Monday, August 11, 2014

Show Car Sunday/Monday returns with a car the color of nougat

I was recently a passenger in a car driving through Danbury, CT when this shiny vision presented itself to us (luckily the couple I was with were fine with pulling over for a quick shoot):
This is a very nougaty 1938 Plymouth P6. The P6 designation meant it was the deluxe model as opposed to the more basic P5. The only way to tell the difference on a body style offered for both trim levels (which the 4 door was) is the lack of vent windows on the P5.
I love the pudgy face of this ride which only looked like this for the 1938 model year. The year before was the last where the windshield was hinged at the top and could be cranked open for ventilation. The year following this one brought about a radical change in design including unique rounded-edge square headlights that were incorporated into the fenders.
These free-floating headlights attached to the side of the cowl were ubiquitous until 1938 for one reason; the Pierce-Arrow automobile manufacturer was the first to integrate the headlights into their fenders for a more modern look all the way back in 1913, and they patented the look as the calling card for their company. Because of this patent no other car maker could place the headlights flush with the fenders, making the U.S. automotive landscape looking somewhat primitive. The patent expired after the '38 model year, resulting at once in a sweeping and almost universal modernization of the fronts of cars produced in this country.

For a brief moment in U.S. automotive history Plymouth was the 3rd most popular vehicle in sales, which is all the more remarkable as it was always a division of Chrysler as opposed to its own entity. In fact between 1930 and 1937 Plymouth was the only automaker to increase sales every year (keep in mind that this was the Great Depression and Plymouth was positioned perfectly by being a value brand). Unfortunately this is the car that broke the upward trend; it was panned upon release for looking overweight and too similar to previous model years to justify its large price increase.
I love these smart red wheels with original hubcaps and reproduction Firestone tires that mimic the look of the ones this car was rolling on 76 years ago.
This rather proud hood ornament is a representation of the Mayflower on its way to Plymouth Rock, which is the namesake of this car. The details are great; the rushing waves, the wind or speed lines, and the full sails all make for a very cool logo. Incidentally this ornament is affixed to the stationary center bar that runs from the grill to just below the windshield. In this era most cars had split hoods hinged on the middle bar that opened up from the sides.
The interior is nice and basic, yet beautifully done. So many classic have terrible modern interiors done either as an afterthought or out of some misguided hot rod styling. This Plymouth maintains its original seats and door panels in appropriately drab material befitting a value brand from the Depression.
Everything the driver needs is incorporated into that one middle panel of the dash; speedometer on the left, a surprisingly comprehensive set of gauges in the circle to the right, and an ashtray in the middle. On either side are the glove compartments which, in 1938, were actually for gloves! Imagine going out to drive your car in February with no heater. You'd want gloves too.
This is a nice feature I didn't expect on a 4 door; rear vent windows that pop out for fresh air.
You've got to love the old license plate this thing is rocking.
Again with the Mayflower logo, this time with Plymouth barely legible on the side of the ship. The condition of this pockmarked emblem really shows the age of this car. Either this is a replacement sourced from some junker sitting in an Arizona desert for 50 years (really the only sort of place you find body parts for these things today), or this car itself was once in horrific condition before restoration. Spending big money to restore a 4 door from this era is a money-losing proposition though as you can buy a car just like this for right around $10,000.
This angle illustrates the history of the trunk. Way back in the beginnings of car manufacturing the trunk was actually a trunk that would be placed on a rear shelf of the car for removal upon reaching your destination. Eventually it became incorporated into the body, but at this stage it's still recognizable as a separate hump. In 1980 Cadillac tried to recreate this look with their "Bustle Back" styling. They were paned ruthlessly for offering what looked to be a Caddy with the rear end cut off, proving you can never go home again!
This is also the end of the era of taillights on stalks separate from the body. The full filler cap is still totally ignored as a design element. Basically they designed the car and then said "we need a place to put the gas", and this is what they came up with.
This antenna has me scratching my head because I didn't see a radio. They were offered as special equipment usually installed by the dealership in '38. In fact, the rear seat has a place for an optional rear speaker to be installed which must be one of the very first. Maybe this car had one originally which would've been a box hanging under the dash and it's been lost to the ages. A replacement would be hard to come by and expensive for sure.
We'll close this entry out with the snazziest of the Plymouth logos, this one on a red background like the one on the trunk. The pitted condition of the chrome when viewed up close makes me think this car went through a full restoration. This would have to be a labor of love, perhaps done by somebody who learned to drive in one of these, or wanted to fix up the ride that had been sitting in their father or grandfathers garage all these years. Regardless it's the nicest old Plymouth I've ever seen and a great classic for Show Car Sunday/Monday.

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