The Chrysler Town & Country was a station wagon manufactured by Chrysler Corporation and sold under its flagship brand from 1941–1988. The model was also sold as a sedan, coupé, and convertible from 1947–1950 and as a convertible again from 1983–1986.
Chrysler re-introduced the Town & Country nameplate as a luxury rebadged variant of the Dodge Caravan minivan in 1990 and continues to sell this incarnation of the Town & Country to the present day.
The Town & Country was a debut of the first woodie wagon with an all-steel roof; the roof used was that of the big Chrysler Imperial 8-passenger sedan and limousine, which led to a unique (and compromised) rear loading arrangement with wooden double doors that opened hutch-style beneath a fixed rear window. Production of the cars stopped during World War II. In 1941 and 1942, fewer than 1,000 were manufactured.
After the war the Town & Country nameplate returned, but the station wagon body did not. Town & Country sedans, coupés, and convertibles were also produced from 1946 to 1950 in much larger numbers than the prewar wagon. Production of the original, woodie Town & Country ended in 1950.
The 1950 Crosley Hot Shot is often given credit for the first production disc brakes but the Chrysler Crown Imperial actually had them first as standard equipment at the beginning of the 1949 model year. The Chrysler 4-wheel disc brake system was built by Auto Specialties Manufacturing Company (Ausco) of St. Joseph, Michigan, under patents of inventor H.L. Lambert, and was first tested on a 1939 Plymouth. Unlike the caliper disc, the Ausco-Lambert utilized twin expanding discs that rubbed against the inner surface of a cast iron brake drum, which doubled as the brake housing.
The Ausco-Lambert disc brake was complex, and because of the expense, the brakes were only standard on the Chrysler Crown Imperial through 1954 and the Town and Country Newport in 1950. They were optional, however, on other Chryslers, priced around $400, at a time when an entire Crosley Hot Shot retailed for $935.
After the woodies were discontinued, the Town & Country name was immediately transferred to a steel-bodied full-size rear wheel drive station wagon, coinciding with the debut of the company's first V8 engine (then called FireDome, but later dubbed HEMI). This wagon introduced several firsts, including roll-down rear windows for tailgates in 1951 and rear-facing third row seats in 1957, rear wipers in 1968, integral air deflectors in 1969 and ignition interlock to prevent children from opening the gate while the car was running in 1971.
The 1951 Town & Country wagons were offered in the Windsor, Saratoga and New Yorker series. The New Yorker version disappeared for 1952, but reappeared for 1953 when the Saratoga series was dropped. The Windsor version lasted through 1960, then was moved to the new Newport series for 1961; the New Yorker edition continued through 1965. Then in 1969, the Town & Country became a series in its own right.
From 1960 to 1964, all Town & Country wagons were built with hardtop styling. In 1965, the Town & Country was officially placed on the Chrysler C platform, along with such cars as the Chrysler New Yorker and Plymouth Fury. The 1968 edition added simulated woodgrain paneling, in a way bringing it back to the tradition of the 1941–1950 Town & Country.
Starting in 1978, and ending in 1981, the Town & Country moved to the same bodytype or shell as the compact rear wheel drive Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare wagons. The more upmarkets were considered a separate series, designated the Chrysler M platform, which included the Chrysler LeBaron, Dodge Diplomat, and Plymouth Gran Fury as well as the Town & Country. There were, however, not many substantial differences in the chassis and powertrain, and only Town & Country had plastic woodgrain trim on the sides.
From 1982 to 1988, the Town & Country name was used on a station wagon version of the K-based, front wheel drive LeBaron, featuring plastic woodgrain exterior trim. A convertible version was manufactured from 1983 to 1986 which featured plastic woodgrain paneling to bring up comparisons to the original 1940s convertibles.