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Chrysler Royal 66, Blue, for sale in Charlotte, North Carolina, for $26,995.
By 1930, Chrysler had already cemented their position as not only a viable marque, but as a corporation that could rival the mighty General Motors. After a disagreement with Billy Durant at GM, Walter P. Chrysler started manufacturing vehicles that bore his own name in 1924. Using state-of-the-art technology like hydraulic brakes and full-pressure engine lubrication, Chryslers quickly gained a reputation for being rugged, reliable machines. In the years that followed, Chrysler added brands like Dodge and Plymouth to their roster, allowing the Chrysler brand to move up market, culminating in the spectacular Imperials of the early 1930s, which were easily a match for the Cadillacs and Packards of the era.
This 1930 Chrysler 66 was the entry-level Chrysler, a step above the Plymouth brand and perhaps akin to an Oldsmobile over at the GM stable. Finished in the original shade of Cobalt Blue with black fenders, this might be the nicest Chrysler 66 sedan available anywhere. With a full, frame-off restoration completed in the recent past, the detailing and paintwork are exceptional, and well beyond what was possible in 1930. The doors open and shut precisely, the panels line up extremely well, and with fresh weather stripping, it seals up very well given its age. Crisp break lines between the blue body and black moldings suggest a high degree of professionalism in the work, and the incredibly glossy surface probably required hours and hours of color sanding and buffing to reach this level. All the chrome has been restored, from the clean radiator shell to the stylish bumpers.
Interior furnishings were a big deal in 1930, and while it may seem strange to us today, leather was typically reserved for less expensive open cars, while fabrics like the wool used in this Chrysler sedan was considered luxurious and upscale. Faithfully reproducing the original patterns for the seats and door panels, the interior is bright and airy, and maybe just a little bit formal, given this car's upright profile. The dash and door panels are warmed with woodgrain-styled metal inserts, and they have been beautifully refinished. The minimalist dashboard features only basic gauges, but an aftermarket temperature gauge has been added to keep an eye on the cooling system. The big, hard rubber steering wheel makes wheeling the unassisted steering (of course) a breeze, and modern turn signals have been installed for safety's sake. In back, you'll probably be stunned by the amount of legroom this sedan offers, and it's fun to realize that this is the SMALLEST Chrysler-imagine how spacious the larger Imperial must have been! Other luxurious appointments include the delicate, art-deco handles and cranks on the doors.
Chrysler's reputation for performance and reliability was earned, not mere marketing hyperbole. The engine that forged that reputation is the inline six-cylinder unit found in this model 66. With a flathead design and displacing 195.6 cubic inches, it made a fairly robust 65 horsepower (for comparison's sake, a 1930 Ford made just 40 horsepower). But the big story in 1930 was torque, and a lot of it at very low speeds. Remember that roads were often crude and unpaved, and low-speed smoothness was treasured above high-speed performance. This car will happily slog around in top gear at 10 MPH, and smoothly pulls to its top speed of about 70 MPH without hiccups. In reality, this sedan is probably happiest cruising at about 45 or 50 MPH, thanks to the tall tires and relatively steep rear end ratio. The 3-speed transmission is not synchronized, so you'll need to practice your double-clutching, but clutch effort is light and you'll find that shifting quickly works best. Brakes are 4-wheel hydraulic, which gives you better braking in this Chrysler than just about any other vehicle of the era, and they feel firm and confidence-inspiring, especially when compared to the often spooky mechanical brakes of its peers.
This one also includes a thick pile of restoration photos, receipts, and a ton of period Chrysler literature that gives you a lot of background on what life was like in 1930.
If you're a Chrysler fan, this is one of their most successful early models, beautifully restored to original condition. There's a feeling when driving these older cars that you just can't duplicate by stuffing a small block Chevy under the hood and a Nova front clip on the frame. Feeling the machinery going about its business the way it did 80 years ago is a rare treat, and too many hobbyists overlook that simple pleasure. These cars were reliable daily drivers when they were new, and there's no reason they can't function reliably today with just a modicum of maintenance. This one is simple, rugged, and well-engineered, and it's just a pleasure to drive. If you find yourself bored with all the hype over hot rods, why not pick up something a little more authentic and see what life felt like when your grandfather was a boy?
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Location:Charlotte, North Carolina