1931 Chrysler CD8 Deluxe Eight Sport Roadster - $79,900
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Compared to almost anything else from 1931, the CD8 is long, low, and sleek, and unlike many convertibles of the period, looks equally good with its top up or down.

From the very beginning, Chrysler Corporation was dedicated to cutting-edge technology in their automobiles. In the 1920s, that meant hydraulic brakes and mechanical fuel pumps in place of vacuum tanks, features shared with such names as Duesenberg and Auburn but very few others. Early styling was stodgy and the lack of an 8-cylinder powerplant kept Chrysler from competing on equal footing with some of the bigger manufacturers, and certainly not GM. That all changed in 1931 with the introduction of the all-new Imperial 8, a top-of-the-line luxury car that could compete with anything from Cadillac, Packard, or Lincoln. Still, there was a rather wide gap between the basic Chrysler line and the Imperials, which is why Chrysler introduced the CD8. Initially powered by a 240 cubic inch straight-8 and styling by Al Leamy, the same designer who penned the dramatic Cord L29. In January 1931, the CD8’s engine was upgraded to a 261 cubic inch straight-8 and in May of that same year, Chrysler introduced the CD Deluxe Eight with a 282 cubic inch version of the same powerplant. Also referred to as the Series III cars, these late-production CD8s would disappear after just 1484 were built, making them some of the most highly-sought 8-cylinder Chryslers of all.

This spectacular CD8 roadster is one of those late-production Series III cars, offering all the upgrades including the 282 cubic inch engine and 4-speed manual transmission, as well as standard Chrysler features like those powerful hydraulic brakes. It shouldn’t be any wonder that cars like this were favorites for stock car racing and a similar roadster even appeared at LeMans. Agile handling, a low center of gravity thanks to the dramatic Al Leamy styling, and the powerful straight-8 made it a formidable car on the track and a delight to drive on the road. Having spent time behind the wheel of this spectacular roadster, I can attest that it’s fast and comfortable, competent and reliable, all ideal features for a car that’s going to be used in combat.

That’s not to say that this car has ever been driven in anger, because it’s absolutely gorgeous from any angle. The restoration is a few years old, but it’s quite accurately done and wears its original color combination of Timber Beige with Deerfield Brown moldings and fenders, along with Omaha Orange wheels, and it looks just spectacular today. Compared to almost anything else from 1931, the CD8 is long, low, and sleek, and unlike many convertibles of the period, looks equally good with its top up or down. Dual sidemounts and a trunk rack add to the upscale air that was Chrysler’s target market, and there’s just not one single line that’s out of place. Finish quality is excellent and it shows minimal wear since it was completed, although the passage of time produces some inevitable micro-blisters that are visible upon very close inspection. But otherwise it’s exceptional and needs nothing to be enjoyed immediately. The doors and rumble seat lid fit well and close on well-oiled hinges, the hood swings open easily, and details such as the matching Omaha Orange pinstripes add a dashing bit of flair. There’s simply no angle from which this car isn’t beautiful.

The chrome remains in excellent condition throughout with no issues. There’s an accessory grille guard up front that features a pair of “Herbert Hoover for President” badges, which are a nice complement to the Hoover and Prohibition license plate tags on the rear bumper. The car is fitted with cowl lamps, wind wings, and an accessory right-side brake light that provides a nice symmetry to the rear end. Well-placed steps permit easy access to the nicely finished rumble seat.

The interior is gorgeous brown leather, but calling it “brown” seems to be selling it short. It’s so luscious that you almost can’t resist touching it and it’s just beautifully done. The driver’s seat is adjustable and both front seats use correct patterns to mimic the original look. Simple door panels with map pockets, nicely fitted carpets with custom floor mats, and a nice ribbon of leather around the dash make it feel well-tailored and speak to the quality of the restoration. There’s a full array of white-faced gauges in the center of the dash (what, you thought that was a new invention?) and they’re all functional, and we have every reason to believe that the 60,832 miles showing on the speedometer are authentic. Controls are simple and familiar and everything works except the passenger’s side windshield wiper, which is missing its arm. The tan canvas top folds easily and the rear window curtain is removable to provide pleasant flow-through ventilation on warm days when too much sun with the top down would be uncomfortable. There’s also a matching tan canvas boot. The rumble seat, as I mentioned, is beautifully finished and includes small storage compartments on either side and a surprising amount of legroom, complements of the CD8’s lengthy 124-inch wheelbase.

As the final iteration of the CD8, this roadster received the larger 282 cubic inch straight-8 which makes right around 100 horsepower. That’s a fairly significant number, besting Packard’s 320 cubic inch unit and coming close to Buick’s new 344 cubic inch OHV straight-8 at 104 horsepower. You can imagine that performance is lively indeed. It’s a traditional flathead design with a downdraft carburetor, and it does indeed use a mechanical fuel pump to ensure reliability even when it’s hot. It’s beautifully sorted, as it fires to life easily within a few turns and settles into an even idle without the need for choke or other coaxing. There’s a pleasing mechanical whirr from under the hood and a nice 8-cylinder grumble from the single exhaust pipe out back, connecting you to the car rather than isolating you from it. There are some minor signs of use on the engine, as this is a favorite tour candidate, but beyond some heat-related paint issues on the exhaust manifold, it’s extremely tidy under the hood. Looking around, you’ll see an accessory oil filter unit on the side of the block, a heavy-duty cut-off switch on the starter, and the hydraulic master cylinder for the brakes down low on the left rear engine mount. Things like the wiring, hoses, and plugs are correct and even the splash pans are intact. It’s not quite detailed for show, but it’s better than most of the cars you see on tours.

Chrysler also offered a 4-speed manual transmission, which you’ll find in this car. In truth, it’s nothing like the 4-speeds of the muscle car era, and what it really is, is a 3-speed with a choice of two first gears. There’s an ultra-low first gear and a regular first gear that you’ll use 99% of the time. The shift pattern is standard 3-speed manual, although the first gear slot branches into two separate gears, including the ultra-low creeper gear. Out back, it uses period-typical 4.10 gears but thanks to the smooth straight-8, it’s happy to cruise at 50-55 MPH without much effort. The chassis is like the engine bay, nicely detailed but showing signs of use, which only means that this Chrysler is fully sorted and ready to enjoy. The suspension is comfortable and capable, making the roadster feel agile instead of clumsy, and Chrysler’s hydraulic brakes are quite modern in their feel and remarkably powerful, so the car feels confident on the road. Wire wheels really dress the car up and are fitted with 6.00/6.50-17 Lester wide whitewall tires that have plenty of life left in them.

Beauty, speed, quality; this Chrysler embodies them all. For a high-speed tour vehicle it’s a superb choice and it’s stunning good looks will earn it a place on any show field. With only a handful known to exist, this is an excellent opportunity to own one of the very best to come to market in years. Call today!

Vehicle: 1931 Chrysler CD8 Deluxe Eight Sport Roadster
Price: $79,900
Stock Number: 114011
Mileage: 60,829
VIN: 7515254
Engine: 284 cubic inch straight-8
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 4.0999999999999996
Wheelbase: 124 inches
Wheels: 17-inch wire wheels
Tires: 6.00/6.50-17 Lester wide whitewall
Exterior Color: Timber Beige and Deerfield Brown
Interior Color: Brown leather
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