Classic Car

This 1950 Mopar Anticipated The Future: Chrysler Traveler, The Double-Duty Beauty


Among the vast lineup of Chrysler automobiles from the early 50s, one name falls under a dense shadow of anonymity. The Traveler, a two-year body style offered for the Windsor, is a rare sight, as 900 were made in 1950 and 850 in the following – and final – year.

Chrysler’s 1950 bread-and-butter was the Windsor four-door, six-person Sedan. Over 79,000 left the dealerships that year – including the 900-nearly-unobservable-production Traveler. Windsor models no longer offered the multipurpose Station Wagon body, so the Traveler was introduced as the alternative.

Dubbed “the Double-Duty Beauty,” the would-be utilitarian sported a foldable rear bench that expanded the cargo space all the way to the front row seats. At six-and-a-half feet long and three-and-a-half wide, the flat surface was large enough to facilitate large payload – anything from guns, fishing rods, or agricultural tools to luggage suitcases and “business machines.” Alternatively, campers could use it as a sleeping area.

That’s “computers” in contemporary parlance – and they took up a lot of space back then. So much so that the Traveler had extra storage space on the roof. A wooden rack with metal guard rails all around could fit crates, cases, boxes, and whatnot that wouldn’t fit inside the car.

Of course, being made in such small numbers, chances are there are very few left in the world. Finding one is uncommon, and one in working order is a downright end-of-the-rainbow treasure chest. Miracles still happen, though, and one 1950 Chrysler Traveler made it to 2023 in driving condition.

The merry bunch of gearheads from the Dead Dodge Garage YouTube channel came across a surviving example of this oddball Mopar. A little wrinkled by patina, the Traveler is a sturdy example of solid American automotive engineering.

The engine takes a little convincing to fire up, but eventually, the six-pot L-head Spitfire High-Compression does what it knows best. The waterproof design of the ignition has merit in this. Chrysler took great pride in their build quality and advertised it accordingly.”Water won’t stop it! You can drive a Chrysler in the wettest weather – leave it out all night in dampness or a rainstorm – and never worry about the engine drowning out!

For all vital electrical points in the ignition system – including spark plugs, wiring, coil and distributor – are completely waterproofed to assure reliable engine operation and quick starting in wet weather and dampness.”

Judging by the vehicle’s semblance, it would be fair to say it wasn’t dumped in a shed and left to the mercy of forgetfulness. A bit of wear and tear from so many years of postponed TLC is visible, but the overall aspect is solid and appears original.


The two-tone paint job – an option for the model – held up remarkably well, and so did the interior. The grained alligator hide is actually a plastic imitation that looks fresh, and the headliner, carpet, and panels deserve a high-five.

The 1950 models became available to the public in January of that year. The Traveler was one of the low-level variants. Prices started at $2,560 (almost $32,000 in 2023 equivalence). Demand was far from encouraging, and the Traveler only lived until the end of 1951.

The six-cylinder engine was Chrysler’s powerhouse powerplant. 4.1 liters (250.6 cubic inches – sales literature had a particular inclination for exactness) produced 116 hp and 208 lb-ft of torque (118 PS / 282 Nm). Chrysler deemed a 7.0:1 compression ratio as “high” and mated a four-speed semi-automatic gearbox to the engine. Two low-range and two high-range gears made the Traveler a four-on-the-tree automobile.

The transmission – branded Prestomatic Fluid Drive – had a mechanical clutch override if the driver decided to make fine adjustments for precision maneuvers (like reverse or parking). The column-mounted gear lever was used to engage the first (or first Low) and third (first High). Second and fourth were automatically selected.A clutch pedal allowed the driver to cut the power to the rear wheels altogether.

The friction clutch was installed between the fluid coupling and the gearbox. Chrysler boldly acclaimed the Traveler, but drivers weren’t convinced about the utilitarian-to-family-cruiser transcendence. In 1950, SUVs were far, far away into the future, and the Windsor derivative was more of a losing horse than automotive inspiration.

Perhaps the existing DeSoto Suburban and Carry-All models were more appealing. A similar third car from the same corporation didn’t strike anyone as “innovative.” Also, the Chrysler-branded variant was more expensive than the two DeSoto siblings.

The Traveler was a marketing exercise more than a solution to everyday motoring needs. But, like most automobiles of the age, it had a sturdy build. This ruggedness enabled one particular example to survive for 73 years.

It holds pretty well – the gauges are all functional – and runs and drives surprisingly smoothly. The radio doesn’t, sadly, but that’s a minor inconvenience. The radiator fan belt is loose – an easy fix – and the cabin is smelly (not a surprise in a car in this state). At least the defroster blows vividly, and the clock still tics, a defiant stand-up to time itself and to the 91,271 miles (146,855 kilometers) on the odometer.


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