Chrysler Corporation supplied...
Chrysler Corporation supplied at least one official car for the fifth year in a row, and two for the second straight year. One of the O.C.s was a C-14 Imperial four-door convertible sedan. It was painted silver to commemorate the 25th running of the 500-mile race at Indianapolis. Credit: IMSC.
Chrysler products did double duty as official vehicles this year. One of them was a '36 DeSoto S-2 Airflow four-door sedan (4,750 built from September 1935 through August 1936). The other was a '36 Chrysler C-8 Airstream four-door convertible sedan (362 built from September 1935 through August 1936). The DeSoto's 241.5ci six-cylinder had 6.5:1 compression, 100 hp at 3,400 rpm, and 185 lb-ft at 1,200 rpm. The Chrysler's 273.8ci eight-cylinder had either 6.2:1 compression, or a squeeze of 7.0:1 using an aluminum cylinder head. Power figures were 105 hp at 3,400 rpm and 200 lb-ft at 1,200 rpm, or 110 hp at 3,400 rpm and 206 lb-ft at 1,200 rpm.
The DeSoto's wheelbase measured 11511/42 inches, and the Chrysler's was 121 inches. The S-2 DeSoto was the official car for the AAA Contest Board's secretary, and the C-8 Chrysler was the official car for the chief steward. Louis Meyer became the first three-time winner at Indy in the No. 8 Ring-Free Special.
The '39 Chrysler Royal C-22...
The '39 Chrysler Royal C-22 four-door sedan was a handsome vehicle for official car duties. Chrysler products from the late '30s through the early '40s had highly distinctive grille/front-end treatments. Credit: IMSC.
The official cars were a '37 DeSoto S-3 four-door convertible sedan (426 built from September 1936 through August 1937), and a '37 Imperial C-14 four-door convertible sedan (325 built from September 1936 through August 1937). The DeSoto was constructed on a 116-inch wheelbase chassis, and its 228.1ci six-cylinder had 6.5:1 compression, 93 hp at 3,600 rpm, and 168 lb-ft at 1,200 rpm. The Imperial's wheelbase measured 121 inches, while its aluminum-head straight-eight generated 110 hp at 3,600 rpm and 212 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm on the standard 6.7:1 compression, or 115 hp at 3,600 rpm and 220 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm, on an optional compression ratio of 7.4:1. Both cars were specially painted silver to commemorate the 25th running of the Indy 500 race on May 31, 1937. Wilbur Shaw won a sprint to the finish by 2.16 seconds over runner-up Ralph Hepburn in the No. 6 Gilmore Special.
The O.C. of the AAA's chief steward for the May 30, 1939 race was a '39 Chrysler Royal C-22 four-door sedan (45,955 built from August 1938 through July 1939). The 241.5ci six-cylinder had either a 6.5:1 compression ratio or a squeeze of 7.0:1, with an optional aluminum cylinder head. The output came to 100 hp at 3,600 rpm and 184 lb-ft at 1,200 rpm, or 107 hp at 3,600 rpm and 190 lb-ft at 1,200 rpm. The wheelbase measured 119 inches. Wilbur Shaw bested all-comers for the second time in the No. 2 Boyle Special.
Acres of swooping aluminum...
Acres of swooping aluminum bodywork graced the Newport dual-cowl phaeton, which was the most uniquely styled official pace car used at Indy prior to World War II. Six Newport phaetons were constructed by Briggs/LeBaron, with Ralph Roberts responsible for the classic design. It is believed that four phaetons still exist, including the official pace car. Credit: IMSC.
The Chrysler Newport dual-cowl phaeton official pace car was designed by Ralph Roberts and constructed by Briggs/LeBaron. A total of six were built during 1940, as were six Thunderbolts, which were the creation of stylist Alex Tremulis. The Newports had all-aluminum bodywork, and rode on the Crown Impe-rial's 145.5-inch wheelbase chassis. The engine of choice was the 323.5ci straight-eight using an aluminum cylinder head, with either 6.80:1 or 7.45:1 compression. Power figures were 132 hp at 3,400 rpm and 260 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm, or 143 hp at 3,400 rpm and 270 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm. The transmission of choice was the four-speed Fluid Drive.
A. B. Couture was tapped to pilot the official pace car However, prior to the start of the May 30, 1941 race, a conflagration erupted in the pit area, which resulted in the destruction of several garages and race vehicles. The race's starting time was delayed for two hours, but once under way, it proved to be a thrilling affair, with Mauri Rose relieving Floyd Davis in the No. 16 NOC-OUT Hose Clamp Special. The two drivers were named co-winners of the last pre-World War II Indy 500 race. The Newport phaeton pace car still resides at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Originally painted gold with a burgundy leather interior, the official pace car is now ivory in color with wire wheels from the '50s. It is believed that several '41 Chrysler sedans were supplied as official cars.