Parked 20 Years Ago: 1951 Dodge Wayfarer

I’m in love. This 1951 Dodge Wayfarer is the nicest one that I have ever seen and I have seen a few of them, as most of you have. This beautiful car can be found here on eBay in one of my favorite cities in the US: Huntsville, Alabama. The current bid price is over $3,100 but the reserve isn’t met. Let’s check it out.

The photos aren’t the best quality and there isn’t one single photo that shows the entire car and none that show the grille or back end, really. But, from how the rest of the car looks, I’m sure that they’re as like-new as possible. Or, I should say, restored to almost like-new. The seller says that this car was restored in 1974 by the previous owner and then put into storage around 20 years ago and hasn’t been started since.

I’m not sure if the current owner bought it within the last 20 years or really what the timeline is. They say that they have never driven it, which is an unbelievable shame given how nice this car looks. I don’t see a glaring flaw at all anywhere. The Wayfarer was Dodge’s entry-level model and they were made for only four years, 1949 to 1952. The 1951 models received a fairly intensive update with a new front clip and split grille, not to mention the famous Dodge Ram hood ornament.

The interior is even gorgeous, right down to the windlace and all of the details. I have collected (hoarded) some nice vehicles over the years, some that I love to just sit and look at, but I at least try to drive them all every now and then. Once or twice a year at least. Most of them, anyway… But, for the current owner to have never driven this car makes me sad. It sure looks like the previous owner spared no expense what so ever in having this car nut-and-bolt restored.

The Chrysler 230 cubic-inch L-head-six engine with just over 100 hp looks great if not better than great. Excellent? I think so. The bad part is that it hasn’t been started in two decades, but it does turn over. The seller mentions that they never drove it so they weren’t concerned about starting it. I hope that it fires up and operates as nicely as it looks after some tinkering by the next owner. Have any of you restored a vehicle and then just let it sit for decades without using it?

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  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    This one is nice! You could take this one right out and enjoy the heck out of it. If I was looking to add to my stable I just might take a chance on this one. I’m a little curious if this is running a manual transmission or a fluid drive. So many Dodges of this vintage ran the latter. Not that it would bother me; I had some friends who ran the Fluid Drive and seemed to get along just fine with it…

  2. Howard A Member

    Thing you gotta like about Scotty, he’s in love with everything he writes up. If there’s anyone that should have been born a millionaire, with a stadium full of classics, it’s him. I agree, neat car, but back then, this was probably the cheapest beater our folks could have bought. My dad talked about a cheap post-war Dodge after he got back from the service. I don’t think it’s a fluid drive. I saw on images, those cars had a big oil reservoir(?) on the motor. It’s just a plain old Dodge your Uncle Louie drove to the factory every day, and home. As is, gonna struggle on the highway, 100 hp isn’t much in a 3500 lb. car, not that you couldn’t hold it wide open all day, just not the best. From a time when this was good enough, can you imagine?

    • Howard Kerr

      Howard A.
      That huge oil “reservoir” on top of the engine is the air intake/filter. These cars had an oil bath air filter that I believe is vaguely similar in operation to a K&N air filter in that the filter element is cleanable. I don’t know if that was some kind of Chrysler exclusive or if many other makes or car also used it.

      My family had 2 Plymouths of this vintage and to my knowledge the filter element was never cleaned.

      • Jeff

        Oil bath was not exclusive to Chrysler, most makes used the same thing. Although they could be cleaned with gasoline or kerosene, few people did. Only dumping out the reservoir and cleaning out and refilling it with fresh oil.

  3. RayT Member

    Always thought these were lumpy, dumpy and frumpy. They were my Aunt’s car. Literally. She had a Plymouth of this vintage, and I remember it as being slow (make that sloooooow) and generally not very appealing. Hers even had the three-on-the-tree, so its lack of performance wasn’t made worse by Fluid Drive….

    This is probably as nice an example as you’d find. Someone clearly had a higher opinion of it than I do. But leaving aside the cost of restoration, and whatever the seller has in it, $3500 seems a tad excessive for a car I might have paid $75 for when I first got my driver’s license….

    P.S. I paid $50 for a Hillman Minx instead.

    But I would definitely pay attention to this at a Cars & Coffee! I’m glad it’s out there.

    • SMDA

      No way! This is awesome! Wish I had the room.

  4. ken tillyUK

    You over paid for the Hillman Minx I think.

    • RayT Member

      Now, now, Mr Tilly. I will have you know that after a year of ownership — and the outlay of approximately $8.00 for replacement parts — said Minx was resold to a neighbor for $60.00!

      Never mind that this was the only such transaction in which I came out ahead in 53 years of car ownership. Profit is profit!

      • ken tillyUK

        @RayT. I was only pulling your chain. $52 profit is, as you say, profit. I also had a 1958 Hillman Minx for a year or so and must say that although a bit under powered, it was a great little car. The most annoying thing about it was the four on the column gear selector rattled unbelievably. By the way, my late brother was known as Ray T as well.

  5. Robert White

    I’m smitten again.


  6. hatofpork

    Nice old Plymouth. PS-You can NEVER overpay for a Hillman Minx (wagon).

  7. Chris H

    Capitalism 101: What is something worth?
    It’s worth as much as someone is willing to pay.
    Case in point, look at that ’49 Chevy in the next article. Asking $10k. Is it worth it? This Dodge is in much better shape, seats more passegers, rides smoother, and is its original color. And there’s a lot less Wayfares on or off the road.
    All just depends on what you want in a vehicle.
    Given the choice, I’d choose this one.

  8. Bob C.

    A guy I knew had a 50 Coronet which looked very much like this and the same color too. It had the Fluid Drive and it was very tempting to me. I’m still kicking myself because it was a good deal when he was selling it.

  9. Mike

    Our county assessor has been taking pictures of every house in the county for tax purposes for decades. I was able to get pictures of our house from their files in 1953. The first owner of our house had this same car parked in the driveway in the picture. There was also back then a small tree in the front yard. That tree is 3 feet in diameter today.

  10. Ben T Spanner

    In December 1950, my father bought a brand new Dodge Wayfarer convertible off the showroom floor. I was 5. Over the next 5 years, we took many vacations all over the eastern 2/3 of the country.
    In December of 1955, a red light runner totaled the convertible. On Christmas eve, we went used car shopping and purchased a 1951 Dodge Diplomat 2 door hardtop in this green. The convertible had fluid drive and was slow. The Diplomat had Gyromatic and was even slower.
    In January of 1956, the Dodge was joined by a 1955 Desoto Firedome 2 dr ht with a hemi and powerglide. It was not slow.

    • mopartech

      Powerglide was slip and slide by Chev/Pontiac. Mopars had a Powerflite 1953 to1961 and Cast Torqueflite 1956 to 1961.

  11. lc

    “…Has not been fired up or driven since. I do know the engine turns over freely by hand. I don’t never drive them either so wasn’t worried about getting it going.”…???

    I don’t get that statement…
    Neat car though.

  12. Angel Cadillac Diva

    This particular Wayfarer is wearing Packard hubcaps.
    Memories, memories. I’ve told you all before that learned how to drive at age 11. Soon after that my father crashed his Dodge ’51 or ’52 model. He tried repairing it so it was drivable, banged out the fenders, took off the bumper, and continued to use it to go back and forth to work. Soon enough, he got another $50 car to use for work and I got the Dodge. I could drive it on our dirt road and around the fields. Being that I love open cars and this was a 2-door hardtop, I chopped the roof off, the window frames, painted flowers on it and it was my “flower power” car. Yes, I was a hippy in the mid to late 60s

    • Jeff

      No, they are not Packard hubcaps, they are Dodge. They looked very similar, the center red circle is round on the Dodge, and octangular on the Packard.

  13. Tort Member

    Very nice example of a car I have grown to like over the years. I had a Hillman Minx convertible long ago. Four speed on the column . The guy I bought it from told me there was no need to use first gear. Guess I didn’t need it because it wouldn’t go in first gear.

  14. Del

    Car is a sweet heart.

    Auction at 6525.00 but reserve not met.

    Being a non runner is killing bidding.

    Not gonna sell this time around

    • Jeff

      That and the general lack of information and good photographs.

  15. Bob McK Member

    I had a 52 Coronet with 8K original miles. Beautiful car, but only brought $18K when I sold it a few months ago. It was a great car, but terribly boring.

  16. PatrickM

    Ad ended. sold for $8,152.00. Someone got themselves a great old piece of history. These were pretty good cars, as I recall. Of course, I was only about 7 to 9 years old.

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