Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Twofer Tuesday returns with back-to-back episodes of Mr. Belvedere!

Finding just one of these cars was plenty exciting for me, but finding another was just crazy! Without further ado I present 2 1955 Plymouth Belvederes:
This first one is a bit of a beater, but it was sporting current plates and valid registration & inspection stickers so I suppose it's mobile. Unfortunately the hood looks to have been used as a surface for laying something down that needed to be spray painted black. That's just lazy! Wasn't there a piece of cardboard or newspaper around? You HAD to use the hood of a 60 year old car wearing its original paint? And what's with the drivers side headlight getting a blast of black paint too? Animals!

 Regardless this is a '55 wearing at least some of its original Miami Blue paint. I encountered this up in a quiet corner of Astoria that was fully stocked with parked classics. Sometimes you pass a rockabilly loft with several cool Kustoms, other times there are a couple of body shops near each other resulting in a bevy of old rides being scattered about. I think this was a combination of the two.
Belvedere in script makes for a quick identification on this ride. Plymouth had 3 trim levels in '55, with the Belvedere being the top of the heap. Below this was the mid-level Savoy and the truly spartan Plaza. The trim levels were all named after famous hotels while the color choices are all named after towns in both Florida and California (some color examples are Biscayne Blue, Glades Green, Palm Beach Gray, Mohave Brown, Santa Rosa Coral, and San Diego Gold). The forward-leaning front announces the fact that this is the first example of legendary designer Virgil Exners Forward Look. The spare tire from a modern car? At least it's keeping it off the ground.

Oh, ok, here is a perfect example of why Bondo should be practiced on a junkyard car first by the amateur. I don't know the level of rust that this is hiding but it looks like paper mache now! I do love the fuel filler door with the airplane motif.

This is pretty plain-as-day for a Belvedere. The fact that the chrome spear on the side is an unbroken horizontal line means that this is a one-tone car. If there was an optional PowerFlite automatic transmission in this car it would've been announced in chrome script on the right side of the trunk lid so I think this has the standard Syncro Silent trans. The gearshift for '55 was a one-year-only setup where a small chrome shifter came right out of the dash. The next year they would change that over to the fabled push button transmission.

Basic, but well proportioned is how I would describe the '55 Plymouths. They are notably restrained compared to the gaudiness of other domestic cars of the day.

One last detail to point out on this ride; that free-standing chrome emblem on the front of the hood between the ornament and the grill is horizontal. This means that this car was equipped with the PowerFlow 6 cylinder engine. If it was built with the Hy-Fire V-8 that emblem would be in a V shape (like the one below). The spelling for both of those engines is exactly how it was written in their brochure by the way. Now on to a nicer example!

Alright now we're talking! This, too, is a '55 Belvedere but this one has the aforementioned V8 as announced by the hood emblem. I encountered this sweet ride in the Kensington/Borough Park area of Brooklyn.

This thing is beautiful and I would have gladly used it for Show Car Sunday had I not run across the other one. Here we can see the difference in chrome side trim for cars ordered with the 2-tone paint.

These are the correct original hubcaps for this car which to me seem somewhat cheap and unfinished. They further support the understated overall design I suppose.

This is a curious little item. Listed as a "Distinguished Medallion" in the Plymouth literature, it is trumpeted as a hallmark of quality. It was supposed to be found on only the convertible and 2-door sport coupe, but I'm guessing it went along with any 2-tone cars that had this chrome treatment.

This is a damn fine looking ride in its 2-tone scheme. I think the blue color is Tampa Turquoise with the black being listed simply as Black.

This ride has the optional PowerFlite installed. This transmission only lasted from '54-'61 but has a reputation of durability to this day.

I have no doubt that you could jump in this thing and drive off immediately. Some cars look shiny and nice but there's a feeling about them where they probably don't get much use. This car sits level on properly inflated matching tires and all the minutia such as mirrors are adjusted for use.

2-tone cars were huge in the 1950s, with some automakers even producing tri-tone schemes as well. This setup with the roof and lower-rear body being different from the rest is about as standard as it gets. This is the first year for the wraparound windshield which Plymouth refers to as the New Horizon. Combine that name with the Forward Look and you can see how much they were selling the modern American optimism as much as their cars.
This has a set of chrome eyelids installed which cover the top half of the headlights. I'm usually not into them, but this poodle-skirt edition Plymouth is just the sort of ride that would have had them installed way back when so I'm alright with it. I doubt I'll have too many Twofer Tuesdays with cars this old or cool, but at least I was lucky this time.
*One detail to let you know you're way out on the outer boroughs; all those power lines in the background! There haven't been overhead wires allowed in Manhattan since 1884 (though it took a blizzard in 1888 that too down most power lines for the electrical companies to follow suit). Brooklyn was given the same law in 1885 ordering the borough to bury their lines but the telephone (and now cable) wires were allowed to remain.

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