Junkyard Gem: 1954 Plymouth Savoy Sedan

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American automobile consumers purchased many tens of millions of the four-door sedans that flew off Detroit’s meeting strains within the decade after World Battle II, and so loads of them nonetheless stay in barns, garages, driveways and yards at present, awaiting loving house owners who will put them again on the highway. Sadly, these with the money and time to tackle difficult classic automotive tasks are inclined to choose coupes and convertibles, particularly these made by the higher-prestige marques. That implies that many of those vehicles proceed to expire of time with every passing day, taking that remaining tow-truck journey to their final parking areas. In the present day’s Junkyard Gem is a type of vehicles: a 1954 Plymouth Savoy four-door painted in Piedmont Maroon, present in a Denver self-service yard lately.

For instance of what number of of those vehicles nonetheless get crushed every year, this is a partial listing of among the 1946-1956 American four-door sedans I’ve personally documented in automobile graveyards over the past decade or so: 1947 Dodge Custom, 1947 Frazer Manhattan, 1948 Plymouth Special Deluxe, 1949 Dodge Coronet, 1949 Kaiser Special, 1949 Oldsmobile 88, 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe, 1950 Cadillac Sixty-One, 1950 Chrysler Royal, 1950 Studebaker Commander, 1951 Chevrolet Styleline, 1951 Frazer, 1951 Lincoln Cosmopolitan, 1951 Plymouth Cranbrookanother 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook, 1952 Kaiser, 1952 Buick Special, 1952 Mercury Custom, 1953 Packard Clipper, 1953 Plymouth Special, 1953 Pontiac Chieftain, 1955 Studebaker Commander, 1956 DeSoto Fireflite and a 1956 Mercury Montclair.

It is particularly powerful for the 1946-1954 Plymouths, as a result of these vehicles have been seen as stodgy transportation home equipment for cheapskates once they have been new. Because the Nineteen Forties turned the Nineteen Fifties, most American vehicles turned longer, sleeker and flashier-looking, however Plymouths appeared to remain the identical.

For the 1955 mannequin 12 months, Plymouths got a clean-sheet redesign and caught up with current styling trends well enough (in all probability not coincidentally, Plymouths finally got their own dealerships in late 1954, somewhat than simply being bought out of Chrysler, DeSoto and Dodge showrooms). However for 1954, the most effective Chrysler might do with the seems of the more and more aged-looking Plymouth was give it a new grille and some body chrome. Bumpers have been made to stay out just a few additional inches to cheat on the general size a bit.

Chrysler’s Plymouth Division entered 1954 in third place for gross sales (behind first-place Chevrolet and second-place Ford) and had dropped to fifth by the tip of the 12 months, due to Buick and Oldsmobile grabbing the third and fourth spots, respectively.

Issues appeared very old school beneath the ’54 Plymouth’s hood. It is a Chrysler flathead straight-six, a easy and dependable engine with ancestry stretching again to the Nineteen Twenties; if this one is that this automobile’s unique plant, it is a 217- or 230-cubic-incher rated at 100 or 110 horsepower. Whereas Chrysler started constructing vehicles with trendy overhead-valve V8s as early as the 1951 model year, it wasn’t till the Slant-6 debuted for 1959 that the outdated flathead was retired from vehicles (although it soldiered on, actually, in military vans for a lot of further years).

Loads of new American vehicles nonetheless had flathead engines in 1954, in fact; you can purchase a brand new American automobile with a valve-in-block engine design all the way through 1964. Nonetheless, valve-in-head designs have been shoving the outdated flatheads apart in a rush by the center Nineteen Fifties. Ford launched an overhead valve straight-six for 1952 and a pushrod-equipped V8 for 1954. Chevrolets had overhead valves of their sixes going all the way back to 1929, and everyone knows what happened in the Chevrolet engine world in 1955.

Even the Plymouth sailing-ship hood decoration (positioned atop the engine by a junkyard shopper) appeared old school in 1954. Although Plymouth had been named after a brand of twine popular with American farmers, the ship theme was an try to attach the model with Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower.

Plymouths did get an optional fully automatic transmission for 1954, although this automobile has the three-speed column-shift manual that went into most Detroit machines on the time.

The 1954 Plymouth may very well be bought with an optionally available Hy-Drive semi-automatic transmission in addition to the bottom three-on-the-tree or two-speed PowerFlite automatic. With the Hy-Drive, you bought a clutch pedal, the usage of which was solely crucial for beginning out from a lifeless cease. As soon as underway, you can shift between ahead gear ranges with out touching the clutch.

Although this automobile does not have Hy-Drive, this advertisement is price a watch.

Whereas we’re at it, this is how Chrysler’s Dodge Division pitched the PowerFlite a bit later.

So this automobile was thought-about hopelessly behind the occasions when it was new, however that ought to make it even cooler to somebody at present who needs to work on and drive a classic Detroit machine. The physique on this ’54 is nice and stable, with no rust-through that I might discover, and the inside is not the nightmare of powdered horsehair and hantavirus-laden rodent poop that you simply see in so many Excessive Plains vehicles left outdoor for many years. I feel it spent a lot of the previous couple of many years in a storage, awaiting a revival that by no means got here.

Somebody liked this automobile and took care of it for at the very least the primary few many years of its life. I am guessing the checkered-flag decals date again to the early Seventies.

The half that actually hurts is the airbrushed mural on the decklid. At first I assumed the 1970s-Los Angeles-style lowrider depicted right here with a chop job and Dayton wheels was an idealized illustration of this ’54 as it might sometime be in actual life, however additional examination reveals that the illustration seems to be primarily based on a mid-to-late-1940s Chrysler or maybe Pontiac. In any case, this automobile deserved a greater destiny.

The unique vacuum-tube radio (which needed to heat up for some time earlier than working) remains to be within the sprint. The truth that no person put in a extra trendy sound system implies that this automobile by no means bought transformed to a 12-volt electrical system (Plymouths had 6-volt electrics till 1956). Observe the CONELRAD nuclear-attack triangle-in-a-circle symbols at 640 and 1240 kHz; 1953 was the primary 12 months for obligatory CONELRAD symbols in car radios, not coincidentally following the first test of a working fully thermonuclear weapon the 12 months earlier than. The infamous Castle Bravo H-bomb test was within the information when this automobile was brand-new.

Smokey the Bear has a message for you.

Attempt to think about this automobile again in 1954, when the inside awaited a well-dressed girl after a go to to the jewellery retailer. The truth is, the Savoy (which was the mid-grade Plymouth trim stage for 1954) listed at simply $1,853 for 1954, which quantities to one thing like $20,555 in 2023 {dollars}. That is lots of automobile for the dough!

These easy bench seats would not have price a lot to get re-stuffed and re-skinned, by the requirements of such work.

As I often do, I carried an outdated movie digital camera with me on this boneyard go to. This {photograph} was taken with an Ansco Shur-Shot, a New York-made inexpensive field digital camera that will have been favored by the Plymouth-buying demographic in 1954.

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