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Grand Pa’s Barn Find: 1931 Plymouth Roadster

This 1931 Plymouth DeLuxe is about as an “all-in-the-family” example as you’ll find. The car was purchased new, 92 years ago by the seller’s grandfather and now after a lengthy barn stay, it’s time for this roadster to say “so long!” and head off for a new adventure, and hopefully a rebirth. Located in Copake Falls, New York, this barn-bound Plymouth is available, here on craigslist for $6,000. Thanks to T.J. for this tip!

The listing for this car references it as a coupe but it’s obviously a roadster, one of about 4,400 assembled in ’31 according to the Classic Car Database. My guess is that it’s a “30 U Series” model but it could be a “PA” too which was introduced in ’31. Body styles abounded with two and four-door sedans, coupes, and roadsters. Plymouth came in sixth place in the ’31 production race with 75K copies. As a reference, number one Chevrolet managed 619K copies, a big gap between sixth and first place no doubt, but everything was tempered by the ongoing economic depression.

Apparently, no one in the family was interested in taking this car on, so it was parked in a friend’s barn for years. Why it’s for sale now, is unknown but it sounds as if the friend wants it moved. The images aren’t the best, but what’s visible looks solid and complete body-wise, but the finish is seriously peeling. I’m not seeing signs of rust-through, crash damage, or missing parts so it seems like a sound specimen for a redo.

There are no engine images included but research indicates that it should be a 48 HP, 196 CI, in-line four-cylinder engine driving a three-speed manual transmission. The seller claims, “The engine is in fairly good condition” but I don’t know how that can be known, or claimed, without images and an attempt to, at least, hand crank it. The odometer reads 1,000, so that’s not really helpful in determining the engine’s use and potential condition. Whether it will be a useful powerplant going forward, or not, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it substituted for something more sporting.

There’s one image of the interior, and none of the rumble seat compartment, and that one is not very revealing. What can be seen is rusty and dusty though the instrument panel, at least, appears to be complete. The seat looks like it’s perched cattywampus but the image is vague and the seller makes no mention of the interior’s current state.

OK, yes it’s neat because it’s complete but the Grandpa story isn’t very compelling – if any family members cared about this car, it probably wouldn’t be in this current state. Having sold it to someone long ago, who really wanted it and would have done something meaningful with it would have been a better way to go. And… it’s not the usually found ’30s vintage Ford or the slightly less often discovered Chevy, so it gets points for that. Next stop? I’d put my money on a hotrod conversion, how about you?


  1. Wayne from Oz

    They’re only original once. Hope someone restores it, unmodified.

    Like 48
    • TomP

      I agree. Go destroy a junkyard car.

      Like 23
    • Gwood

      agree, this one should be cared for as was original… seriously considering this car

      Like 18
  2. Darryl T

    Not a roadster. Cabriolet or convertible due to roll up door windows and solid windshield frame. Cool unusual car.

    Like 22
  3. Walter

    If I were to modify it I would try to be different about it. Definitely not a SBC. Probably not a V8 at all. Maybe a Slant 6? They can be powerful enough. That and modern brakes.

    Like 11
  4. dogwater

    Sorry days gone by not worth restoring kids today don’t want it the cost to restore is going to be 30k +if you did some of the work.

    Like 4
  5. Kurt Member

    Is there an ash frame inside that body? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Like 2
  6. Terry J

    Yup, Dogwater is correct. A restoration that you have to pay for it makes little sense in round $$ figures especially since it will not be in honor of the new owner’s beloved Grandpa so money is more of a factor. Hot rodding has saved way more old cars than restoring esp. since it is often an amateur owner that can apply the labor of love to get it on the road to fairly safe and modern driving standards and then on to smaller car shows or rod runs here and there. Also these days expensive paint and upholstery are not at all required. PLEEZE, no small block Chevys. Keep it Mopar. :-) Terry J

    Like 5
  7. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    Presented here for your perusal a 1931 Plymouth, not quite Twilight Zone status, but unusual just the same. After a buyer purchase this car and begins the tedious and labor intensive job of making it their dream car they might just find the bank account seriously drained, their spousal arrangement in constant threat of ending and their state of mind somewhere in outer space; perhaps The Twilight Zone.

    God Bless America

    Like 6
  8. Ian MacKay

    Well dont complain about the cost to restore . If you
    cant afford to restore it dont buy it. If you can afford it ,this car is absolutley worth saving or a mild resto-rod.

    Like 13
  9. Robert White

    This car should just be allowed to collect more dust without
    anyone giving it a cleaning. It should be kept as a relic of
    the early car era and not restored or even dusted off.

    I’d park it in my man cave as a decorator piece and leave
    it alone just as it is right now.

    Restorations are not the be all and end all of the car era.

    Sometimes artifacts should be unrestored.


    Like 9
  10. Kevin O'Neill Member

    I had a 1932 PB Cabriolet.
    Had to make it out of pieces as the good news and bad news was “they are rare so very hard to find parts.
    Since it was a frankincar I hot rodded it and installed a modern Hemi which still fit inside the un-modified hood, that is how much room I had to work with.
    When parked next to a “32 ford, the Plymouth was much larger in all 3 axis.
    If it were closer and I was younger it would be an easy buy for me.

    Like 6
  11. Gtoforever

    Would be nice to see it brought back to its stock glory, but as dogwater accurately pointed out the youth of America has other interests, sorry to say.
    Costs of supplies along with lack of interest in the marketplace make it a pass for me.

    Like 1
  12. Russ Ashley

    The ad says $6000. If you want it for that you had better buy it now because you might see it on Ebay before long with a bid at least twice that much. I’d love to have it and about twenty five less years on my age number. As we used to recommend to beginners in the old car hobby: Make it go, make it stop, drive it, and whatever you do, don’t take it all apart.

    Like 7
    • Kurt Member

      Amen. Some of the parts disintegrate when taken apart and unless you video the whole process it’s hard to remember how things went together. If I was restoring a super rare and expensive car things might be different but that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon!

      Like 1
  13. Pete Phillips

    Who says you have to restore it? Save your $30,000+ and just get it running and reliable and enjoy a very rarely seen car as-is! Won’t this one have hydraulic brakes from the factory? Run it just like it is and enjoy the crowds it will attract!

    Like 4
  14. Jay E. Member

    Some years ago I looked at a car that was just like this one. In fact it might be this one. It was $2000.00 then and I really gave it some thought. I found it was very hard to find parts, so it was going to be a long job. Farming out the work was an eye opener as shops charged more for the older cars than the cookie cutter jobs rolling in all day. It was lumped into the Model A mentality on value and that wasnt much. In the end it made no sense and I passed. Same logic still applies. I’m not sure that hot rodding it is even an option anymore as the desire for them is dying off as well.

    Like 1
  15. Terry J

    Dogwater: “kids today don’t want it”. As a geezer I decided it was time to clean up my shed/shop so I took a lot of my quality extra tools/equipment to a local used tool and 2nd hand guy stuff store. It was all basic stuff that anybody would need to set up a shade tree garage. The store didn’t want any of it. He said “A lot of the old timers are thinning out their inventory but the young generations coming up don’t want it. If they want to learn something they ask their cell phone and few of them get their hands dirty”. Shocking truth sad to say. :-( Terry J

    Like 1

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