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Chrysler Model 77 Roadster, Blue, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, for $79,900.
From the scalloped hood vents to the dramatic sweeping panel that slices across the bodywork just behind the cowl, the Model 77 roadster looks like a far more expensive vehicle.
Known for innovation and technologically advanced designs, Walter P. Chrysler took the company bearing his name from start-up in 1924 to over 60,000 units sold in 1930. Competing in the mid-priced field with the likes of Buick, Studebaker, and even some of the lesser models of Peerless, the cars were stylish, fast, and thanks to Chrysler’s early adoption of hydraulic brakes, some of the safest cars on the road. Despite the stock market crash of 1929, Chrysler heavily revamped their 1930 model lineup with new styling, increased horsepower, more features, and introduced the spectacular Imperial line designed to compete with the likes of Packard and Cadillac at the top of the luxury car market.
Other than the mighty Imperial (which was technically a different brand) the Model 77 was the top-of-the-line Chrysler. It enjoyed racing success overseas, as Chrysler had been competing in Europe since its inception. Chrysler knew that winning races would help sell cars, and in 1930, a Model 77 roadster similar to this one finished fifth at SPA in Belgium behind three Alfa-Romeos and a Bugatti. However, as the Great Depression’s shadow grew longer, new car sales faltered and only 1729 Model 77 roadsters were built.
This particular roadster was extensively restored by world-famous White Post Restorations in Virginia in the mid-1980s, and was a first prize winner at the AACA’s annual Hershey show in 1987. Since then, it has been driven only twelve miles (yes twelve), and remains in very nice condition throughout with only minor storage wear evident. The two-tone blue finish is a period-correct paint scheme that uses single-stage paint to accurately recreate the soft gloss of the original lacquer, and the detailing throughout is extremely well done. From the scalloped hood vents to the dramatic sweeping panel that slices across the bodywork just behind the cowl, the Model 77 roadster looks like a far more expensive vehicle. Exquisite detailing such as the recessed belt molding highlighted by hand-applied silver pinstripes, the hood ornament inspired by Viking helmets, and a stylish, thin-rimmed radiator shell give it a far more upscale look than its $1625 sticker price would suggest. The body and paint on this roadster remain in excellent condition, and we apologize for the car’s dusty appearance in our photos—it will absolutely clean up beautifully.
The chrome remains excellent throughout with only some slight water spots in a few areas detracting from the bright finish. There’s virtually no pitting or loss of brilliance on any of the polished or plated parts, and even the hood ornament shows exceptional detail that’s the hallmark of quality workmanship. As an indication of the car’s condition prior to the restoration, look no further than the Chrysler ‘77’ badge between the headlights, which remains in original condition. Accessories include dual side mounts, cowl lights, a single taillight, and a folding luggage rack.
The interior is lined in supple blue leather, with a simple split bench seat and matching door panels. Nicely preserved, the seats show almost no wear, and with only 12 miles on the odometer since the restoration, there are no stretch marks or creases. A simple rubber floor mat was standard equipment, and the steering wheel is an interesting 3-spoke piece with a textured perimeter that was surely inspired by Chrysler’s racing efforts. Gauges are housed in a lovely art-deco housing that is quite reminiscent of the Chrysler Building in New York City, which was completed the same year. The knob behind the driver’s seat opens the unique rumble seat lid with hinges that allow the upper third of the lid to fold back on itself, a design that permits a larger opening with disturbing the car’s sleek lines when the seat is open. Upholstered in matching blue leather, the rumble seat compartment also features matching side panels and access through a golf bag door on the passenger’s side. Overhead, a black canvas top is in new condition thanks to a protective plastic cover, and this car includes a full set of side curtains for inclement weather.
The 268 cubic inch inline-six engine provides lively performance, thanks to its impressive 93 horsepower output (Packard’s 320 cubic inch straight-8 was rated at 90 horsepower, and Cadillac’s 341 cubic inch V8 was rated at 95, so the Chrysler six was certainly competitive). Mated to a 4-speed manual transmission, it moves the lightweight roadster with aplomb and is equally happy on a quiet country road or at modern highway speeds. The flathead engine has been fully rebuilt, starts easily, and runs properly. Correct turquoise engine paint has been used on the block and head, while all the accessories and components have been rebuilt to stock specifications. The Chrysler powerplant uses a Stromberg downdraft carburetor at a time when all its competitors were still using updraft units, and it features an oil-bath air cleaner that wouldn’t be standard equipment on other makes for several years. The engine bay shows signs of having been in long-term storage, but requires little more than a professional-level detailing to be ready for show. There is some seepage at the head gasket, but it appears quite old and the owner’s mechanic assures us that the car does not leak today. Note the low-mounted master cylinder for the hydraulic brakes, which are firm and feel quite modern compared to the mechanical brakes on many of this car’s contemporaries. 18-inch wire wheels are in excellent condition and wear 6.50-18 Lester wide whitewall tires, which appear to have been installed at the time of restoration.
Seldom shown and still in excellent condition, this lovely Chrysler shows little more than what many would call “shelf wear, ” and with a professional-level detail, could be ready to show again. Better yet, take it out on the road where it would be a spectacular tour car, thanks to its combination of superlative power, sturdy suspension, and powerful brakes. Few body styles are more desirable than the open roadster, and this Chrysler’s handsome lines will make it a welcome addition to any collection.
Thanks again to our friend Daniel Vaughan at www. ConceptCarz. com for providing some of the photos that accompany this car.
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Engine:268 cubic inch inline-six
Location:Warrensville Heights, Ohio