Tim Bean loves his 1947 Chrysler Windsor – and who wouldn’t It’s a stunning car that turns heads every time he takes it out.
There’s an interesting history to this car…Built by Chrysler in Canada, it was part of a fleet of approximately 15 vehicles that the NZ government purchased from the Irish government for the Royal tour. Following the tour, the cars were used to ferry visiting dignitaries around the country. “I’ve seen a few of these about, but not many. I’m pretty sure that the government fleet were the only ones that made it to NZ,” Tim says.
Tim saw the vehicle with a FOR SALE sign on it, almost 35 years ago, on the Christchurch street where he was living at the time. It was dented and covered in primer, but there was something about it that caught his interest. Every time he drove past it, he looked, and every time he got a little bit more interested until finally, he just had to buy it.
Living and working overseas for a few years, the car was put into storage until recently when he returned to NZ and set up Performance Fitness Centre in Timaru.
Unusual features on this four-door sedan are the divided windscreen, suicide doors at the rear, and bench seats front and back. It was marketed as a 6-seater, but Tim laughs when he recalls a time not so long ago, when he managed to fit ten or more people in!
It also has a very unusual Fluid Drive transmission and clutch system. “It’s a bit like driving a truck. It has two gears in low range, and then you move up, but once you get used to it, its fantastic. A lot of these were made for the American market and used as cabs, so that’s why the transmission is the way it is. You can stay in the high range and just cruise all day, smooth-as.”
There’s a straight six under the bonnet, which has required very little work. “I’ve tickled the motor up a bit, had the braking system overhauled, replaced rubbers and seals around all the doors, had the bodywork completed, and Tinwald Canvas have done a superb job of the full leather interior. That’s about the extent of it. It runs like a top.”
A while back, Tim was out driving his newly buffed and polished Windsor, when “an old bloke” on the street waved rather excitedly. Tim doubled back and stopped to ask if he knew him. “I don’t know you, but I do know your car,” he said. Turns out, he’d been a government chauffeur back in the day, and knew all about these cars. He told Tim that a special badge had been issued to the ones used in the Royal Tour and he showed him where to check for it. Tim’s car doesn’t have one, but he does have great stories of other dignitaries who travelled the country in his car. Tim moved over and let the chap drive the car once more, for old times sake. “I probably should have checked to see if he still had a current licence, but I figured if he was good enough for heads of state, he was probably OK,” he grins.