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1922 Chalmers Test Car Part 1

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1922 Chalmers Test Carspost-53992-143142520402_thumb.jpg

I was recently reviewing photos of "concept cars", which the Chalmers Motor Company were proposing to build, for the year 1924. In the background, of the photo above, taken sometime in 1923, are the remains of an automobile which caught my attention. The car was in the process of being dismantled, in the back lot at the Chalmers factory in Detroit, Michigan. I focused in on the mystery car, shown below. The remains were attached to a chassis, supported by four wooden spoke wheels. The original cowl, along with the familiar Chalmers front seat remained. The only body remains were the vertical section between the front and rear doors. Both right side doors had been removed, and the tonneau section was gone. I was becoming more and more intrigued by what I was seeing. An unfamiliar radiator, and radiator shell, had been substituted up front. All four fenders, splash aprons, and both headlights had been taken away. From what I had seen up to this point, I was certain these remains were of a 1922 Chalmers, 5-passenger touring car, except for the wood spoked wheels.

To be continued.


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Above, a photo of a closeup of the partially dismantled 1922 Chalmers Test Car.

Note the '22 G-G Vacuum gas tank mounted on the car's firewall. (see arrow)

1922 Chalmers Test Car Continued:

Chalmers equipped all Model cars with Budd steel disc wheels for 1922, but after further research, I discovered that the Kelsey wood spoke wheels could also be obtained as optional equipment that year. The part that immediately caught my eye, in the closeup photo, was the vacuum tank mounted to the firewall. That unmistakable drum shaped Model G-G tank, was used by Chalmers in 1922, beginning with car serial number (35C) 126324. The difference was so unusual, Chalmers had to modify the 1922 Owner's Manual, that year, to reflect the change. They did this by "squeezing- in" the G-G tank between the gasoline tank photo, and the photo of the prior vacuum tank model. (see photo Fig.4 Fuel System of The Chalmers "Six-30" below).

It was then, that I was convinced that the remains I was looking at, were those of a 1922 Chalmers 5-passenger touring car, that had been modified, and used to test the engine being developed for use in the 1924 Chrysler. That engine was the brainchild of Zeder, Skelton and Breer, the team of engineers who had been working with Chrysler, now at the Maxwell Chalmers plant, since June 6, of that year 1923. To be continued.


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A number of 1922 Chalmers cars were used to carry out extensive testing with the new Chrysler engine installed. Chalmers, in design, utilized the same 117" wheel base chassis from 1918 through 1922. This made it easy to substitute items such as splash aprons, fenders, headlights, doors, and a hood, from earlier Model Chalmers 5 passenger touring spare parts, in order to disguise a vehicle. These substitutions would have satisfied the requirements described by Chrysler, who drove in one of these test cars and described it's performance in his memoirs as follows: "Under an old car's shabby hood we had hidden the unsuspected power of our new high-compression engine". Chrysler never disclosed that the car was a Chalmers.

In the book, "Chrysler", the author Vincent Curcio, refers to the hard testing of the prototype Chrysler engines installed in approximately six unmarked cars, throughout the U.S. A local Maxwell mechanic, in Arkansas, recalled servicing two experimental engines, in an unidentified car, which he recognized as a Chalmers, and probably as a 1922 model, by the changes made that year, possibly post-53992-143142522324_thumb.jpgincluding the G-G vacuum tank, mounted on the firewall. (The tank shown above, is one that mounts on my 1922 Chalmers Coach.)

I will continue to search, and just maybe someday, a photo of the "modified" 1922 Chalmers Test Car just might surface. Now that I think about it, those Chalmers test cars, powered with Chrysler engines in 1922, should qualify for some long overdue recognition.

The end.

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