While the Chrysler Airflow marked a radical departure from typical 1930’s designs, the Airstream represented a mild makeover of the 1933 “CO” amd 1934 “CA” models, albeit with a more flowing and streamlined design – something to ensure Chrysler dealerships throughout the USA literally had “something for everyone”.
The Chrysler chiefs knew they had to ensure product continuity, and given the Airflow’s radical departure from anything that came before, and the difficulty they were having in moving product, the Airstream was intended as a stepping stone for those unprepared to make the leap of faith.
Launched in 1935 as a 1936 model, the Airstream was available on a 118 inch wheelbase, with a 4.0 liter flathead straight six engine developing 93 bhp, or a 121 inch wheelbase using a 4.5 liter straight eight developing 105 bhp, both mated to a three speed manual transmission.
While more traditional than the Airflow, the Airstream featured balanced weight distribution, an all-steel body, and other advanced Airflow features wrapped in a more conventional shape. It had a solid front axle, and shared its basic body with Plymouth.
During its two and a bit years of production, the Airstream outsold the Airflow five to one in its first year, and nearly nine to one in 1936. Chrysler discontinued the "Airstream" model name for both Chrysler and DeSoto at the beginning of the 1937 model year.
History would judge the Airstream as an incredibly important car for Chrysler, literally keeping the company afloat during the turbulent post depression years, where the car that should have put them miles ahead of the competition, the Airflow, failed.