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Cheap Wheels: 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe

1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe

How often can you find a running, drivable 67 year old classic car of any kind at an affordable price these days? Here is one example on eBay, a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe, located in Richmond, Virginia, with a BIN price of only $3,100.

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This is a P-18 series Club Coupe, of which some 99,680 were built in 1949, the first year for Chrysler Corporation’s truly postwar designs. While they were more modern looking than their predecessors, 1949 Chrysler Corporation cars were notoriously designed to the requirement stated by company president K.T. Keller that they must enable a man to drive while wearing a hat.

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Thus, while these cars were more compact and modern looking than previous Mopars, they were much more upright and less sleek looking than their competitors from GM and Ford, and sales evidently suffered in that model year.

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Still, I find these cars attractive, and especially in the two door configuration. While they were called coupes by Plymouth, they were really sedans, with posts and upright styling. Although powered by low compression L-head six engines that originated in the 1930s, producing only 97 bhp, with the manual transmission, they were (and still are) easily able to keep up with traffic, and are roomy and fun to drive.

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At this car’s price point, you can’t expect perfection, and this old Plymouth does have some flaws. It is one of those “selling for a friend” cars (which so often enables a seller to claim he doesn’t know much about the car). In this case, apparently the owner is elderly and can no longer drive, but the seller does provide a pretty good description and detailed photos of the car.

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It has a rebuilt engine, has been converted to 12 volt electrics, good battery, all gauges except the gas gauge work, and the seller says the engine runs and idles well. The brakes work, but need pumping, so there are probably some leaks in the wheel cylinders, hopefully not the brake lines, but rust is always a possibility.

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The tires are said to be good, there is a new starter motor and the car has passed Virginia inspection.

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There is some rust in the rockers, as shown, and every likelihood that there is some in the floors and trunk as well.  The interior appears usable, though in definite need of cleaning.  Seat covers have been redone in non-original low quality materials, and the headliner is gone. The car appears to have been repainted in the original color at some point during its life. This looks like a color Plymouth called “Kitchener Green” in their paint charts.

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The seller notes that the gas tank has a patch on it from the previous owner but no leaks now and that is a definite red flag.

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This car looks clean and almost usable as is. You could have it on the road in short order and use it as a summer cruiser while doing the repairs and upkeep it needs at a very reasonable cost.


  1. jim s

    it is sold already. nice find.

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  2. Tirefriar

    I’m sort of on the fence about this one. At first glance it looks like a great deal. Straight panels, complete And running, rebuilt engine and even a 12v conversion. A closer inspection reveals rust in doors and elsewhere, possibly rockers, interior in need of reupholstery, brake system rebuild (could be the wheel cylinders or could be the drums outside the specs or both…). How much would a nice older restored version of this car would cost? I’d venture to say no more than $10k. I can’t see making this car nice for anywhere close to that amount given that there’s possible rust in the rockers which means possible decay of the inner structure…

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  3. Mike

    Neat old car!! My Dad owned one for a few years, one of his I am going to buy this restore it and sell it, he had it for 15 years until he sold it at a car show one day. The funny part about it was the fact I had to drive to Northern Missouri and pick him and Mom up and bring them home. That was the last time that if he took a car to a car show far from home, he trailered it.

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  4. Wayne

    My best friend always dreamed of having a 49 Plymouth convertible as that was the year he graduated from high school. He realized his bream in about 1992 and brought home a basket case in the back of his pick up. It took him 3 years of non stop work to make it a car but he did it! Sadly, he lost his battle with Parkinsons in 2006. I was able to buy the car from his daughter and after several years of enjoyment, it is now on display at the Forney Museum of Transportation in Denver.

    Like 1
    • LES

      That is awesome, it looks great and what a great way to have the car enjoyed for years to come.

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  5. charlie Member

    The convertible and the ’49 wagon were handsome. The rest were “old maid school teacher” cars when I was a kid in the ’50’s. My girlfriend’s father had a ’52 sedan, I was embarrassed to drive it, but proud that he let me take his car and his daughter out when I was 16. He knew how underpowered it was compared to the ’51 Ford I got to use some days, let alone my cousin’s ’54 hemi Dodge, since we talked cars a lot while waiting for the females to be ready to go out.

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  6. Jim Marshall

    These cars never appealed to me even when they came out in 49. The Ford was the one to own and the 49 to 51 Ford’s have become cult classics. My first car in 1956 was a twin to this one.

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    • Jim Norman

      Our family had a copper-colored ’51 Ford convertible, the same year as this green one. I loved everything about that car, except that it was an automatic. It was given to my parents by an aunt in 1961 who had no further use for it when she bought a new Oldsmobile. Back then, people named their cars, and she called the Ford “Henry,” of course. We kept the name the whole time we had it. It finally died of rust. RIP, Henry.

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  7. PaulieB

    I always thought that they looked like rolling piggy banks.. and I saw a lot of these in the late 50s – early 60s..

    Like 0

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