Container Find: 1931 Plymouth Sport Roadster

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I have to tell you that I’m getting maxed out on Model A’s. There are many, many still in existence, and they get a lot of coverage here on Barn Finds. I enjoy learning about them but there are plenty of other cars to review from that era too. And that means a Chevrolet. Yeah, there are plenty of those too, though not in the same kind of numbers as Edsel’s Model T successor. But wait, what about the big three? That’s right, let’s not forget Plymouth. How often do you find an early ’30s Plymouth? By my accounting, and I review a heck of a lot of cars, not very often. Time to change that up and we’ll do it with this 1931 Plymouth Sport Roadster. It is located in Orange, California and available, here on craigslist for  $13,500. Thanks to Ikey H. for this rare find!

Plymouth came about in 1928 as Chrysler’s entry-level competitor to Ford and Chevrolet. And, it was fortuitous that Plymouth arrived when it did with the great depression right around the corner. Having a low-price model in their line-up helped Chrysler weather the economic storm. Plymouth’s sold well, in 1931 its sales surpassed 100K units putting the marque in third place. Of that total, about 2,600 were Sport Roadster models. Unfortunately, few from that era seem to have survived.

The seller states that this Plymouth was stored in a shipping container for 30 years and has just emerged from what would be considered an extensive period of demurrage. There’s not a lot of listing detail but the images are fairly comprehensive. The body is intact and in surprisingly good condition, the container must have been well sealed and stored in an accomodating environment. The bumpers, lights, trim, side-mounted spare tires, and running boards are all in place. The only rust present is mild and surface in nature, there is no rot-through evident with the floors, frame, or body panels. It looks like a folding top frame is in place but the fabric cover appears to be long gone.

The long-dormant powerplant is a 56 HP, 196 CI, in-line, four-cylinder engine. Minus the degraded radiator hoses and absent the missing driveshaft, which connects to a three-speed manual transmission, the necessary parts look like they’re all there. Assuming the motor isn’t seized, it’s probably going to take a lot of coaxing to return this motor to running condition.

Interiors of cars from these years, roadsters, in particular, don’t leave much to the imagination. There’s just not enough complexity and this Plymouth is no exception. The seat has been reduced to its spring frame but the instrument panel is still in place and the gauges show as passable. There is some light surface rust across the dash but the floors look solid. As for the rumble seat compartment, there is no included image.

My first thought was maybe this ’31 Plymouth was the original Roadrunner. It’s a sporty body style, suitably subdued, and it retailed for only $595. Of course, you’re not going to get into too much trouble with a 56 HP four-holer under the hood. I’m just thrilled to find a non-Model A from an era dominated by Ford. This Plymouth is a nice find but the price is not encouraging. As many of you have commented on the various Model A articles, the demand for cars from the ’30s is diminishing. Considering this price point, do you think this Plymouth Sport Roadster will find a new home?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. stillrunners

    Better sale it quick – VanDerBrink is auctioning off this weekend a bunch of restored 1930/31/32 Plymouth Roadsters.

    Like 7
  2. Jeff

    The nice, Its a Roadster that appears to be very complete.
    The unfortunate, high retail on 31 Roadster is only $32,000.
    I am not sure a complete DIY restoration can be done on this for $15K

    Like 5
    • Lowell Peterson

      Restoration is not a profit driven deal. If thats your goal find finished one. That is gonna be very difficult on this model.

      Like 1
  3. Jack Hammer

    Just lube the suspension and go through the engine and drive it.

    Like 5
  4. Huntley Hennessy

    Plymouth had the advantage over Ford with hydraulic brakes. The driveshaft may be an issue with the ball and trunion style of universal joints. Still, it would be a great car to enjoy when the refurbishment is complete. Starting price is a bit high for a car that is not worth a lot restored.

    Like 4
    • PeterfromOz

      Years ago I was looking at a Bell helicopter on a trailer and noted the shaft that drove the rear stabillizing propeller had the same ball & trunion univeral joints.

      Like 2
      • Paolo

        Nothing wrong with Ball and trunnion, it’s a robust design. Mopar used it through 1965

        Like 0
  5. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Memories is about all I have left these days. As a lad living a rural life in Northern California there was a 32 Plymouth 4 door touring car parked in a neighbor’s yard a mile or so down the road. As an enquiring young car enthusiast, I had to check it out and ask questions of the owner. I was amazed it had a factory installed radio in the dash. The lady at the house told me it belonged to her son who now lived in Chicago as a lawyer. She said he planned to return someday to restore the Plymouth, but ofcourse that never happened. I left the area in January 1964 and the car was still sitting there, when I returned in the summer 1967 the people had moved and the car was gone. Reminiscing is an old mans way of life.
    God bless America

    Like 7
  6. Solosolo UK ken tilly UKMember

    I am not a fan of Model A Fords, not because they are a great car, and they are, but because they are like backsides, everybody has one! So when I visited San Francisco back in 1989 there was a fellow embroidering “T” shirts with anything that you liked. My like read “I would rather push a Chev than drive a Model A.” I wore it to my local club many times just to shut the “A” boys up for 5 minutes or so. From that day on they never spoke to me again about Model A’s especially as I then acquired a 1932 Chev Confederate Phaeton which no model A was ever going to stay with..

    Like 3
    • Newt

      You must not have many friends.

      Like 5
      • Solosolo UK ken tilly UKMember

        I have lots of friends, but most don’t own Model A’s.

        Like 0
  7. Jim Benjaminson

    Vehicle has been withdrawn off Craig’s List. Maybe waiting to see what kind of prices the Adair car’s bring.

    Like 0
  8. Lowell Peterson

    Restoration is not a profit driven deal. If thats your goal find finished one. That is gonna be very difficult on this model.

    Like 0
  9. Lowell Peterson

    These old cars are done for passion not profit. You rarely if ever will see one of these at the local car gathering. Its a great candidate and thd price is very fair in my opinion.

    Like 0
  10. PeterfromOz

    Does anyone know if both the PA (1931) and all PB models 4-cylinder (1932) had a vacuum advance system on the distributor? Thanks.

    Like 0
  11. bob medina

    Is the 31 plymouth pa roadster still for sale? If so i am interested,need info.thanks

    Like 0

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