(This article originally appeared in Hemmings Classic Car #132, September 2015)
I am in the very fortunate position of having incredible access to automotive sales literature. Each day I am just feet away from a vast treasure trove of material. From Duryea material from the 1890s to Mini Cooper brochures from 2015, I have access to it all. On a daily basis I handle dozens of pieces of literature and I’ve seen quite a bit in my 7 years on the job. While I can’t say that I’ve seen everything in the 1-million+ piece library collection, I can tell you I’ve seen the vast majority. While most sales literature is interesting in one way or the other, every once in a while we get a piece that is so unique that it practically takes your breath away. This happened just a few months ago when one of our regular visitors donated a dealer album that he acquired in late 1942 from his local Chrysler dealership. The album was used inside the dealership during 1942 and when it arrived at our library all work immediately stopped as we crowded around to drool.
The immense size of this giant album is the first thing that stands out to the reader. Closed, the hardbound album measures 21” X 27 ¼” and opens to 42” X 27 ¼”. The front cover features a green spine and embossed title & Chrysler logo on tan textured hardboard. When the album is opened we see that the 26-pages are bound notebook style so each page can be removed if the need arises.
All five series that Chrysler offered in 1942 appear in the album along with each body style. The Royal & Windsor series are represented first followed by the Saratoga, New Yorker and Crown Imperial models. Each section is heavily illustrated showing body & styling details, interior features, accessories and specifications. In case you were wondering, yes, the Town & Country is represented on two pages that discuss features, construction and creature comforts.
In my opinion, the best part of the album are the detailed interior pictures that show dash & upholstery detail. So many people restoring their cars beg for interior pictures or illustrations from sales literature and this album delivers the pictures but goes even further by providing actual fabric samples and detailed illustrations of dash plastic colors and woodgraining patterns! In the thousands & thousands of brochures I’ve looked at I’ve never come across another one that provided this level of interior detail. Also, many Chrysler enthusiasts enjoy looking at the plaid Highlander interior and the album includes illustrations and fabric samples of this unique upholstery.
World War II naturally had a tremendous impact on the auto industry. During the shortened sales year of 1942, Chrysler only sold 5,292 units, dropping them to 12th place in sales. While their car sales were low, the quality of this dealer album is second to none. If I were tasked with creating an Automotive Sales Literature Hall of Fame, this album would easily be the first entrant into the club. If you own a 1942 Chrysler, you need to take a close look at this album.