Dec 14 2013

Chrysler’s Chrysler Chronicle VII: Getting Primed For The Finish

Historian and coachwork specialist Walt Gosden continues his reporting on the restoration of the 1937 Chrysler's Chrysler at Steve Babinsky's Automotive Restorations, Inc. in Lebanon, New Jersey. The  seventh Chrysler's Chrysler Chronicle article highlights the significant progress that was made throughout November.




Howard Kroplick

Chrysler's Chrysler Chronicle VII: Getting Primed for the Finish

By Walter Gosden

By mid-November 2013, all four doors had been rehung and checked to fit properly as well as make sure the alignment for the mechanical  power door locks and rear windows had continued to work properly.

All new metal that had been welded in had the surface sanded smooth.

A light coat of primer was applied to all surfaces so a consistent color would allow inspection for any surface irregularities.

Although one rear door post had been replaced due to damage from damp rot the other post seemed stable and could remain. After refitting the doors and checking for even gaps, that original door post was found to be not as strong as was needed and could not hold the door with an even gap over a period of time, so that post had to be recreated/replaced as well.

All four doors have a tremendous amount of weight - several hundred pounds each, due to a combination of the wood framework, sheet metal skin, large glass area, and metal parts for latches, springs, cables, and other hardware that comprise the automatic mechanical system.

Once everything was properly restored and fitted, the doors were removed for further surface finishing.

Spring mechanisms and latches were removed to be restored cosmetically now that they were functioning properly.

Engine components such as the generator and starter  have been restored and are ready to be refitted to the car when the time comes.

At the time the car was completed by LeBaron in 1937 at the Briggs plant (LeBaron was bought by Briggs in 1931) extensive photographs were taken of the completed car.

After the car was delivered the chauffeur found several things about the car that he requested be changed for easier and more comfortable operation.

Outside rear view mirrors were modified to the windshield posts supplied by the  Nil Melior car parts store located in the Waldorf - Astoria Hotel.

The buttons for the intercom to communicate with the rear seat passengers were located at the top center of the front seat. This meant the chauffeur would have to reach back over his right shoulder to push them. This is something a contortionist would have difficulty doing!  The buttons were relocated to the center of the dashboard.

To add ventilation to the car,  a cowl vent was created and fitted to the area just forward of the center of the windshield. This was a major modification and required cutting the back of both halves of the hood as well as the top of the cowl. The Humer - Binder Co. on West 53rd Street did the majority of the repairs, alterations, and repainting for custom built cars in Manhattan since 1919 and was the repair depot for LeBaron before they moved to Detroit. It is most likely that they did this work.  Restoration shop owner Steve Babinsky  is seen here discussing the cowl vent. 

Body craftsman Mike explains to Howard the steps that are being taken to do the job properly

Here we see the inside of the dashboard and where the triangle shaped piece of metal was added to the top of the dashboard. Factory bodied Imperial had one piece flat windshields. Custom built cars like this one from LeBaron (as well as those the Derham Body Co. built) had V windshields with two pieces of glass.

The metal roof insert panel that fits over the chauffeurs compartment is about ready for final prime coat of paint.

A new plate glass panel had to be cut for the rear seat vanity as one of the two was broken .

The intercom system control boxes at the right rear quarter. Steve Babinsky said they measured up the amount of new wire it would take to rewire the body and that the total came to 1,500 feet!

All upholstery materials have been purchased . Bottom row (left to right) shows rear seat, headliner, and door panel cloth, carpet binding, carpet and the fuzzy sample above that is the loose rug that fits over the carpet. Top row shows leather samples for the front compartment and carpet and foot rest (for the rear compartment).

The firewall is essentially the only piece that was used from the production bodied  C-15 Imperial body stampings.

The entire cowl -windshield area is handmade specifically for this particular car as is the rest of the body.

A huge amount of work has been accomplished that is not shown in these photographs. 


Dec 14 2013 Howard Kroplick 8:12 PM

From Ron R.

“Just wonderful, Howard.

What a wonderful story.

FYI,  Humer-Binder repainted my Frazer Nash at one time.  Also fabricated side curtains so that I could drive it to Sebring from NYC in March.  Quite exciting to take the car up in an elevator.

Best Wishes,


Dec 14 2013 R Troy 10:53 PM

If I ever have the money, it would be nice to have a firm like that do some work on my Packard 243!

Thanks for the updates and photos!


Dec 15 2013 Bob Weber 7:42 AM

More! More! This is fascinating stuff, Howard, and we will not complain if you report on progress more often!

Dec 15 2013 KJHarris 9:19 AM

Yes, keep the updates coming.  I enjoy seeing the progress and looking forward to seeing the finished restoration.


Dec 15 2013 George Bartunek 9:38 AM

Howard, Would there be any chance of you giving a presentation to the Peconic Bay Region and the general public re the Chrysler restoration at the SC Historical Soc. some time this year? Your professional presentation last year on the Vanderbilt races was a hit.

Dec 15 2013 Roger Price 10:00 AM

Wow, what an incredible restoration.  I can’t wait to see the car when it’s finished.
You must be very proud.

Dec 15 2013 Phil 10:32 AM


Dec 15 2013 stevel 11:17 AM

Awesome resto. Vanderbilt museum should be ashamed to let it get so bad. What will happen when it’s done? Seems a shame to hide it away in a private collection.

Dec 15 2013 Mike Carroll 11:31 AM

Restoration looks great. It will be a wonderful and exclusive car to drive and show starting with Pebble Beach.  And then hopefully a homecoming at the Vanderbilt Show on Sept. 14th.

Dec 15 2013 Howard Kroplick 4:41 PM

Thanks for the comments. Chrysler’s Chrysler will be in car events throughout Long Island beginning in the fall of 2014.

Dec 16 2013 jim barnes 8:00 AM

The car will once again be the pride of Long Island.
You should do a photo shoot at the former Chrysler Home at Kings Point when it is complete.
Between Steve’s work, Howard’s money and Walt’s journalism you are producing a great story for the car hobby and HISTORY as well.
Congradulations from your friends at Long Island Sound Region of CCCA.


Dec 18 2013 Joseph Indusi 4:13 PM

As the incoming president of the AACA Peconic Bay Region, I second George Bartunek’s request for you to give a talk on this Chrysler and perhaps bring it to our Hallockville Meet in the fall of 2014.  I also enjoyed your talk to our group on the Vanderbilt Races.  We will try our very best to accomodate your schedule to get you to give a presentation on the this car.
Thanks very much for all you do for this hobby.

Dec 20 2013 Ted 2:09 PM

It’s amazing how much work has to be done and the time it takes to do it the right way,but now you are almost at the finish line and will be able to enjoy it and show it off.  Thanks for the latest update.

Feb 23 2014 Ted 12:10 AM

It must be pretty near that time that it will be finished, if it’s not already, and for you to get it back to long island, no rush, but when? soon I hope

Feb 23 2014 Howard Kroplick 12:35 AM

Ted, just visited the car today. There will be an update on the website later this week.

Feb 23 2014 Ted 12:52 AM

Thanks for the very quick response

Mar 02 2014 Ted 1:55 AM

I’m a pest aren’t I? Where’s the update? PLEASE!!! Not just for me, but all the other anxiously waiting ones, but don’t question it.

Mar 02 2014 Howard Kroplick 8:57 AM

Ted, good news! The update will be posted on Wednesday.

Mar 02 2014 Phil 11:03 AM

I wait with others with great anticipation for any tidbit of info about Chrysler’s Chrysler. Hoping to see the finished product.

Mar 02 2014 Ted 11:31 AM

  Thanks from all that are interested in knowing, it’s been a long wait

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