1936 Chrysler Convertible Sedan

The Chrysler Corporation factory in Highland Park, Michigan, a close-in Detroit suburb, built the beautifully restored 1936 Chrysler featured in this article. Interestingly enough, the Ford Motor Company also maintained a very large factory in Highland Park on Woodward Avenue.

1936 Chrysler Convertible
1936 Chrysler Convertible

This model, the 1936 Chrysler Convertible Sedan, was advertised as a car with flair. That was the main point in much of Chrysler’s advertising for this model. Chrysler promoted the fact that the 1936 Chrysler was built for “young people of all ages“.

Looking at the car you can surely see it’s attractive design lines. Chrysler promoted the 1936 Convertible as a quality car with flair and they claimed the car was economically advantageous in fuel consumption. Automatic Overdrive, an option, was claimed by Chrysler to save about 20% in gas consumption. Chrysler also claimed, like several other automakers, that their 1936 models were inexpensive to maintain.

The Chrysler 1936 models had a new car starting price of $760 and the relatively low starting price was prominent in Chrysler advertising of that year. The rare eight cylinder 1936 Chrysler Sedan Convertibles sold for about $1,300. Not expensive but a bit of money for the middle of the Great Depression era.

1936 Chrysler Sedan Airstream
1936 Chrysler Sedan Airstream

Chrysler’s Airflow and Airstream

The Airflow’s design was the first car ever to be tested in a wind tunnel at the recommendation of Orville Wright. Chrysler spent six years of experimentation and full testing for this design.

The Airflow name hinted at a sleeker automobile design with less air resistance. Chrysler engineers at the time were at the forefront in how automobile body designs acted with the environment. One thing they did determine was that the two-box design of prior automobiles was aerodynamically inefficient. Chrysler’s Airflow model was unquestionably lower and sleeker than what was then on the streets.

Chrysler Corporation came out with their “Airflow” models in 1934 which were received less than spectacularly. Although they competed well in stock car racing the public never really latched onto them. As a result, Chrysler introduced the new “Airstream” model in 1936 just a year after the Airflow.

1936 Chrysler Airstream Convertible
1936 Chrysler Airstream Convertible

Airflow sales were so dismal that the 1936 Chrysler Airstream was actually introduced in 1935. Over just the two years that Airstream was in production, the Airstream outsold the Airflow five to one in its first year, and an almost unbelievable nine to one in 1936. This demonstrates just how much more the public accepted the Airstream design. It’s been said that the Airstream brought people back to Chrysler who had been scared away by the Airflow model.

Airstream was used also for the DeSoto brand. Both Chrysler and DeSoto discontinued the Airstream name in 1937.

When in production, the Airflow and Airstream were built as both two door and four door models.

1936 Chrysler dashboard
1936 Chrysler dashboard

1936 Chrysler Sedan Specifications

The engine on this car is a straight eight, 323.5 cubic inch displacement. The engine could deliver a maximum of 115 horsepower. The engine had two valves per cylinder.

Standard transmission was a three speed manual with an option offered for an automatic overdrive.

The 1936 Chrysler Sedan had a wheelbase of 123.0 inches and an overall length of 201.6 inches. Vehicle weight averaged about 4,000 lbs.

The 1936 Chrysler Airstream models were were sold with two trim styles, Custom and Deluxe. Probably the biggest difference was that the deluxe models had a one piece windshield and the Custom’s two piece.

Total Chrysler production for the 1936 model year was 71,296 vehicles.

1936 Chrysler grille and headlamps
1936 Chrysler grille and headlamps

See the links below for additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles of classic cars of the 1930’s.

1936 Hudson Deluxe Eight

1938 Ford Deluxe Convertible Club Coupe

The 1939 Ford Deluxe Convertible Coupe


1936 Chrysler Auction Prices

As of this writing there has been a restored and modified 1936 Chrysler Airflow two door coupe with an asking price of over $500,000. By the same token, there has been an unrestored old 1936 Airflow for an asking price of $3,500. Also a restored 1937 Airflow with an asking price of $60,000 and another 1936 Chrysler Coupe for $30,000 and yet a fully restored sedan model at $90,000.  A 1936 DeSoto Airstream has been seen with an appraised price of $20,000.

The prices asked are obviously in a wide range and final selling prices may be substantially lower. The price will vary for several reasons including the exact model offered and the degree and quality of restoration.

Restorations of 1936 Chrysler Airstream’s have been popular. If you find one and wish to sell it you shouldn’t have a difficult time. The cars in general are not the easiest to find and I would consider them rare. The 1936 Chrysler Convertible Sedan and Coupe models are even rarer.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)