1941 Chrysler Newport Indianapolis 500 Pacemaker by LeBaron
Offered by RM Auctions | Fort Worth, Texas | April 27, 2013
The Chrysler Newport Dual Cowl Phaeton was a limited-production car built by Chrysler in 1940 and 1941. U.S. automotive production ceased at the end of 1941 to make way for war production, making this the last truly grand pre-war American automobile.
Ford had just introduced the Continental and GM was showcasing its concept car in the form of the Buick Y-Job. Chrysler needed to show that they could do style as well and the Newport project was born. Walter P. Chrysler died in 1940 and soon after, his successor approached Ralph Roberts at the famed coachbuilder LeBaron to design a two-seat and four-seat concept car. The two-seater was the Thunderbolt, and the four-seat was the Newport. One of my favorite parts of this story is one of legend: that Roberts wanted to show what a 1941 Duesenberg Dual Cowl would have looked like had they stayed solvent.
Chrysler liked what they saw and ordered five more examples (of each) to be built – in 90 days – in time for the 1941 auto show season at the end of 1940. The Newport had flowing lines and hideaway headlights and drove up excitement for other Chrysler models. This particular car was the only Newport built that had exposed front headlights. And it was chosen to pace the 1941 Indianapolis 500. After the race, it became the personal car of Walter P. Chrysler Jr.
The engine is a 143 horsepower 5.3-liter straight-eight. This car was in all-original condition when it was acquired in 2000 by its then-owner. It was painted light green with green interior – what Walter Jr. wanted after he took the car home. It was sold by RM at Amelia Island in 2009 for $687,500. It has apparently been restored – or at least repainted to its, presumably, original color scheme. It is expected to sell for between $900,000-$1,200,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Update: Sold $880,000.