Auctions and Brokerage
Formerly the Property of Lloyd Mayes
The First Town and Country Series
Rooted in drawings penned circa 1938 by Chrysler designer “Buzz” Grisinger, the sporting yet elegant Chrysler Town and Country was championed by Chrysler Corporation General Manager Dave Wallace as a limited-production showroom-traffic generator. A fastback sedan rather than a station wagon, the first-series Town and Country is commonly known as the “Barrelback” due to its smoothly curved profile and clamshell rear doors revealing a useful cargo compartment. Six- and nine-passenger versions were offered.
Updates for 1942 brought streamlined frontal styling and distinctive brightwork front and rear. Production ended soon after the full-scale US entry into WWII, with just 999 manufactured for 1942 including 849 nine-passenger models. According to Executive Vice President Harold Mermel of the Town and Country Chapter of the National Woodie Club, just 16 nine- passenger Barrelbacks from 1942 are known to remain today.
The known history of this nine-passenger 1942 Chrysler Town and Country dates to the 1970s, when Harold Mermel bought it from a friend in New York City as a solid-running car with very good original woodwork. Of particular note, this Barrelback was complete with many difficult-to-find original items, including the Chrysler rear-fender skirts and a proper set of 12” unscripted hubcaps. During the early 1990s, Mr. Mermel sold it to Lloyd Mayes, the noted Town and Country specialist and restorer from Las Vegas, who was widely respected for his relentless drive for perfection. During Mr. Mayes’ ownership, a complete, body-off restoration was performed, with new and correct woodwork fitted by Morro Bay, California’s Dave Henderson. The car’s original paint color was Royal Maroon, but since Mr. Mayes had already owned other examples in that color, it was changed to St. Clair Blue, a factory-correct color, at the request of his wife, Martha. Mr. Mayes also obtained the red leather hides currently adorning the car’s interior. As the original “Spitfire” six-cylinder engine was deemed sound, rendering a complete rebuild unnecessary, it was simply freshened as required.
During the 1990s the Barrelback was acquired from Mr. Mayes by Robert Brelsford of Palm Springs, California, who completed the remaining restoration work. Highlights include the interior restoration with the upholstery re-trimmed in the aforementioned red leather and restoration of the original dash including its handsome wood- grain finish. The “Vacamatic” semiautomatic transmission was rebuilt and equipped with a new vacuum diaphragm for proper operation.
Under Mr. Brelsford’s ownership the vehicle was exhibited in the special Chrysler Town and Country class at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It has also proven itself on the road, most notably during two 550-mile round trips to Phoenix and three 240-mile drives to Encinitas, California’s Wavecrest Woodie Meet and back.
In 2011, the Town and Country was acquired by the consignor and placed within his impressive Sacramento private collection specializing in wood-bodied classic automobiles, primarily from Chrysler Corporation. Fastidiously maintained by a dedicated and knowledgeable restoration staff, stored, and enjoyed, the Town and Country has been carefully sorted and elevated in its correctness and presentation, including detailing of the Spitfire engine. A roof-mounted luggage rack, a popular Town and Country accessory in period, was recently fitted to the car and provides further appeal. Very fine in presentation and exceedingly rare, this landmark automobile from the immediate prewar era stands ready for continued enjoyment and, as a CCCA Full Classic, it will provide entry into a multitude of popular events. As such, its offering is a truly exceptional opportunity to acquire one of the finest, most desirable, and truly rare wood-bodied automobiles ever conceived.