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Pekin Wood Products
Pekin Wood Products Company, 1920s-1950s; Helena, Arkansas
 
Associated Builders
 
     

In 1941, the Chrysler Division introduced their own station wagon, the legendary Town & Country. However, USCHo/USB&F, Chrysler Corporation's previous supplier, would not build the vehicle nor supply the millwork used in its construction.  

Chryslerís president, David A. Wallace was not attracted to the generic look of the USHCo/USB&F wagons and wanted to create a more luxurious and streamlined vehicle more befitting the prestigious Chrysler brand.

The Town & Country name had previously been used on an aerodynamic station wagon proposal submitted to Chrysler in 1939 by Boyertown Bodyís Paul Hafer. Chrysler elected to build the body in-house, but liked the name and appropriated it for the new Chrysler wagons. Clearly influenced by Haferís submission, Chryslerís designers came up with a striking fastback (aka barrelback) with a tapered steel roof and a unique clam-shell tailgate, paneled in Honduras mahogany surrounded by a frame of white ash.

A small Chrysler-controlled sawmill located in Helena, Arkansas called Pekin Wood Products - not Boyertown or USHCo/USB&F - was selected to provide the vehicleís wooden components which were mated to a Chrysler Windsor chassis at Chryslerís Jefferson Ave. plant in Detroit.

Pekin Wood Products was a West Helena, Arkansas lumber mill and factory dating from the 1920s that furnished Chrysler Corp. with wood boxes, crates and milled components. A controlling interest in the firm was purchase by Chrysler in the late 30s and along with USHCo/USB&F, the firm supplied wooden components for Plymouthís 1939 and 1940 wagons. While USHCo/USB&Fís bodies were shipped completely assembled, Pekin supplied knocked down wagon bodies that were crated and shipped by rail to Plymouthís Lynch Rd assembly plant in Detroit for final assembly.

During World War II, Pekin supplied Chrysler Corp.ís Mound Road truck plant with forty car loads of knocked-down wood boxes that were used to crate components destined for the European and Southeast Asian theatres.

Appendix

TOWN AND COUNTRY PRODUCTION FIGURES 

Year

Production

Notes

1941

996   

200 6-Passenger and 796 9-Passenger

1942

999

150 6-Passenger and 849 9-Passenger

1946-48 Sedans

4,055

1 Brougham, 4,054 Sedans

1946-48 Conv.

8,375

Plus 6 Hardtops and 102 "8" Sedans

1949

1,001

All Convertibles, and 1 Hardtop

1950

701

All Hardtops

1983-86

3,725

All Convertibles

© 2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

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References

Michael Richards - Natural Wonders - Forward: The American Heritage of Daimler-Chrysler, Spring Summer 2002 Vol 3 No 1

Donald J. Narus - Great American Woodies and Wagons

Donald J. Narus - Chrysler's Wonderful Woodie: The Town and Country

Donald F. Wood - American Woodys

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Chrysler

F. Donald Butler - Plymouth-Desoto Story

   
 
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