Deluxe Style: 1938 Plymouth Five-Window Coupe

After the long tail of the Great Depression whipped through our economy, a recovery spurred auto sales starting in about 1935. But then Roosevelt hiked taxes and back into a recession we slid three years later. Plymouth, after selling well over half a million cars in 1937, saw its fortunes turn: sales were half that number in 1938. Tight budgets were one thing, but Plymouth’s styling was also not inspiring, with very little change from 1937. By this time Ford was fairing its headlights into fenders, but Plymouth kept its bug-eyed lights affixed to the radiator shell. The grille was a rounded version of the ’37’s flat vertical slats, lending a “dumpling” look to the front end. But the lower edge of the windows lined up with the top of hood, which lined up with the top of the trunk, balancing the body. Today, the car’s features have aged well, leaving the seller of this 1938 five-window Plymouth coupe listed here on craigslist in a position to find a buyer for $13,900. The car is located in Southington, Connecticut. We have T.J. to thank for this fine tip!

This seller does not sugarcoat his car’s problems – a refreshing change from others who seem to think rusty hulks are in “excellent” condition. He calls this interior “fair” and mentions that it’s original. I’ve seen worse on much newer cars! Ok, the pedals are worn and we don’t know how the rubber flooring looks under the driving mats, and the bench seat has tears on both sides, but if this is original, someone was a good caretaker. The odometer reads just over 82,000 miles. Plymouth advertised its interiors as “Safety Styled”, highlighting recessed switches, door and window handles curved towards the door panels to prevent snagging clothing, and tempered glass.

The engine is a 201 cu. in. in-line six-cylinder making about 82 bhp. A three-speed manual floor shift was standard. The car was comfortable at 60 mph but not much above that. The seller indicates this is the original engine, and that while it turns over, it has not been started in about eight years. Apparently, the old gas is still in the tank; that should be flushed.

The seller says the coupe’s body and paint are great. The rear view gives the impression that the car is moving even while parked. Five-window coupes are hard to find; we found only one comparable for sale in an undated ad, making this one look like a bit of a bargain. What do you think of this price?


  1. Grant

    Super nice, though I have always liked the looks and practicality of the four doors better. The L Head six was one of the greatest things to ever come out of Chrysler. Only gave up the ghost to the legendary slant six. (though was used in some trucks for almost a decade later as well). That is how good it was. I bet it would be little trouble to get her to purr like a kitten once again.

    Like 4
  2. art

    I do believe this is the same year and model of car driven by Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra.

    Like 4
    • tiger66

      Correct, though a ’37 was used for some scenes. Bogie drove the same ’38 in “The Big Sleep.” The ’37 was (and maybe still is) on display at a museum in Lone Pine, CA.

      Like 3
    • mike D

      I agree aka mad dog roy earle

    • Ffred

      Bogart always drove Plymouths. Back then they were sold as the working man’s car and Americans bought in to the idea. Probably way he drove them.

  3. Greg B Greg B Member

    That would make a great Winter project.

    Like 2
  4. Tbone

    Art and Tiger: thought I was the only one to think of Bogart when I see these. Kind of a favorite car of mine. Plus the fact that it was a Plymouth “coo-pay”

    Like 1
  5. bone

    It wasn’t just Chrysler that had the pod mounted headlights in 37 and 38 , GM, and many other brands did as well . And in typical sheep fashion , people bought more Fords then other makes, even though they weren’t as good .

    Like 4
    • Mike G.

      On what do you base your last (somewhat asinine) statement on?

      Like 1
  6. Tommy

    That’s actually because the Fords were cheaper than the Plymouth’s so they only got what they paid for

    Like 4
    • Joe Bru

      true fords cheaper but folks also wanted a V-8!

  7. john Douglas muldoon

    My brother is currently restoring a 38 Canadian version. I hope it turns out as well as what is shown and sure it will! The motor in his is the 223 version truck due to engine production output.


    This car compared to the comp they pulled up in Canada for just under $26000…to me…makes the one in Canada a bargain. I don’t think $12000 would get this one looking as good as the Canada car.

  9. George Birth

    Nice looking car which should not take too much to restore it. Compared to others this one’s not too shabby.

    Like 1
  10. john Douglas muldoon

    If you have a zoom feature in your internet, it is not hard to visualize a lot of restoration required. I will say that this has good bones to start with but is going to need a lot of parts refurbished befire it is a class act again.

  11. Steve

    I restored a 37 in the 80s in the bay area when before retirement was a welder by trade. I dropped in all Mopar 318 4 speed 9 inch rear end. For the most part Left stock. but I DID NOT cut or weld anything so as to leave possibility for someone else to restore original. took it too 100 mph and was a daily driver. Lots of fun !

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