In this 1934 Chrysler promotional reel, famed Indy car driver Harry Haartz drives a new Imperial Airflow coupe to a slew of speed and distance records at Bonneville.
Introduced in January of 1934, the Chrysler Airflow was not simply unorthodox in appearance. It was revolutionary in most every way, from its cab-forward packaging to its unitized body/chassis construction. (You can learn more about the Airflow’s ground-breaking design and engineering in this video.) To demonstrate the new model’s capabilities to a suspicious public, Chrysler arranged a whole series of performance stunts, including the trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats documented here.
For the Bonneville speed runs, Chrysler retained the services of race driver Harry Haartz, a shrewd money racer from California who started the Indianapolis 500 six times and scored three second place finishes. In August 1934 on the salt, Haartz drove a showroom stock (reportedly) Imperial Airflow coupe to 72 speed and distance records, including a flying mile at 95.7 mph and 2,000 miles at an average of 74.7 mph.
In this very same production Imperial coupe, it is claimed, Haartz then drove from New York to Los Angeles to demonstrate the Airflow’s durability and economy, averaging 18.1 miles per gallon. And as this promotional reel demonstrates, Haartz was also fluent in 1930s-style screwball banter, apparently. Watch for the peppy exchange between Harry and the announcer starting at the 2:30 mark. All great fun, enjoy.