Fastback Survivor: 1951 Dodge Wayfarer

People are funny animals. We all have different ideas of what we like and when it comes to vehicles, all bets are off. You’ll see a big, bearded burly guy driving an electric car and a short-statured person driving a jacked-up damn near monster truck – diesel, of course. I would think that most people would like this 1951 Dodge Wayfarer two-door sedan – or fastback, but who knows. It can be found here on craigslist in Bastrop, Texas with an asking price of $7,995 – cash only.

There is no way to know what vehicle a person will like by looking at them, there just isn’t. I personally love the Dodge Wayfarer, made from 1949 to 1952 and especially like the two-door sedan body style. Of course, it’s hard to argue with the business coupe which may be my favorite, and they also offered a convertible, or roadster as they called it, or sometimes Sportabout which is a much more jaunty name than convertible. Hagerty is at $6,700 for a #3 good condition two-door sedan which this is, so I’m not sure if the seller will get eight-grand for this one or not. Thoughts?

If a person is a fan of patina, it’s hard to not love the look of this car. The seller says that the paint, or what’s left of it, is original other than the rear bumper splash pan and all five wheels. I love the look with the fresh wheel paint myself, but having it look like new again would be nice, too. The trunk lid was touted as being easy to open or close with one finger with the spring-loaded mechanism and it’s a huge storage space.

Unfortunately, the seller uploaded a dozen photos but no engine photos. I can’t blame that on 2020 because it’s been a trend on craigslist for years now. It has Dodge’s 230 cubic-inch inline flathead-six with just over 100 hp and although it has a couple of drips from the oil pan and fuel pump gaskets, it runs great. The interior looks good both front and rear and I’d pop for a new headliner which would really clean things up inside. It has a three-speed manual with a column shifter, which of course is usually referred to as a _____-__-___-____. You know it. I would also add some period-correct seat covers but otherwise, it’s looking fantastic both inside and out for me. The big question is: would you restore it back to original spec, leave it looking as it is now, or restomod this Wayfarer?

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  1. Big_Fun Member

    Deserves to be painted. With that said, drive it until you are ready to have it off the road for paint. Winter is close, so have fun with it now.
    This, on a 50’s auto with that curved body, and the surface rust…this is patina. I can appreciate it the way it is, painted, or restomoded. I just *prefer* paint.

    Like 12
  2. Big_Fun Member

    Oh, and if some type of Hemi is transplanted, that’s fine, too…

    Like 7
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    This one just cries for an upgraded drive train and paint. Would make a great cruiser.

    Like 5
  4. Howard A Member

    Stop it, stop it, STOP IT! No hemis, no LS whachamacallits, okay, maybe an o/d but you aren’t buying a race car here, the flattie got millions of folks to where they wanted to go. Examples like this have got to numbered, and resto-mods are a-plenty, keep it like this. It’ll do 55, and again, you want a car like this, stop making it into something it was never intended, and enjoy the simpler life of 1951,,,if that snarling RAM 6X6 will get off your axx, that is. And may I just say, the column shift, while a PITA,( I think is what Scotty meant to say) was a novel idea at the time. Automatics were still a ways off, and the column shift got the shift lever off the floor, giving more room for the middle passenger. I think it’s great as is, but for Crimney Sakes, Rufus, paint the dang thing!!!

    Like 48
    • phil1 Member

      I agree 1000% with you Howard!!!! Not everything needs to be modded or rodded just restore some so we have ORIGINAL history before there isn’t any left.

      Like 16
    • Phlathead Phil

      Phinally, someone on this site RECOGNIZES the dependability of a PHLATHEAD engine!

      Ah, thank you, thank you ver mutch!

      Like 7
    • Robert Eddins

      I agree. Leave it alone. These must be saved so future kids know about flathead and 3 on a tree. SAVE it.

      Like 5
    • MikeinApplachia

      I would go with a 225 slant six as an upgrade. I had a ’53 Plymouth sedan with the same engine(I think) and OD. Was fine but would like a little more power. The Three-on-the-tree is fine. Nice security feature.

      Like 2
  5. Bear

    Nice car! (y)
    But in MY opinion it has gone beyond “patina” & now needs to be repainted.
    That said, one could opt to prime or flat clear the areas that are now seeing the more severe “surface rust”, but I’d certainly want to do SOMETHING to keep the sheetmetal from degrading any further. Perhaps just apply a rust-converter for the short term??

    Like 6
  6. 370zpp

    Puck the fatina and just paint it!

    Like 17
    • Howard A Member

      Nice work-around,370,, :)

      Like 3
  7. Robert White

    I would go to church with this and implore the Anglican reverend to take pity on me and forgive my poverty and weekly donations so I could afford paint and primer.

    Churches leave their buildings in poor condition so that they can compel their flock to donate to church repairs. Reverends in the Anglican church are notorious for pleading for money from parishioners to fix their run down churches.

    How about my car that needs a paint job, Reverend?


    Like 6
    • Slantasaurus

      First Church of the Faded Paint

      Like 5
      • Phlathead Phil

        How about:

        Phirst Assembly of Faded Patina?

        Primer then paint.

        Like 3
  8. JTHapp

    If this has the OEM stock Flathead 6 cylinder under the hood, there is plenty of new & period speed goodies for those Mopar Flathead Six Bangers… Dual carburetor set ups and cast iron exhaust headers… Why not?


    Like 7
    • BR

      Cams, blueprinting, turbos/blowers too, Don’t forget that these were once race engines. Maybe upgrade to the 265 cu in Chrysler flattie with an overbore.

      • BR

        Better yet, drop in Chrysler’s 413 cu in flathead six. It already comes stock with dual carbs and headers. Balance it!

        Like 1
  9. Bob C.

    Three speed column, Three on the Tree, or Trash on the Dash for the naysayers.

    Like 2
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      HA! Trash on the Dash, I haven’t heard that one before, that’s gold.

      Like 1
      • Phlathead Phil

        I was thinking the same

  10. Ben T.Spanner

    My Father bought a brand new 1951 Dodge Wayfarer convertible off the showroom floor, in December 1950. He was afraid the Korean war would stop auto production, and traded his 1948 Desoto convertible.

    Wayfarers had a shorter wheelbase than the Coronet. The Wayfarer was a true convertible with roll up windows. Previous models had side curtains. There was no rear side window, and no rear seat. A visit to a junk yard produced a bus seat which fit. My Mother upholstered it in semi matching maroon oil cloth. The pictured Wayfarer is pretty fancy with a push button radio and a clock. We had no clock and a two knob radio.

    The Wayfarer convertible was totaled by a red light runner in December of 1955. It was replaced by a 1951 Dodge Coronet Diplomat 2 door hardtop.The wayfarer had 3 speed with fluid drive. The Diplomat had Gyromatic. The Wayfarer was slow, the Diplomat was glacial.

    In January 1956 the Diplomat was joined by a 1955 Desoto Firedome 2 door hardtop, with a Hemi, Powerflyte 2 speed auto, two tone green paint, and white walls. A whole new ballgame.

    Like 5
  11. Joe Haska

    I like this car, probably because, I remember them from when I was growing up, they were different then and not particularly popular, now I would like to have one, because it is different. I have several ideas of what, I would do with this car, none of them would include keeping it original or restoring it. I know that’s not popular on this site.
    Another unpopular idea ,is not worshipping at the alter of the “Flathead”. I have had at least a dozen flathead powered cars for everyday transportation. That includes many early flathead Fords from stock to state of the art builds. I have also had Chrysler and even Packard flatheads and they were all great and allot of fun ,for what they were designed for.
    However, when I read the comments of many of the readers expounding on how great, fun and dependable these FH’s are, my first question is have you ever owned one and how much did you drive it and when. I absolutely love early Ford V-8’s, but they have a time and place.

    Like 2
    • Phlathead Phil

      Yes. The Flathead was what made a “Hot Rod” a Hot Rod. There is loads of H.P. just waiting to be tapped. Plenty of torque too! But yes, they had their day. I got one in strip down and build up that’s going into my “A” Roadster.

      H.F. was a mechanical genius. He built a working engine while just a lad without help. His genius helped bring us and the world into a modern age.

      His idea of a V-8 was brilliant beyond words.

      The GM dudes just took his idea one step pharther!!!

  12. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    “_____-__-___-____. You know it.”
    What? No, I don’t know it. Like Joe Haska, I grew up with these cars, and never had a problem shifting any of them, other than those vehicles that might have possibly been damaged somehow, but don’t remember any. At that time, people were not speed-shifting their cars, because we all knew that it didn’t make any difference in our arrival time. Even on a dragstip, speed-shifting any car even remotely resembling this one, would not make a discernable difference. Unlike Joe, I do not remember having any trouble as far as dependibility goes, and I drove just about anything around at that time, but it was a farming community, not too many people had multiple vehicles, so everyone kept their vehicles maintained. Joe may have just had a bit of continuing bad luck.

    Like 1
  13. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    Where did all those sun visors go? Forgot to say: great car, in great shape, but cannot see if its got the blue lights in the windshield. It’s just as well that the border is closed, ’cause I’ve already got a car stuck in Texas.

  14. DON

    Its a great car , but the worn paint looks like its just another forgotten junker sitting in a Kansas field – PAINT IT !

    Like 1
  15. Joe Haska

    Fast Eddie, I didn’t mean to imply the cars were un-reliable, though They certainly are not like today. 50K miles on a car in the late 40’s and early 50’s was allot, today with recommended oil changes 200K is not the end of the world. My point was everybody thinks that driving an older car with a flathead isn’t a big deal, there memory’s are either bad or they never did it.
    If you like airplanes think of this, which would be the easiest, a new single engine turbo with retractable gear a glass panel with tons of avionics or an 60’s era 172 in good condition. I know that’s not fair, but neither is acting like driving around an old car is with a flathead, is just as easy as one with newer mechanics.
    Its funny me making this argument because, I drive old cars, I have a 34 Coupe and a 53 F100 P/U and neither one of them has a flathead and as nice as they are and I think they are, when I see a neighbor in a brand new GMC P/U, top of the line , I realize I am not driving a new car, maybe more fun , but not the same.
    I need to stop, what we have here is a chicken and egg problem, which came first

    engine turbo

  16. moosie moosie Member

    This car is screaming to be painted and it deserves it, paint it and drive it or paint it and drive it with a warmed up (HYPER-PAK) 225″ slant 6 with a 5 speed but definitely paint it,,,,PLEASE. @ Joe Haska, I was the happy owner of a ’40 Ford Tudor Sedan Deluxe ,from 1995 to 2017, all stock except for 15″ radials and conversion to 12 volts with an alternator. Traveled many miles on the interstates going to car shows, one memorable trip from upstate New York to Columbus Ohio, it kept up with traffic with no problems except for when it rained those dam vacuum wipers made it a horror show.

  17. Joe Haska

    Moosie, I had a 40 std tudor , stock running gear, with a mint 265 chevy in it , no bells and whistles just a nice clean 40 ford, that sat real low. I drove it daily plus ,I drove it from Denver Pomona Ca. straight through and back by myself. This was less than 5 years ago.
    I am sorry I started this, I am just trying to say driving old cars with older engines and mechanics, can be a challenge and not everyone can do it, and I think allot of people, that talk about how great it is, haven’t really experienced it, good or bad.

  18. P. Wentzell

    Regardless of drive train – I’ve never liked the purty painted wheels set off by the whitewalls, only to look up at the car and see “patina” (most of it looking forced). It says “I don’t care” or “I ran out of money, but, PATINA!” Paint. The. Car.

    Like 1
  19. Dick Romm

    The Wayfarers had a fluid coupling in front of the 3 Spd transmission. You could pop the clutch with the car standing still and it won’t stall. You literally could start out in 3rd gear if you wanted, although you’d need a calendar instead of a stopwatch getting up to speed. But that coupling was very easy on the drive train and rear end.

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