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Restore or Rod? 1950 Plymouth Special DeLuxe


Barn Finder billw has been keeping an eye out, and he has spotted this 1950 Plymouth for us, so thank you for that billw. This 1950 Plymouth is a clean looking car, but alas, there is some work awaiting the new owner. You will find the Plymouth listed for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Fox Chase, Pennsylvania, and is listed for sale with a clean title. The owner has set a sale price of $3,500 for the Plymouth.

By and large, this Plymouth presents reasonably well. It is not going to win a lot of trophies at car shows, but it is fairly neat and clean. The car was repainted some years ago, and it seems to be free of any major rust issues. All of the external trim is present, although some of it, the bumpers, for example, could possibly benefit from restoration.

The interior is pretty good on this car. The owner has treated it to new seats and new carpet. The headliner is in generally good condition, as are the door trims. Both are a bit dirty looking, but this is just a result of age. It would be up to the new owner if they wanted to replace or restore these. The dash looks really nice, so there’s really not a lot required on the interior.

Under the hood is the 3.6l flat-head 6-cylinder engine, which is hooked to a manual transmission. This is the moment where things go down-hill for us. The engine was running and driving really well, but a few days ago something let go in the engine, and now it cranks over fast and doesn’t run. It is hard to know what has happened without giving the engine the once-over, but the new owner should probably be prepared for the possibility of a rebuild. Otherwise, the engine has recently been treated to new plugs and a new carburetor.

The owner floats a couple of options with the Plymouth. He does suggest that the new owner could rebuild or replace the existing engine, or they could consider fitting a Mopar V8. These are definitely all possibilities. While I really like seeing cars preserved in their original form, I also appreciate a well-modified classic as much as the next person. So, what would you do?


  1. canadainmarkseh

    First thing that comes to mind is broken crank or striped timing sprocket or broken timing chain. The most likely is a timing chain issue like the chain jumped out of Time because it was heavily worn. With it being out of time there would be no compression and would allow for a faster free wheeling engine that would not start. My first move would be to pull the front cover and check those sprockets and chain. This is a really easy fix. If that checked out I’d pull the oil pan and have a look. Chains jumping out of time were fairly common on high milage engines I’ve seen this on 318’s and 350 chevy’s on the chevy engine when the chain gets loose it will saw a hole in the timing cover and there will be oil everywhere. If the failure is major than I’d transplant a 318 into the car. The rest of the car looks quite good and would be fun to own. Nice old Mopar.

    Like 9
    • Howard A Member

      Hey Mark, I don’t think so.Flathead 6’s are the most bullet proof engines made, and I can’t think, in all the applications I’ve come in contact with the flathead, I ever saw one break a crank or strip timing gears ( V8’s, yes, worn timing chains, I’ve seen, but not flatties). Of course, it’s possible, but I’d start with more basic tests. It’s going to spin, these had 5.5 to 1 compression, and worn, even less. I’d start with compression test, make sure the dist. is going round, could be something simple. I suppose it will become some V8 beast, but that’s not what this car was designed for.

      Like 7
      • canadainmarkseh

        Howard these do use chains and it’s a good hefty chain with metal sprockets. They are not gear to gear. When I had the front cover off my 218 ci I was surprised to see that chain. My vote is the chain is slack and when he went to start it it back fired and jumped the chain. Idle reving an engine with a loose chain will cause them to jump too. As soon as the chain is out of time by 2 or more teeth it won’t start and the engine will free wheel on the starter that because there will be no compression and ignition timing will be off too. Your right about the crank shaft they are massive and I believe they are also drop forged steel instead of cast. So my money is still on it being a jumped chain.

        Like 3
    • Solosolo UK ken TILLY Member

      Sounds like either of those suggestions are most likely the cause.

      Like 2
    • Dirk

      I wouldn’t overlook the easiest things first Mark. A lot of people are just too quick to jump to the (often) wrong conclusion. Maybe he thinks the engine is “cranking really fast” when in fact, perhaps he is only hearing a starter with a stuck gear spinning “really fast”. It is possible there is nothing wrong with the engine at all. Maybe when “something let go” it was a tooth snapping off of the flywheel creating a dead spot. In any case, something like that is near impossible to diagnose without a hands-on inspection.

      Like 3
      • Dirk

        Hell, it could be something REALLY simple like, maybe the high-tension wire jumped off of the coil.

        I once bought a car that, in the words of the owner, “needs a clutch”. When I got it home, I quickly found out all it needed was a clutch slave cylinder and I was driving it around an hour later.

        Like 3
      • canadainmarkseh

        Your right Dirk it could be more simple then what I said. Your also right that some things need to be seen firsthand to properly diagnose.

        Like 2
  2. Chebby Member

    When your thing for sale breaks and you don’t know what happened, or why, or want to investigate it, you’d better be prepared to accept a best offer. This and “if I work on it, the price will go up” is just empty chest-beating by Craigslist sellers who think they move markets.

    Like 9
  3. glen

    Whatever the problem is, both of you are providing good advice, keep it up.

    Like 9
  4. JerryDeeWrench

    Turn engine over to line up timing marks. Pop off dist cap . Rotor should align with number 1 or 6. Problem solved. Ni

    Like 7
  5. A.J.

    My HS car given to me by my dad. Brilliant maneuver on his part since I learned the value of work busting my ass to get the money together for a GTO.

    Agree with the bullet proof comments. Car never left me in the lurch. Every.

    Like 4
  6. SMS

    Easy decision, love inlines for their smoothness and flatheads for their simplicity. If it was closer to me I’d be picking it up today and getting to work on that motor.

    Thing is about flathead in-line engines is that when they get old they run about the same. Smoke a bit and less power so owners don’t realize they could use a rebuild. Can replace the chain and gears or spend a few hours a night for a couple of weeks and rebuild it.

    Great father a kids project. Watching their faces when it first fires up and the pride knowing that they helped get the car going is worth all the scrapped knuckles.

    Like 5
  7. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking car. I’d keep it as original as possible, but I’d also upgrade a few things to make it safer for driving in today’s traffic.

    Like 2
  8. Del

    Cute little car.

    Yup. Grab it and stuff a 340 or 318 in it.

    Should be able to get it cheap with engine gonzo

    Like 1
  9. dweezilaz

    If the engine is gone a 225 Slant Six in it’s place.

    Not everything needs a V8.

    Like 8

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