SILVER ANNIVERSARY LUXURY LINER!
I was somewhere between 4th and 5th Avenues in Brooklyn near Atlantic when I stumbled upon a duo of classics. I featured a '71 Caddy like the white one earlier this week, but how often do you see something this old in a regular spot?
This is a 1939 Dodge Luxury Liner in Black. The internal company name was the Dodge D-11, but all of the promotional copy says Luxury Liner. This is a 1 year only car built from October '38 through October '39 only. To encounter one 77 years after production on a Brooklyn street is amazing!
How long ago was 1939? When this ride was brand new sitting in an art deco showroom World War II was breaking out in Europe, Lou Gehrig gave his famous "Luckiest Man in the World" speech, and the rightfully maligned La Guardia Airport opened for the first time.
This year was the Silver Anniversary for Dodge which started producing cars way back in 1914.
The hood opens up on each side with its hinges in the middle. This car is just as stately as can be in black with all that classy chrome. I found an original copy of the brochure online and the verbiage is great. They call this the "most stunning front ensemble" ever created, noting that the fenders "flow outward with the grace of an eagle in flight". Yes!
This was the first year for Dodge having their headlights on the fenders as opposed to hanging off of supports connected to the sides of the cowl. The luxury automaker Pierce-Arrow first moved their headlights to the fenders in 1914 and patented the move in a stroke of genius. From 1914 until Pierce-Arrow went out of business in '38 every other domestic automaker had to have their headlights exposed in their own pods, keeping them looking like they were much older than they were.
I love the milk glass turn signal lens and the thick glass headlights on this Liner.
From the side you can really see the prow of this ship jutting forward at full height. This actually looks like a luxury ocean liner slicing through the waves of the fenders.
Art deco streamlining accentuates every detail of this ride, right down to the awesome hubcaps. The brochure called these "whorl-style" caps.
This is a beautifully balanced design without a hard edge to be found. What the hell is that person in the background doing? I failed to notice when I was snapping pics.
It's easy to see from this angle that this is the era that bore the VW Beetle. The brochure brags about the fact that the luggage compartment is completely concealed as opposed to the former trunk style bump. This is the final step in evolution from actually having a steamer trunk held on to the back of the car with straps to being fully integrated. The origin of the name trunk is an actual trunk!
These were trumpeted as being "deep-cushioned, lounge-style, Chair-Height seats" though the upholstery was much different than this redo. It's kind of a shame because this car is so well appointed and restored that the owner should really pony up the extra cheddar to do the seats right as these are almost a phone-in job. Too harsh? Too bad! Nice headliner though FWIW.
That's right - if your car is 77 years old you can just park wherever the hell you want without fear of a ticket or towing license plates be damned.
Why is there a black garbage bag sticking out of the trunk? Who knows?
The 1939 brochure also states that daredevil Jimmie Lynch uses a new Dodge for all his antics. I found a short advertising film featuring Jimmie and his new Dodge from 1942 that shows him driving over railroad ties, climbing a staircase, and even jumping the car to show off its durability.
The gearshift is on the column for the first time for Dodge in 1939. The clutch was said to be an "Easy Pressure" version where only a touch of the foot was needed to shift gears. "Women particularly will like this new feature!" the brochure states! The brakes had a pressure equalization feature meant to reduce pulling to one side when stopping hard. The split windshield was said to have airplane-style visibility by wrapping around to the sides.
Well that's all I've got for this beauty. I had a 1947 Dodge that was remarkably similar to this because of the dormancy in auto production during WWII. This is the era where cars finally became what they would be like until the 1980s. Technology would change, safety and emissions equipment would develop, but for the most part a 1939 car and a 1979 car were more similar than dissimilar.
These everyman cars from the pre-WWII era are not very valuable for the most part (convertibles and luxury editions notwithstanding). If you found one in decent shape and wanted it for a weekend driver I would recommend it. The maintenance and repair is so straightforward on these rides that you'll never look at a new car the same way again. In addition you're basically on parade every time you climb into your rig and drive down the street.
Tomorrow at midnight this car will turn 78 years old so Happy New Year & Birthday Dodge!