James C 1941 Chrysler Windsor 4dr Sedan

Driving Miss Daisy

In early July 2009, after being out of the old car hobby for several years, I began searching for one from my birth year, 1939. I could not afford any that I found until I located a 1941 Chrysler Windsor 6-passenger sedan, online. Photos showed decent, but not great paint, but the (original) interior seemed very nice, including the factory original Ivory Dash and Door plastics and the wool broadcloth upholstery. I contacted the owner to discuss the car, which was in Angola, NY, about 45 minutes South of Buffalo. I decided to personally see the car over Father's Day weekend, 2009, while I was in Rochester, NY, about an hour East of there.

The car had one re-paint in the original Newport Blue, which is a very dark Navy. The center door pillar between the suicide doors was masked off and not painted, so the original, factory paint can be seen. The color match to that original paint is truly amazing. The dash plastics, commonly called Bakelite, incorrectly, are still in pristine condition, supporting the estimate that it has been stored most of its life. The upholstery has a small number of moth holes and is beginning to develop a few small splits in the seating surfaces, due to more frequent use, since I have owned it. It is, after all, 73 years old and is remarkably well preserved. It is too good to redo, but I would like to find or have made clear plastic seat covers, to further prolong its life and still show the original.

The car was sold new in Utica, NY, to a woman named Daisy, about whom nothing is known but her name, which has followed the car all the way to 2009. She and/or her estate apparently owned the car about 25 years, and most likely it had been stored during WWII and after. It then passed to two separate owners for short periods before the man whose ad I had seen, who had owned it for 25 years. One of those intermediary owners had tried to move it in a warehouse without checking the brakes, which were non-existent. It rolled into something and caused moderate damage to the front finders, grill and bumper. In addition to repairing the minor accident damage, the last owner had completely rebuilt the engine, which only had about 26,000 miles but had a cracked block. It probably had been stored without anti-freeze and it simply froze. A minor transmission repair had been done and brake job, but the suspension and steering were excellent.

The last owner put 15" wheels and radial tires on it so he and his wife and sons could safely use it for family excursions and car activities. When I received the car by commercial shipper, the Seller had included a host of spare parts, including the original 16" wheels with proper width white wall tires, a couple of which appeared to possibly be original to the car. He had put a vintage, dual carburetor system on it, but furnished me with the original intake manifold, single carburetor and oil-bath air cleaner.

The car has been very dependable and is quite comfortable to drive, especially on the highway. It is most comfortable at about 60 mph, but on one occasion, I drove it about 75 mph for a few miles on a road trip. It never fails to get smiles and waves, not that that is the point, for me. I just like the feeling of a machine that tells me in a tactile way what is going on. I can hear the engine, feel the road, sense what the transmission is doing.

Daisy has her own presence in my circle of friends, all of whom refer to her by name. She's a grand old gal and, hopefully, I can be a good steward and turn her over to someone else who will love and protect her for future generations.

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