Steve White grew up in a household where the family car was always a Chrysler. "Dad was always a Chrysler guy," White remembers.
Once White had achieved adulthood status, he started exploring automobiles built by other auto manufacturers, but about a year ago White saw an ad offering for sale a 1952 Chrysler Saratoga Club Coupe. White knew this was Chrysler's smallest car that year with the biggest engine.
Unfortunately, the car was located in the Pacific northwest, a long distance from White's home in Virginia. While corresponding with the seller, he learned that the 17-foot, 3-inch-long Chrysler was purchased new and was now in possession of the third-generation of the original buyer. Pictures showed that the rust-free car had recently been resprayed in the original Superior Blue. White decided to take a leap of faith and purchased the Chrysler sight unseen.
The truck delivering the Club Coupe arrived in January, and White believes that everyone in his neighborhood must have heard the delivery as only mere remnants of the exhaust system were in place to muffle the 331-cubic-inch Hemi-head V-8 engine that was still producing 180 horsepower.
Beneath the oil bath air cleaner is a two-barrel Carter carburetor which drinks regular grade gasoline from the 20-gallon tank.
"Cars I like to get have some racing history," White says. He explains that 1952 was the second year of Hemi-head V-8 production, and Chryslers were winning all sorts of racing and speed events.
White was pleased at the quality of the paint. He was also surprised to find that the full wheel covers were free of dings and dents. The 15-inch wheels support the 3,935-pound Saratoga on a 125.5-inch wheelbase. The interior upholstery is a tasteful blend of dark blue seats, dark blue carpeting, and dark gray door panels with light gray trim.
Just in front of the two-piece windshield is the cowl ventilator. The rear window is in three pieces with the two smaller side windows separated from the center window by chrome strips. Surrounded by all that glass, White observes, "The visibility is very good."
While seated behind the three-spoke steering wheel the driver has an unobstructed view of all the instruments surrounding the 120-mph speedometer. Peering through the steering wheel the driver can see the Fluidmatic Drive gear selector. From the left the gears are: Reverse - Low - Neutral - Drive. White says he would be more comfortable if there were a parking gear. The handbrake serves that function. The passing gear is activated by pressing a button on the gear selector arm. That eliminates the necessity of flooring the accelerator for enhanced passing performance.
Five quarts of oil and 25 quarts of coolant are required to keep the Hemi happily humming. The automatic transmission has a capacity of 13.5 pints of fluid.
When new the Chrysler had a base price of $3,187. The number of cars produced during the 1952 model year is somewhat fuzzy but is estimated to be 3,145.
The principle cosmetic difference between the 1951 and 1952 models lies in the rear fenders. The 1952 Chrysler has backup lights incorporated into the taillights. At the other end of the Chrysler, meshed into the chrome trim, are the parking light/turn signal lenses. White says they are functional but he wants to replace the lenses with pristine glass.
The four massive front bumper guards help give the front bumper an intimidating presence. Driving his Chrysler Saratoga, which has only 121,000 miles, gives White much joy.
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