Feb 08 2012

Press Release: Vanderbilt Museum Sells One-of-a Kind 1937 Chrysler

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum has issued this press release on the sale of a unique 1937 Chrysler built for the Chrysler family.


Howard Kroplick

For immediate release     
Contact: Patrick Keeffe    
[email protected]

Vanderbilt Museum Sells One-of-a Kind 1937 Chrysler
Imperial to Collector and Historian Howard Kroplick

Proceeds Will Endow Care and Maintenance of Museum Collections
CENTERPORT, NY (February 7,2012) -- The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum has sold an extremely rare 1937 Chrysler Imperial Town Car commissioned by Walter P. Chrysler for his daughter, Bernice Chrysler Garbisch. Howard Kroplick of East Hills, NY, outbid several interested buyers and purchased the one-of-a-kind vehicle for $275,000 in a process supervised by the Vanderbilt Museum Board of Trustees.


1937 Chrysler Imperial Town Car
in Vanderbilt Mansion courtyard, circa 1986

Professional appraisals ranged up to $307,750 and the museum set the minimum bid at $125,000. The Vanderbilt made a public announcement of the sale in November, advertised the car nationally in Hemmings Motor News and issued a call for sealed bids. Inquiries came in from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Washington State.

The car, donated to the Vanderbilt in 1959, was de-accessioned from the museum's collections in 1992. Proceeds will be used to establish an endowment for the care and maintenance of the museum's historic archives, collections and exhibitions.

Kroplick, chairman emeritus of The Impact Group, a Manhattan-based medical communications company, is an author, classic-car collector and a historian of the Vanderbilt Cup Races. He plans to restore the Chrysler to its original condition.

Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum, said, "Selling this Art Deco gem will enable us to create an endowment fund to preserve and care for the Vanderbilt collections. We're thrilled that Howard Kroplick, a passionate automotive historian and collector, is going to meticulously restore this unique piece of American automobile history."

Kroplick said, "I am very excited about the opportunity to restore this unique one-of-a-kind automobile. I have conducted research at the Vanderbilt Museum during the past nine years and am particularly pleased that the proceeds will help maintain the museum's historic archives and collections."

The sale of the car is a two-decade story. Stephanie Gress, the museum's director of curatorial services, said, "The decision to sell a collection piece is never undertaken lightly. Selling the Chrysler is the culmination of a 20-year project. The Vanderbilt's curator and trustees started the process in 1992 by deaccessioning the car and responsibly deferring the sale until a later date. Our current board and curatorial staff brought the disposition of this museum object to its logical conclusion."

Kroplick, 62, was recently named town historian for North Hempstead. His first book, The Vanderbilt Cup Races of Long Island was published in 2008. The Long Island Motor Parkway, with co-author Al Velocci, also was published that year. He has created a popular website, VanderbiltCupRaces.com, which provides comprehensive information on Long Island's racing history and current automotive events.

Kroplick owns a number of classic cars and is president of the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society. The organization is dedicated to preserving the first American road built exclusively for automobiles, by William K. Vanderbilt II and his business associates. Kroplick serves as a trustee of the Roslyn Landmark Society and is a member of the Society of Automotive Historians.
In December 2008, Howard purchased the restored 1909 Alco-6 Black Beast racer that won the 1909 and 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Races and raced in the first Indy 500 race in 1911. In celebration of the centennial of the inaugural Indy 500, the Black Beast participated with six other race cars in a parade lap at last May's Indy race. Emerson Fittipaldi, a two-time Indy 500 winner, drove the car with Kroplick as the passenger.

The Chrysler's History

The 1937 Chrysler Imperial Town Car, a masterpiece of Art Deco automotive design, is made of hand-worked aluminum (no factory-produced body panels were used) and has Garbisch's initials, BCG, inscribed on its rear doors. The 8,000-pound, seven-passenger car is 19 feet long and has a 130-horsepower, eight-cylinder in-line engine and a three-speed manual transmission. The odometer reads 25,501miles. The Chrysler has coachwork by LeBaron, leather interior and upholstered seats.

The car was donated to the museum in December 1959 by Harry Gilbert of Huntington, NY. (In that same year, Gilbert also gave the Vanderbilt the 1909 Reo Gentleman's Roadster, which was restored recently and is now on display at the museum.) The Chrysler, which was on display at the Vanderbilt for an undetermined number of years, was later transported to the Long Island Automotive Museum in Southampton, where it remained until June 1992, when it was returned to the Vanderbilt.

The Board of Trustees voted on November 15, 1992, to deaccession the Chrysler from the museum collection since it was neither original property of the Vanderbilt family, nor relevant to the museum's holdings. In April 1994, after nearly two years at the Vanderbilt Museum, the car was transferred to a Suffolk County garage, where it remained until 2006. The car was then moved back to the museum and has been stored since in a garage on the estate grounds. The condition of the car, which has most of its original parts, has deteriorated because of a lack of environmental control in its various storage environments.

In early 2011, Brandt Rosenbusch, curator at the Chrysler Museum in Detroit, verified that this is the one-of-a-kind automobile built for Bernice Chrysler Garbisch and provided the Vanderbilt with images of the newly fabricated automobile from his museum archives.

The Chrysler has attracted renewed interest and was featured in the July 2011 issue of Hemmings Classic Car magazine in an article by Water Gosden entitled "Custom Chryslers." Gosden is a renowned automobile historian, coachwork expert and widely published author on classic automobiles.

Video Journalist Chris Collora: Vanderbilt one-of-a- kind car for sale:

Photos of "Chrysler's Chrysler" Circa 1937


Feb 09 2012 Ron Ridolph 2:03 AM

Hi Howard:  YOU ARE THE MAN   !!!!!!!Just cannot wait to see this on the road
again and please and when will you take and accept applications for the driver position ?!?!?!?!?

              May God Bless And Keep You for EVER and EVER !!!!!!

          Cheers and Best Wishes Always !!!    Ron Ridolph

Feb 09 2012 tom 8:45 AM

Awesome, congratulations Howard. What a terrific acquisition! Look forward to seeing this special car in person some day. If you need any help in the restoration please let me know. We here at Unique Performance inc can help with this project.

Feb 09 2012 Guy Magana 1:49 PM

Hi Howard,
We met briefly on Monday evening at the Indianapolis Int’l airport. I was the volunteer you spoke with. You gave me and a coworker your card. Being somewhat of an enthusiast, I looked up your website and found this article. Congratulations on a very unique and storied acquisition!!  Perhaps there will be an opportunity to show it on parade at the track someday ala the Black Beast. If you ever need someone on the ground in Indy to run something down, I would be happy to oblige. Feel free to send an email any time.

Feb 09 2012 Howard Kroplick 9:35 PM

Thanks so much for the congrats! it will be a fun project.

Guy, congratulations to everyone in Indy for their hospitality. ...What a game!!!


Feb 12 2012 Josep DeLucia 7:37 AM

I am delighted to see that the car will remain in Long Island. If anyone were to get this car, then it should have been you.

Feb 12 2012 Walt Gosden 8:34 AM

This fine car will now be restored and preserved after decades of severe neglect. My sincere personal thanks for stepping up and becoming the new ‘caretaker’ of this fine piece of automotive rolling sculpture. I know it has been a long road for you to pursue this car and took a lot of patience, but now that car could not have found a better home. All my best.

Feb 12 2012 Michael Mccabe 10:35 AM

Hi Howard,

Congratulations on your purchase of the Chrysler Town Car. This is going to look great when restored to its original condition. I hope to do a painting of this car in the future. It is beautiful!

Feb 12 2012 Michael Lindgren 11:59 AM

You finally found the perfect tow vehicle for “The Black Beast”. An inspired choice by a dedicated automotive enthusiast. Best of luck.

Feb 12 2012 Maria Hansson 2:06 PM

Wow Howard! I am so excited to see you bought it. I saw it as is and can’t wait to see how well you will restore it to it’s glory!

Feb 12 2012 Roger Price 3:43 PM

Mazel Tov on your purchase of that terrific Chrysler.  Knowing you, I’m sure that the car will get the restoration it deserves.  I couldn’t think of anyone who is more deserving of this auto.
I can’t wait to see it.
Roger Price

Feb 12 2012 Howard Kroplick 5:50 PM

From JeRita:

“Howard there is no one better qualified than you to get this great car. I know you will restore her to glory again and best of all drive her and share with others. Please keep us posted on her progress. CONGRATULATIONS”

Feb 12 2012 Billy Horner 7:59 PM

a very beautiful and unique automobile. Can’t wait to see completed photos of the restored car.

Feb 13 2012 Howard Kroplick 10:58 PM

From Art:

“Congratulations on the great purchase of the Chrysler.  Hope your garage has the room!  Does the car come with the license plate shown in the photos or any others?  I’m so glad someone with your integrity and commitment got it.”

Feb 16 2012 Jay Corn 5:42 PM

    Congratulations!  Hope to see this Beauty at the Great Neck Plaza Autofest next to the Alco.  Walter P. Chrysler’s Estate just happens to be down the road in Kings Point.  It is now the Merchant Marine Academy.  This year’s Autofest is September 23rd…NO PRESSURE.
    Best of luck,  Jay

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