1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Waterhouse Victoria
Soon after Walter P. Chrysler took over the ailing Maxwell Motor Company and renamed the firm Chrysler in 1924, the company adopted the name Imperial to denote his top of the line offerings. By 1931, Imperial had evolved into a unique automobile that set itself well-apart from the rest of the Chrysler line. The new for 1931 model, known as the CG Imperial, sat atop a massive 145-inch wheelbase chassis, and the body was styled to give a low-slung and rakish appearance. Clearly influenced by the Cord L-29, the new CG Imperial featured broad, sweeping curves and a low-mounted, swept-back radiator grille. Motivation came via a mighty 385 cubic-inch straight eight producing 125-horsepower. The combination of that powerful eight-cylinder engine, coupled with advanced steering and suspension geometry, and four wheel hydraulic brakes gave the Imperial surprisingly good road manners and 100mph ability. Despite its proven ability, the CG Imperial remained a very limited car with only 339 examples built over a three year period. Considered by many to be the most beautiful Chrysler ever built, the CG Imperial is also a favorite among fans of American Classics who prefer to drive their cars as intended; such are their exquisite road manners and outstanding performance.
Of the 339 CG Imperials built between 1931 and 1933, just 99 of those were shipped to coachbuilders outside of Chrysler’s favored circle. Of those 99 cars, approximately six found their way to Waterhouse and Co. of Webster, Massachusetts. Waterhouse was a relative flash in the pan in the coachbuilding world, in business only from 1928-1933, but in that time they produced a series of gorgeous and exquisitely built bodies. Their signature body style was the Convertible Victoria which Waterhouse perfected by only using long-wheelbase chassis, allowing for long, graceful lines as well as additional space for stowage to of the top when folded, giving a cleaner and elegant look. With the top in place, the low roofline, long blind quarters and boot between the rear fenders made for a striking combination – especially when sitting atop the utterly gorgeous Chrysler CG chassis.
We are very pleased to offer this 1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Waterhouse Convertible Victoria, a stunning example wearing highly prized coachwork. The known history of this fabulous motorcar, chassis CG 3843, dates back to 1939 when Mr. Calvin Collins of Pennsylvania purchased it from the McCormick Garage. The Collins family enjoyed the CG for several years until the car was taken off the road. Repeated war-era scrap drives threatened the car’s very existence, but Calvin’s young son Scott Collins recognized how very special his family’s Chrysler was, and pleaded its case to be spared from the scrapper. The car was holed up in the family barn as young Scott dreamed of returning the car to its former glory. Over the years, parts were collected as needed and finally, in 2009, after a remarkable 70 years in the Collins family, Scott offered the car to the respected Canadian restorer Richard Grenon who jumped at the opportunity to purchase it.
Upon closer inspection, Grenon and his son discovered the chassis was in remarkably good condition considering what it had endured, and the aluminum body had survived the years quite well with minimal damage. Much of the structural wood had to be replaced, though he found many of the surviving wood components and smaller chrome items stamped with “163”, the original Waterhouse job number. Over 6,000 hours were spent painstakingly restoring CG 3843, and today it is presented in its original color scheme of a black main body with unique caramel colored side stripes, chassis and wheels. Upon its completion, the car was shown at the Ault Park Concours where it was awarded a class win, as well as the William K. Victor Best of Show Award, an incredible achievement for a car finished just days prior.
CG 3843 remains in stunning condition, having been carefully maintained since the restoration and shown in numerous events including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2012. As one would expect from such a restoration, paint and finish quality is outstanding with hardly a flaw to be found. The chrome is also beautifully presented with show-quality plating on the radiator grille, bumpers and minor trim. The body is minimally adorned, which imparts a very European flavor, particularly in combination with the low ride height and black-wall Firestone tires – originally specified by Waterhouse to highlight the beautiful coachwork. Dual Chrysler-branded mirrors top the side mount spares, and a Gazelle mascot sits atop the radiator; a fitting symbol for such a sporting machine.
The interior is trimmed in incredibly supple caramel-colored leather as original, executed to a concours quality standard. Likewise, the black canvas top and canvas side-mount covers are expertly fitted. A tan leather top boot is included to cover the soft top when it is folded and the windscreen features an interesting fabric exterior sun visor. The cockpit is surrounded with subtle but fine quality wood trim, while the dash is beautifully elegant – a simple body colored panel fitted with exquisitely restored instrumentation. One signature of the Waterhouse design is the pair of courtesy lights built in to the top frame, a nice touch for rear seat passengers.
The CG Imperial’s 385 Cubic Inch inline eight cylinder engine is of course, up to the standard of the rest of the car with correct porcelain-black finishes and paint colors on the engine and cylinder head. Detailing on the ancillaries is exquisite; the engine presenting as a stunning piece of industrial art. Thankfully, the restorer took the time to ensure it performs as well as it looks and has since proven itself on events such as the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. The comfortable seating position, relatively light steering and powerful four-wheel hydraulic brakes make the CG an outstanding machine for touring. It remains in top condition, having just this year taken Best in Show honors at the Muckenthaler Concours, as well as the Huntington Beach Concours. It was also awarded 99.5 points and 1 st in class (out of 24 cars!) at the San Marino Motor Classic CCCA event, also in 2017.
The CG Imperial is no doubt one of the most alluring Chryslers ever produced, and this example, with its achingly beautiful coachwork by Waterhouse and gorgeous presentation make it among the most desirable of the breed. With only three known examples to survive, this represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire one of the finest and most important Chrysler CG Imperials extant.