Off the Road Since Truman: 1936 Dodge Tudor

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It was the year the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” debuted.  The first color television signal was broadcast from the Empire State Building, and the show “I Love Lucy” hit TV for the first time.  Harry Truman was also in his second term after Dewey “defeated” him in the newspapers.  It was also this year that the car you see here was last on the road.  If you are looking for a project with the freedom to make it into what you want, our friend T.J. has found the perfect car for you.  Take a look at this 1935 Dodge Tudor sedan for sale on Craigslist in quaint Glen Rose, Texas.  At a low $3,200, this rough but complete Dodge offers the buyer a chance to make it what you want without limits.  Would you restore it?  Turn it into a street rod?  Maybe even convert it to an electric car?

Sad to say, but interest in all but the most collectible prewar cars is on the wane.  The folks that grew up with these vehicles are leaving us.  While many older restorations are being dropped onto the market daily for prices that are a relative steal compared to a decade ago, unrestored cars are a tougher sell.  Even if the car is solid and complete, the costs associated with a frame-off restoration are staggering.  Engine rebuilds can run north of $10,000, a full paint job for $5,000 is common in some areas even if it is just a simple refinishing, and the cost of a new interior is in the thousands as well.  Let’s not even get started on the chrome plating.

So, what is the right approach when a car pops up like this 1935 Dodge?  A full restoration would run north of $20,000 if the labor were free and the car was brought to AACA Senior Award standards.  The problem is that the restorer would never get their money back out of the car if they needed to sell it.  If the car were restored to use and enjoy, then that would be a fine expenditure.  To fully participate in many hobbies today you will spend that and more.  It is just that there aren’t a lot of folks out there that go to bed dreaming of 1935 Dodges anymore.

So, the next option would be to convert the car into a street rod.  If one were frugal and decided to do a mild street rod using the existing body and frame, then you could probably get this one back on the road for less than the previously mentioned $20,000.  Assuming, of course, that the labor was free.  The problem lies in the fact that most people who want a street rod don’t want to build a mild car with a used drivetrain.  Everyone wants a frame swap, a chopped roof, and the latest crate motor goodness.  That is where the project gets expensive and you get to be on a first-name basis with the FedEx guy.  These projects also tend to stall out and never get finished.

There is a third option.  Most restorers start in the hobby with little or no experience in actually restoring or modifying a vehicle.  They tend to be the person who changes their oil and maybe installs an alternator on occasion.  If they want to gain experience and build knowledge on how to repair and restore vehicles correctly, then this 1935 Dodge is the four-wheel automotive version of training wheels.  To get this car in better shape, you are going to need knowledge of tools and how to use them, a talent for not letting rust impede your progress, and the patience and diligence to disassemble, label, and refurbish the car piece by piece.  By using the Johnny Cash “one piece at a time”  method, you could make a big difference in this car’s appearance over time.

All the pieces are there to do that according to the seller.  While the car was last tagged and driven in 1951, it has been in the current owner’s possession since 1973.  Since it was purchased, the car has lived in a covered shed waiting for a restoration that never materialized.  The rust you see is advertised as surface rust.  That is an extensive amount of surface rust, but the seller tells us that it hasn’t rusted through anywhere.  A modern high-build primer should help smooth out any rough body panels.

While a car like this one is a hard sell, the opportunity for someone to purchase it at a low price and work on it as time and finances allow is there.  It takes time and practice to be good at the various skills required by restoring or hot-rodding a vehicle.  Why not use this car as a first step towards enjoying the hobby on a deeper level?

Do you think this car is a good first step in the hobby?  Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    This and the Road Runner convertible could run off a lot of folks wanting to buy and restore a car.

    Like 3
  2. Maggy

    Convert to an electric car? And folks that like these prewar cars are dying is basically what the author means.Yeah they probably are but I got some more years left on this rock and I like em.Wow Jeff trying to shove us old school petrol heads in a coffin.I hope your Tesla needs a 20k battery in a few years.Lithium batteries are for cell phones not cars.Just wait when you millenials and gen zer’s have polluted the planet horribly with your electric cars that China rakes billions in on from lithium mining that is extremely destructive to the environment from cradle to grave.I know I went on a little rant but you started it and you touched a nerve at least with me.

    Like 39
    • Grant

      Like it or not, it is coming. The EPA says 70% of new vehicles by 2032 need to be 100% electric. How soon before you no longer can afford petrol to run your car? Electric just may be the way to go here. Myself, I would like to see the original engine back up and running. Those engines were stout, shouldn’t be a problem, and a lot cheaper than any other silliness many here have in mind.

      Like 7
      • Rico

        That’s the current administration’s EPA. Once someone with a functioning brain gets into the White House, I’m sure all the “electric, electric, electric” hubbub will die down.
        I recently read an article that says that IF, like these climate weirdos are talking that all the vehicles on the road have to be electric, there’s no way that the USA can put up enough solar panels and wind turbines to charge them all. The article was talking about covering every available square inch of the continent with them.
        Here’s a little reminder for you in case you forgot; California has approximately 10% of the vehicles in the state are electric, a point that gavin nuisance proudly proclaims, but last summer he was on television literally begging people NOT to charge their electric cars because the grid can’t handle the load.
        And that’s at 10%. What would it be like with 25% or 50%.
        Perhaps, just perhaps, had the electric grid been updated before the demand that electric cars and stoves, remember that they want to outlaw gas stoves, too, will place on it, increasing the total number of electric vehicles wouldn’t be such a stupid idea.
        The supporters of this current administration have neither facts or logic to support their stands on every topic they support. What they do have is volume, and nothing else.

        Like 24
      • Harry

        Rico, beautifully said! I concur on every point.

        Like 3
    • John EderMember

      Perhaps you should have your lithium levels checked…I hear that it helps with rants 😉

      Like 10
      • Harry

        Glad that you find support with pharmaceuticals John. But be careful making recommendations to others based on your success with those therapies. 🙂

        Like 3
      • John EderMember

        @ Harry

        Lithium saved a close VN veteran friend of mind who was suicidal. While I was joking initially (therefore the emoji), mental health is no joke, veteran or otherwise.

        Like 1
    • Terrry

      Not to mention, where is all this “free” electricity going to come from? Coal-burning power plants? Can’t have those..”too dirty”. Nuclear plants? Can’t have those either. ‘Unsafe”.Gee. somehow I get the feeling we are being legislated into a very-limited-transportation corner.

      Like 27
      • 67Firebird_Cvt 67Firebird_CvtMember

        If the government is demanding it or offering incentives for its not going to work. Remember CFL light bulbs?

        Like 3
      • Pgh Bill


        Like 2
  3. RJ

    Great Truman reference. Harry actually preferred Dodges and Chryslers.

    Like 5
  4. John EderMember

    Posting rules- no politics. Thanks.

    Like 15
    • MGSteve

      Thank you. One more post like that (Rico), and I’m done here. There’s plenty of that in our daily lives, I don’t need it here too. Administrators . . . please do your due diligence. Thank you.

      Like 1
  5. stillrunners

    And sold………

    Like 2
  6. Terrry

    If I got this car, I’d get the existing mechanicals working again, strip the body and paint it and use the car as a driver. Guaranteed, the only person in town to have a ’35 Dodge!

    Like 10
  7. Dave

    I like the electric angle, but I’d just do like always and swap in a V8 overdrive, and ditch that chassis, but keep artillery wheels on it. Paint schmaint, looks fine to me.

    Like 0
    • Kenneth Carney

      Sorry John, got a little carried away. All these new rules and mandates drive me up a tree! Like all of us here, I recall
      a time when a car guy or gal could buy a pretty nice old car
      for maybe $25 or $50, haul it home, break out the wrenches
      and torches, and breathe new life into that weathered old
      hulk you dragged home. If you think about it, we were the
      ultimate recyclers who turned someone’s trash into your
      own treasure. Sad to see it all going away.

      Like 14
  8. PJSpooner

    Very insightful and informative article. Nice job. The car has cool lines and I hope someone “sees” it.

    Like 6
  9. Jim Mulhauser

    I sure would like that horn if you want to part with it.

    Like 0
  10. TheOldRanger

    I like this car, too bad it was allowed to get to this state of affairs. Glen Rose Tx is a nice little town, and I’m sure this offering was probably due to a younger set of relatives convincing the “old folks” to do something with it. It will take some money to fix this up and time as well, but to the right person, it will be right up their alley.

    Like 3
  11. Tom

    This is a classic that deserves to be back on the road. I’d love to be the one to do that! I have one more bay in my garage that this would fit nicely in. Just too many projects on my plate (and a wife that doesn’t see my love for cars as a worthwhile hobby) that keep me from making the trip to Texas. Someone please give this Dodge the justice it deserves. Awesome opportunity to own a pre-war car with stunning lines.

    Like 3
  12. DuesenbergDino

    Glen Rose is right down the road from me. Dinosaur fossils and the Safari wildlife center are pretty awesome places to visit.

    Like 1
  13. Tom

    Restore to original is my advice. Getting to where you live, unless it’s Texas, will cost you, as Texas is halfway across the country unless you live there or in Oklahoma.

    Like 1
  14. George Birth

    Don’t think you can bring it to Fl. and be free of legislation. Fl’s Governor wants to turn Fl. into the “DeSantis State”. Disagree with him and he’ll legislate you out of business. Look at what he is doing with Disney. Other than that nice write up on this one.

    Like 2
  15. TheOldRanger

    RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.
    What part of “no politics” do you not understand? This site is primarily about motorized vehicles.

    Like 12
  16. OldCarGuy

    K Carney, I’m not sure, but it seems to me that I read, somewhere, that ICE vehicles had to conform to emission rules that were in place at the time of manufacture. Can anyone confirm? Great lines on this old bird, and I’d like to kick the guy that invented chop jobs. Wouldn’t take a free chopped car, or even ride in one. 10 – 15 years ago, 3 old rodders, on their way home from a big car show in Oshawa,Ontario, had a minor highway collision with a Greyhound bus, spun off the highway, caught fire, doors were jammed, their car was severely chopped, and they died.

    Best radio show ever was a talk show with no program, you could call in and completely change the discussion, and was it ever lively! I still miss you, John Michael. My point, Old Ranger, is that we don’t need to be hard-assed about this, do we? I always thought the “no politics” rule meant “let’s not get silly with arguments”, and I’m comfortable with the lines always being a little flexible.

    Like 6
  17. bobH

    Whew…. the politics police are out. Anyway, I just made an attempt to ‘go-for-it’, and it is deleted on CL. I assume that means it’s gone. In my view, cool ride for someone.

    Like 2
  18. Blake Young

    Politics aside, your numbers for restoration are highly optimistic. A $5000 paint job around here isn’t good enough for a work truck, and the cars that come through my shop regularly break over the $15k mark for body and paint. You can save money doing it yourself, but there are tools, supplies, and experience to buy that make it difficult for the youngster to get into the hobby.

    Like 2
    • bobH

      Blake, with respect, and no offense to your opinion on paint and body work. On the other hand, some of us make do with significantly less, when it comes to paint. I recently painted a small car with one quart of rustoleum, for twenty bucks. Looks plenty good to me. This Dodge, bigger, might take two quarts, forty bucks. Not all of us need the fancy version.

      Like 0
  19. duaney

    The engine rebuild over $10,000 is not correct. A complete rebuild kit for this engine would only be $800-$1200, all machine shop work should be under $1000, all would cost less if the owner did some work. I just did bumpers for two cars at an El Paso shop, this car would run under $1500.

    Like 5
  20. montagna_lunga

    Fruitcake thread. Seller deleted the CL ad.

    Like 0
  21. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

    Why is getting your money back so important?
    Whatever happened to the love of the hobby? The love of the cars?
    Saving them, restoring them for future generations?
    That’s what’s wrong with the hobby now. Everyone has to make a profit. Just flip the cars.
    Yes, I’m pissed.

    Like 9
    • Danno

      Absolutely correct as always! Thank you Angel……

      Like 0
  22. Harry

    Cheers Ken 🍻

    Like 0
  23. OldCarGuy (and not PC)


    Would that be peevishness, or alcohol? Kidding! You’re right about saving, restoring, passing them down. I’ve had to let long-time projects go elsewhere, at a loss, but we are not go0ing to live forever, so pay it forward.

    Like 3
  24. C.J.

    I have been in the restore / street rod hobby 50 plus years, everything has changed, now its all about money, the hobby part is gone!

    Like 1
  25. John EderMember

    Ford has revived the “Super Cobra Jet” name first used in 1969 on a high-performance variant of the Mustang, and applied it to an amped up, electric drag racing car. Ford hopes the Super Cobra Jet 1800 Mustang will beat a previous electric Mustang dragster’s quarter-mile record of 8.128 seconds at 171.97 miles per hour.

    Like 0

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