Chrysler LeBaron - 1931–1941

1931–1941

Classic generation
Production 1930s
Assembly Detroit, Michigan, United States
Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States
Class Luxury
Body style 2-door coupe
2-door convertible (roadster)
4-door sedan
4-door convertible
Layout FR layout
Platform Chrysler
Engine 385 cu in (6.3L) Straight-8 125HP ("Imperial 8")
and others
Transmission 3-speed manual
4-speed manual
Related Chrysler
Chrysler Imperial

The LeBarons started in 1930s during the automobile's Classic era and competed directly with the luxury brands of its day such as Lincoln, Cadillac, and Packard.

In the mid-1930s, Chrysler added a radical new "Art Deco" design shape, known as the Airflow Imperials, to the Chrysler line. The high-end CW series were supplied by LeBaron. The design features were considered advanced and perhaps ahead of their time. However, the shape was too radical for buyer's tastes and non-Airflow models outsold Airflows by about 3 to 1.

Raymond Dietrich, co-founder and former stylist at LeBaron, was hired in 1932 to be Chrysler's in-house stylist. Dietrich restyled the Airflow line and Chryslers moved to more mainstream styles. As a result of the poor Airflow sales, Chrysler design actually became quite conservative for the next two decades. Auto manufacturers continued to build up their in-house styling departments and bodyworks, with the result that LeBaron became less important to most of its customers for design ideas and bodies. Toward the late 1930s, LeBaron/Briggs built more bodies for Chrysler and fewer bodies for Ford. Chrysler became their biggest customer, with additional bodies built for Packard, Hudson, and Graham-Paige. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the LeBaron name and division became less important for Briggs, although it remained a division of Briggs until the Chrysler buy-out in 1953.

LeBaron's last projects for Chrysler were two concept cars: the Chrysler Newport, a super-streamlined dual cowl phaeton with an aluminum body and the remarkable 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt, a sleek roadster with concealed headlights and a retractable metal hardtop styled by Alex Tremulis, who went on to later style part of the legendary Tucker of 1948. Only 6 of each were made.

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