1946 Chrysler Windsor
6-cyl. 250.6cid/114hp 1bbl
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Americans in general had saved up quite a bit of money during the Second World War there was not much to buy (but plenty to make), so after peace finally came the American public was more than ready for new cars. The car companies did the only thing they really could do given the fact that they had been literally forbidden from legally working on postwar cars during the war years. No new cars had been produced since early 1942 and the nation had just then come out of a depression.
The civilian vehicle fleet was nearly to the point of breaking point where it would be impossible to recover the economy in a timely way. In fact, in a little known edict, the U.S. Government actually allowed the production of 200,000 cars in 1945, prior to the end of the war in Asia. By the end of the war, the average car on the road was 10 years old. This may not seem too severe in a modern sense, but in this era cars generally were only reliable until they were about three years old, and a car that was five years old was considered a clunker. In fact, many cars were inoperable, or being literally held together with baling wire and a prayer. The tire situation was even more desperate.
In this environment, Chrysler Corporation was able to reestablish automobile production but was not able to do so as quickly as its competitors due to unique circumstances relating to their military contracts. Very few cars were built in 1945, but by 1946 production had ramped up. Chrysler didn’t even keep production records year over year, but simply kept adding from 1946 through early 1949. The Windsor, the series of car above the base Royal but below the Saratoga, New Yorker, Town & Country and Crown Imperial lines, was the top-seller, and the top selling Windsor was the basic four-door sedan.
The Windsor utilized the more economical of the two Chrysler engines, a 250.6 cubic inch L-head inline-six of 114 hp. The cars above it (except for some Town & Country sixes) used a 323.5 cubic inch L-head inline-eight of 135 hp. The smooth fluid-coupling manual transmission system was standard on all Chryslers.
The cars were, for all intents and purposes, 1942 cars with a new grille and a little different trim, but the buying public was more than willing to pay top-dollar for cars overwrought with every possible dealer accessory, inflating the price, in order to obtain a car. People even put their names on waiting lists for cars, something virtually unheard of in the United States. Deliveries were not weeks in coming, but often many months. Many unscrupulous dealers would simply “retail” buy any cars coming into their dealer new, drive them for a few hundred miles, and sell them for 50% more than the legal new-car price as used cars.
The Windsor was a solid choice and well worth the wait. Unfortunately, 1946 was a year of many upheavals including many labor strikes, which added to the already sporadic shortages of parts that plagued all automakers. Prices were also fixed by government fiat, which added to automaker woes since component parts prices, labor, steel, coal and everything else was soaring in price.
All US auto 1946 production exceeded 2.2 million, which was a miracle. Chrysler sold an estimated 83,000 cars, good for eleventh place. 1947 industry production exceeded 3.55 million, with Chrysler building and selling an estimated 119,000 cars which moved the make up to ninth place in the sales race, a feat repeated in 1948 with some 130,000 cars built and sold.