Saturday, January 21, 2017

1949 Chrysler Inauguration wrought rant edition

This blog isn't political. I like old cars and talking about them more than people need to be subjected to in person so I leave my descriptions here for anyone with an interest. However in light of the general mood of activism today (The day of the Women's March on D.C. and elsewhere) I thought I'd pepper my post with period correct facts to let you decide whether or not America was better then. It's shocking how recently things we couldn't imagine being allowed now were the norm.
This is a 1949 Chrysler either Windsor or New Yorker. It's hard to say because it seems the tell tale side trim has been shaved off. In 1948 when this car was being prepared for release the Supreme Court declared illegal the practice of private parties blocking minorities from buying homes in white neighborhoods.
The powerful double chrome bar grill was new for '49. A few years later in 1952 the Tuskagee Institute stated that for the first time in their 71 years of keeping records there were no lynchings of African Americans for the year.
1949 was the Silver Anniversary for the Chrysler Corporation which was founded back in 1924. In 1924 the United States granted citizenship to Native Americans (how generous) as recognition for the 10,000 who served in WWI. Several Indian nations declined in favor of retaining their sovereign nationhood. The years between '24 and '49 included such diametrically opposed events as the U.S. internment camps during WWII and the founding of the NAACP. Jackie Robinson broke baseballs color barrier in 1947 (HELLOOOOO BROOKLYN!).
There was originally a chrome spear following that line trailing back from under the headlight to the end of the front fender, and another on the rear fender. It looks so factory perfect that long with those dog dish poverty hubcaps I thought maybe this was a stripped down model. Chrysler was at the top of the Mopar hierarchy though so no base models existed (you were encouraged to look into Dodge or Plymouth for cheap wheels).
From the rear you can see this is very much a '40s car with its big rounded dimensions. This represented the transitional time between the rehashed pre-WWII models available immediately after the war and the futuristic '50s rides to come.
The next generation Chrysler was a brief chapter, running from '53-'54. 1954 also happened to be the year of Brown vs the Board of Ed which is widely regarded as sparking the Civil Rights Era. The following year had Rosa Parks refusing an order to move to the back of the bus.
I'm a fan of any tape repair on a car. This one os remarkably conservative, keeping the general feel of the missing or damaged taillight lens.
When this car was 10 years old Hawaii and Alaska were granted State status bring the total of states to the current 50. The following year of 1960 was the year of the famous Lunch Counter Sit-in which started in Greensboro, NC, and quickly spread throughout the South.
In 1962 this ride was 13 years old, usually the age where it would have found at least a second owner. The overall condition is so solid that perhaps it sat in a nearby garage all this time. '62 was also the year Cesar Chavez organized the United Farm Workers Union. 
In 1963 someone more often than not would jump up from their stool to fill up your car at a service station. It was also the year of the legendary I Have a Dream speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. JFK, more of a civil rights champion than any previous president of that century, is assassinated.
Due to the placement of the column shifter I imagine this is a semi-automatic Fluid Drive trans. With the Fluid Drive you used the clutch to start in first gear from a stop but simply lifted your foot off the gas to shift through second and third. There is also a factory radio with preset buttons for your favorite stations. This ride was also built with a surprisingly complete array of gauges for a luxury car. This radio most likely played the reports of 1965 from Selma, Watts, and the assassination of Malcolm X.
The interior looks to have redone in a somewhat tasteful way, even if a little doo-wop for my preferences. This is strictly a 1950s look, with solid hues becoming the norm for the '60s.
1966, '67, and '68 were definitive years in the Civil Rights movement. Race riots spread across 164 cities throughout the country, sparked by a Detroit police raid on the Black Panthers. Within 2 months of each other MLK and Robert Kennedy are assassinated.  
This quirky little shape at the base of the windshield is a push-up scoop to allow airflow into the interior. It harkens back to the early days of the automobile.
When this car was 20 years old in 1969 police raided the Stonewall Inn in NYC, sparking the Gay Rights Movement. The initial riot grew in size and quickly became organized into activist groups.
Look I don't really know what the point of this post was except to highlight the fact that millions of people are taking to the streets today in some good old fashioned peaceful activism. It's refreshing to see that this country's still got it together enough to care about issues on such a grand scale. The 68 years that have passed since this Chrysler was built witnessed so much change on so many levels, mostly in the interest of inclusion, that I felt compelled to state that the hellfire and brimstone inauguration speech was built on empty claims. Hopefully by the time this Chrysler turns 72 it can drive off into a progressive future for one and all.

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