Mar 04 2014

Chrysler’s Chrysler Chronicle VIII: New Paint, Many Pieces

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 eighth Chrysler's Chrysler Chronicle article highlights the progress made over the last two months at Steve's shop.


Howard Kroplick

Chrysler's Chrysler Chronicle VIII: New Paint and Many Pieces

By Walter Gosden

The past two months have seen significant progress in a variety of areas of the restoration of Chrysler's Chrysler.

Walt, Howard and Steve and Chrysler's Chrysler in the spray booth.

Left to right, CCCA member Jim Pearsall, Mike of Automotive Restorations, & Walter Gosden. Note the level of the shine on the chassis.

The body and doors are in final paint color , and look wonderful. When the paint hardens up a bit it will be wet sanded and then polished out.

Even the finish on the cowl under the hood is like glass.

The panel that fits above the division window when the hard top is no in place. the original panel has been missing for over 50 years.

This shows the underside of the panel that is being created, the wood in there will come out and is just being used as a form to get the proper curve.

A major accomplishment was to get all the wiring for the body completed. There are several companies that specialize in making and selling complete wiring harnesses for vintage cars, all color coded and tagged for relatively easy installation. Because this is a "one of one" body style every wire had to be removed one at a time, new wire cut to fit and then reinstalled . There are a tremendous amount of relays, switches, solenoids, lamp sockets etc. to get power to, and each one also had to have a separate ground wire to go from the particular unit to the chassis. The body is wood framed with a metal skin so there is no way to run a ground wire to that.

Most of the time the ground wires had to snake their way under and around the body for a good distance.  A very tedious  and time consuming job. All the new wire needed to be installed before the color coat of paint was applied to the coachwork to avoid any scratches. Even the removable panel over the chauffeur has a done light that has a connect socket to get power to it once in place. You will never see the wire once the car is finished but it was one of the major areas of restoration that took a lot of patience to see correctly replace ed and then tested to make sure it function 100%.

The stripped down rear interior.

The top view of the front suspension shows the leather boots that seal around the ends of the suspension that the grease fittings fit through . The boots were all recreated and stitched just like the original ones.

The restored rear axle/differential is ready to be reinstalled.

The C-15 Chrysler Imperial was the longest chassis offered but it still wasn't long enough to accommodate this particular cars coachwork, so the chassis was cut and a section added in to make it even longer. The two vertical lines where I am pointing show the weld seams where the piece was added.

Many parts have been painted and a wait final polishing before being reinstalled.

Mike holds the front seat heater housing, in itself a great example of art deco design.

Many parts are yet to be painted. Here you see the tail lights at left.

The restored radio aerial that mounts under the running board. By 1937 many cars saw the aerial mounted to the cowl next to the windshield but that wasn't done on this car as it would have interrupted the flow of the lines /styling of the car. The under the running board mounting location was common in the 1929 - 34 era.

Shelves of related parts await reinstalling. Most of the small parts have been replated; door latches, door handles, striker plates,and  emergency brake handle in chrome with the dashboard and interior trim in nickel. All plated parts were stripped of old plating then plated in copper to build up worn surfaces and then sanded and ground back to crisp edges that had been rounded off over the decades from wear.

Shown here are the two piece wiper arms at center and top screws (to the right) that hold the metal roof panel above the chauffeur.

Exterior door handles.

Hood ornament - all edges are sharp 90 degree as per new. the lines were re engraved  to jewelry like quality.

Hubcap is a mirror reflecting Howard and me! The lettering has yet to be painted black.

The cushions for the front seats have seen the springs cleaned and each individual spring sewn in a cloth bag before being reinstalled in the frame

The seat cushion backs for the rear seat have been rebuilt, the tan cloth is the final covering.

The bottom cushions for the rear seat were filled with down feathers for comfort and are being restored the same way. One of the cushions had almost no feathers left, and it was determined that a mouse must have absconded with the contents for a nest.

The upholstery panel that fits to the inside of firewall has been recreated. The lower left section is the housing where the steering column fits through. This is made of a composition material and was all broken apart.

The rear seat vanity mirror has the date 8-37 stenciled on the back indicating that this was made in August 1937.

The new 1938 Imperials made their debut in Sept. 1937, so in fact when this car was delivered to the Chrysler family it had the previous year's front end styling.

Behind the mirror was a piece of cardboard used as a pattern for the mirror and seems to have been art from a child's game board - note the pig image in the top right corner. Vintage 1937 Newspaper sheets were found there as well, used to shim out the vanity.


Mar 05 2014 Ted 10:24 PM

This is amazing, incredible, unbelievable and whatever else I can say about the work that has been done. It’s like a big puzzle that has to be put back together with no chance of a mistake at all. Seeing pictures is nothing compared to you seeing and watching all of this work be done each time you go.

Mar 07 2014 Walt Gosden 4:59 PM

Be sure to watch the AmeriCarna tv show on Velocity channel this weekend. It is a double treat as you not only get great L.I. Vanderbilt Cup history but also see the Chrysler under restoration at the shop (keep in mind this was filmed a year ago).

Mar 09 2014 Mitch Kahn 1:30 AM

Cannot wait to see this project completed.

Mar 09 2014 Howard Kroplick 2:41 PM

From Robert R.

Chronicle.  Absolutely spectacular, Howard.

Mar 09 2014 chris H. 4:50 PM

Wayyyy more than COOL !!

Mar 09 2014 Roger Price 7:03 PM

This is incredible!  Also very exciting to see all of the car coming together.
Can’t wait to see the finished car.  Of course, you can’t either.

Mar 09 2014 frank femenias 10:11 PM

Wow! Very nice outcome. The body and doors need to be polished?!? They already look like glass!

Mar 10 2014 R Troy 12:13 AM

Very nice to see it coming together!  Of course, I’m guessing that those of us with cars that could use some of the same are a wee bit envious - however, we’re all learning a lot from this.  Though I am wondering what my Packard 243 will need done for the rewiring I’m told it needs!  grin

Mar 12 2014 Walt Gosden 9:29 PM

For a possible source for the absolute correct new wiring harness for your Packard I suggest Potomac Packard in Clayton, Ga. they supplied one for my 36 Packard model 1401 and I was very pleased with the quality. They use Packard factory drawings to recreate harnesses they sell. they even ran extra wires in the harness for directional signals I hid in the tail lights and fog lights.

Mar 23 2014 Phil 12:55 PM

I wait with great anticipation for each and every update.

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