at the very end of the body has been cut and formed to replace the badly deteriorated wood there that suffered from water damage.


This new wood with its compound curves replicates the original exactly.


It is an automotive coachwork historian's dream to be able to follow this project along and be there first hand to see the restoration, how the car was built, and the unique features. It makes me have a renewed respect for the craftsman that built this car. Thanks for having me along on this journey of the 1937 Chrysler's Chrysler since day one.




Steve Babinsky proudly features the 1937 Chrysler's Chrysler in an ad for his company.




May 25 2013 R Troy 11:39 PM

It sure is a fascinating car!  Though I wonder if Walter considered the window feature for his higher end cars!


May 26 2013 Larry Trepel 2:12 AM

Amazing.  Both that Chrysler designed it, and Babinsky and Co. figured out what it was for and how to fix it.

May 26 2013 Howard Kroplick 8:14 AM

From Bruce K:

That is a very neat feature with the door handle!

May 26 2013 Phil Benincasa 10:26 AM

Keep the updates coming I think they are great and am really enjoying the progress of the restoration.

May 26 2013 Lou K 11:43 AM

Wow, I love surprises….. That is a unique feature !!!

May 26 2013 frank femenias 1:02 PM

That was a surprising guillotine feature. Never seen it before. I wouldn’t want to get my fingers caught there, or the dogs head gazing towards the wind. I’m thinking since both sides were not working, that may have been intentional for safety reasons. Also amazing work going on in that shop. Difficult work too as parts sometimes aren’t available to replace existing ones and you’d have to create your own, all while trying to keep the car in its original state. Blunt work and tedious detail work in harmony. I’m curious what other surprises will pop up….

May 26 2013 frank femenias 1:05 PM

This may have been the first “power” window?

May 26 2013 Dr. David Kahn 3:51 PM

What is the point of this story?  Why should we care about this car?  That should have been pointed out in your story.

May 26 2013 Howard Kroplick 6:12 PM

David, I added additional background to the opening paragraph. The car is a one-of-one 1937 Chrysler Imperial C-15 Town Car custom built by LeBaron for Della Chrysler, the wife of Walter P. Chrysler. Click on the “See More” links for additional information.

May 26 2013 Howard Kroplick 6:36 PM

Frank, the first “power” window is most often credited to the 1940 Packard 180 introduced in 1939.

According to,  the 1941 Chrysler Crown Imperial limousines included an undetermined amount of LeBaron Custom Town Limousines. Power windows, known as hydro-electric windows, were introduced that year and were first offered as optional equipment on the Crown Imperials.

It is possible that the 1937 Chrysler’s Chrysler was the first automobile ever to have a mechanically automatic window system.

Does anyone know of an earlier car that has this feature?

May 26 2013 Russ 9:05 PM

What an innovative system.  I’ve never heard of anything approaching it’s level of ingenuity.

May 27 2013 Ted 12:22 PM

At this time I want to wish you all a HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY.    Boy is this car getting more and more interesting. You’ve got a really amazing car,it’s more historic than you would ever dream of,it just might be the first to have mechanically automatic window system. Who knows what else they’ll find,you’ll never know untill they find it. It may take longer for you to get it back,but it will be well worth the wait

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