Kansas Barn Find: 1939 Plymouth

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The Plymouth brand was developed by Chrysler in 1928 to represent them in the “low-priced” market dominated at the time by Chevrolet and Ford. The timing was fortuitous as the presence of Plymouth helped Chrysler survive the Great Depression while other makes did not. This 1939 Plymouth 2-door sedan, series unknown, is said to have been pulled out of a barn in Kansas, where it was for many years. Located now under a partial cover in Gilbert, Arizona, the car will need a complete restoration. It’s available here on craigslist for $5,000. Thanks for the tip, craiger!

During its 73 years on the market, Plymouth would be the volume-selling car in the Chrysler fold. In the 1930s, Plymouth automobiles didn’t have their own dealer network yet, instead were sold everywhere a Chrysler, Dodge, and DeSoto could be purchased. For 1939, Plymouth cars were totally restyled and were available in three series. There was the P7 Road King, P8 Deluxe, and the PT81 Commercial Car, which were differentiated by wheelbase length. We’re not sure which series the seller’s auto represents, but it would be one of more than 417,000 cars Plymouth produced in 1939.

This project car is said to have a six-cylinder under the hood, and a fair guess would be it’s a 201 cubic-inch flathead-six that produced 70 horsepower when it was new. As was standard fare in the day, the transmission was a “3-on-the-tree” manual shifter. It’s unlikely this car has moved under its own power in a long time. The mileage is unknown, the odometer is broken, and the title is missing.

While the paint is long past its prime, the body may be in okay shape, but the photos don’t help in that area and the seller doesn’t bring it up. Without knowing the model, estimating resale value is a bit iffy. If this is a Road King, top dollar according to Hagerty is $18,000, with Fair at under $4,000. Given that the title will have to be sorted out, perhaps the seller will be approachable about the asking price.

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  1. Gary

    A guy I knew let me drive his 38 Plymouth when I was just a kid. 14 years old, not able to legally drive, yet the back roads allowed me to do just that, and so did he. Great memories of that car, wish I could have another like it today. I can still hear the sound that old flathead made. That car started my fondness for Chrysler products that lasted many years until the like ability of them faded and I had to move on. I hope someone has the funds to properly restore this back to stock, but I imagine that will never happen. It will have its wonderful engine ripped from it and something, so alien, replacing it. I guess us old boys are no longer the market for this sort of thing, I understand that, but it still makes me sad.

    Like 25
  2. DavidH

    My connection to a very similar car would be through my dad. When dad was a young man and a ‘39 Plymouth was still fairly new to the road he was prevented from going completely off the road and into the woods by a very large boulder next to the road. Fortunately dad survived that off-road experience with minimum damage and I am here today to tell how my dad discovered Plymouth Rock.

    Like 13
  3. Sam61

    Neat car. I like the headlight bezels. Not to sound too whacky….keep it stock looking with a nice interior, disc brakes and some sort of straight 6 (older Jeep 4.0 or a 225 slant 6?). $2,500

    Like 3
  4. Rick in Oregon Rick in Oregon

    These are very pleasant drivers when sorted. I was lucky enough to get my fathers 1939 Chrysler Imperial a couple years ago and we take it out on sunny summer days. Although it has the 324 straight eight so a bit more power and overdrive it is a pleasure to drive and always a hit with my local Chrysler club meets.

    Like 5
  5. bobH

    My limited experience with one of these, recently bought, made drivable, enjoyed for awhile, then sold, is that the market locally, is much lower than the asking price. I grew up with my parents having a 37. And, more recently, I’ve had a couple of the 37-39 era. Fine cars, for the era. Not Ford fast, but much better built.

    Like 5
  6. PK

    The 39 Plymouth was the first 3 on on the tree. The last was the 79 Nova.

    Like 2
    • Dennis Hardiman

      I had a 79 and 82 GM pickup back in the day with both the 3 on the tree option. Both forever had problems with gears crossing till I jerked them out for a turbo 350 trans.

      Like 0
  7. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I’m not a big fan of Mopar, but my dad was through the 30’s and 40’s. When I was a whipper snapper in the early 50’s the family car was a huge 1939 7 passenger Dodge sedan that my dad bought in 1940 in Oklahoma drove to Utah in 1942, then to Washington state in 1949, then to California in 1951 and finally retired the old car in 1954. It was black and I remember it being so hot in the summer and so cold in the winters. It had a heater but it was a box under the dash floorboard on the passenger side with two little doors that opened to let heat out. It always made my step Mom’s feet too hot while the rest of us froze. Good times.

    Like 2

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