1928 Chrysler Series 80L LeBaron
2dr Town Coupe
6-cyl. 309.3cid/100hp 1bbl
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By 1928 the Roaring 20s were nearly over and the bubble was about to burst. Chrysler sold 160,070 vehicles – good for seventh place – but would not reach that number again until 1950. The 1928 Chrysler lineup offered four series of cars again, but there were significant changes.
The 4-cylinder Series 50 became the Series 52, bumping the wheelbase back to 109 inches. The engine was redesigned while remaining 170 cubic inches. It was the last four-cylinder Chrysler until 1984 and gained 4-wheel hydraulic brakes in March. Chrysler offered seven Series 52 models in 2- and 4-door configurations. Prices were slashed with the lowest priced models costing just $670 and the Deluxe Sedan topping the line at $790. A total of 76,857 1928 Chrysler Series 52s were sold.
The 1928 Series 62 cars were an update of the last year’s 60 series with the same 109-inch wheelbase and 180 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine. There were seven models, four 2-doors and three 4-doors. Production totaled 64,136 and prices were cut again, ranging from $1065 for the Business Coupe to $1235 for the Landau Sedan. Bumpers were an accessory and two-tone paint cost extra. Touring cars were starting to fall out of favor and production dropped sharply.
The 1928 Chrysler Series 72 cars gave buyers a look at some new trends. The body was redesigned with a higher radiator, and oblong instrument panel with a gas gauge, thinner steering wheel and a new chassis with a longer 120.5-inch wheelbase. Custom and Special chassis were 127 inches and 133 inches long. A new six-cylinder engine generated 75 bhp and displaced 249 cubic inches. The model moved up-market, offering a 2/4 passenger Cabriolet with windup windows and fixed windshield, and even a chauffeur-driven 5-passenger Town Cabriolet by LeBaron.
A total of 10 different body styles were offered in the 1928 Chrysler Series 72, split evenly between 2-door and 4-door options. Wire wheels and side-mounted spares were optional. Though the Series 72 was a new design, prices were cut from the preceding 70 Series and ranged from $1495 for the Roadster to $3595 for the LeBaron Town Cabriolet, of which there were only 36. Total production for the Series 72 was 15,554.
Chrysler’s big news – literally – for 1928 was the new Chrysler 80L Series – with L meaning long. With a wheelbase of 136 inches the series had a new 100-hp 309 cubic-inch engine. The “Red Head” high-performance engine generated 112 bhp and delivered 100 mph. The 1927 Series 80 models were built through October 1927 when they were superseded.
Five basic 80L Imperials included a 2/4 passenger Roadster, and 4-door 5-passenger Sedan and Town Sedan. The remaining two models were a 7-passenger Sedan and Limousine. Chrysler Bodied 1962 Imperials, while coachbuilders delivered 161 more. Chrysler-bodied Imperials cost from $2795 for the Roadster to $3495 for the 7-passenger Limousine.
A further 10 body styles were offered by selected coachbuilders in small numbers: LeBaron built three 2-door models and three 4-door designs. Dietrich offered three 4-door designs. Locke also bodied 21 unusual Touralette 2-door Phaetons with a basketweave design with a leather covered trunk. There was also one Derham Convertible Sedan. Coachbuilt Imperials cost from $3995-$6485 (LeBaron); $5795-6795 (Dietrich); and $4485 (Locke).
Chrysler entered four Series 72 roadsters at the 1928 Le Mans 24 Hours as Bentley tightened its grip on the event, winning for the third time. Woolf Barnato and Bernie Rubin barely beat Edoard Brisson and Robert Bloch in an American Stutz Blackhawk, but two Chryslers were third and fourth. Two other Chryslers failed to finish but none of them was driven by an American. Two Series 72 cars placed second and third at the 1928 Spa 24-Hour race in Belgium in July.
On July 31 1928 Walter Chrysler bought the Dodge company for $170M (akin to a minnow swallowing a whale, it was said) making his the third biggest car company in the world. The Desoto and Plymouth brands would be launched in 1929, giving Chrysler access to every level of the U.S. auto market.