Serious Business: 1937 Dodge D5 Business Coupe

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I know that it’s a weekend and you’re not supposed to be thinking of business, but it’s hard not to with this one. This 1937 Dodge D5 Business Coupe is on eBay with a current bid price of just over $3,500 but the reserve isn’t met. There is a Buy It Now price of $6,000 and there are two days left to get your bids in. The car is located in Wytheville, Virginia.

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This is such a killer body style and this body isn’t in bad shape. Well, it’s fairly rough but it looks complete and it’s not all pinged and dented up, at least. There will be a lot of rust repair to do here, but even in looking at the photo above you can see that it’s not a total loss by any means. I expected to see at least one dent in the roof but this thing is almost pristine, dent-wise.

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There’s a dent in the RF fender, however, but that can be massaged out without too much trouble. Look at how crisp the edges of the fender bottoms look, this car is actually in pretty nice condition! I hate to throw out the p-word (patina) so often, but dang, how a tv reality show hasn’t snagged this car already is beyond me. I can see this one brought up to speed, mechanically, and then lightly sanded and buffed and clear-coated. And, that’s probably the second most likely scenario for this car’s future. We all know that this one will be a resto-mod in its next life, not that it’s a bad thing at all, I can see why folks love to do that with these unique designs. I’d love to restore this one back to bone-stock appearance, but that’s just me.

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Ok, here’s where you’ll be spending a lot of time and money, on the interior. But, when you’re done, what a gorgeous interior it will be! Maybe the door cards are somewhere, but I’m guessing not. There are a few things in the huge trunk, which these business coupes are known for. I mean, for having a large trunk, not for having a few things in the large trunk. We probably all know that business coupes were made for sales people who would fill the double-sized trunk with wares. There is no back seat in a real business coupe. Sometimes, a club coupe or other type of coupe gets lumped in with the actual business coupe name so if you run across one for sale and it has a back seat, the seller either doesn’t know or they’re guiding the lily a bit (Brady Bunch reference there, sorry).

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This is Dodge’s L-Head 218 cubic-inch flathead-six which would have had about 87-90 hp. It would have looked like this and it could again. Dodge made almost 42,000 business coupes in 1937 but there can’t be that many left in original condition like this one. This would probably be a $20,000-$25,000 car if it was restored back to original-spec, and who knows what it would be worth if it was modified with a modern drivetrain and custom interior and paint. If a person had a nice shop and some tools and most importantly, enough time and money, even restoring this car back to original spec could theoretically not be a money losing proposition. How would you bring this Dodge back to life?

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Comments

  1. Don

    restore it and put some old time speed parts on the flathead 6

  2. Howard A Member

    Has hot-rod written all over it, and that’s ok. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/5m1GWp1PCtQ/maxresdefault.jpg

    Like 2
  3. G 1

    A guy I used to help with his race car, bought a car just like this one for $200 in 1968. Rode around in that car all summer long. Seemed like we put a 100 miles on a day. Great old car that just ran&ran.

    Like 1
  4. Big Andy

    Keep the flat 6 and put in a NP A-833 4 speed…Keep the patina and drive it.
    Nice car, a little expensive at 6K. But they are not making anymore. It’s sad that the do it yourself mechanic has to have big money to get a project going. I guess it’s the sign of the times or is it the value of dollar has gone down. NICE CAR!

    • jaygryph

      No, you may not find this car for $200 today, but in 1968  that car was 31 years old.

      Craigslist is full of cheap 31 year old cars that make great projects for aspiring mechanics.

      As of this writing, a 31 year old car would be something from 1985. Cars older than that are also very common, and frequently cheap. Despite what many old timers will tell you, there really were a lot of good vehicles built in the 80’s. Most of the kvetching I’ve heard is based purely on aesthetics, and rarely on how sound a design is, or how well a particular vehicle drives and is to live with. Most people have not owned very many vehicles, and have driven few in the overall scheme of things, so it’s hard to base judgement of an entire era of autos off shot from the hip opinions and speculation.

      Another consideration is that accounting for inflation, $200 in 1968 comes out to about $1315.68 in 2016 money.

      Heading over to Craigslist for Portland Oregon, since that’s the one I’m familiar with and it frequently has plenty of neat stuff sitting around in the woods, we find that there are 2500 matches if searching with a maximum price of $1400.

      Want German? Try this $500 1980 VW Scirocco for a unique hatch project.
      https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5818108506.html

      Want a pony car with great aftermarket support? Here’s a running driving 1996 Mustang for $1200 https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5852462354.html

      $800 280z waiting for a v8 swap if Japanese is your flavor. https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5852435560.html

      Into blocky trucks? 82 GMC High Sierra pickup for $350 https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5852406120.html

      91 Cherokee for your off roading summer fun for a grand.
      https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5852334075.html

      Yeah you ask, but where is the older iron? All those previous ones came off the first page of that search. So here, lets see what’s older and cheap.

      75 Cherokee Chief just begging to get power washed for $700
      https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5852196418.html

      1960 Pontiac Catalina for $595
      https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5851948702.html

      69 chevy pickup with a V8 and a 4 speed for $950
      https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5847146066.html

      A pair of Saab Sonnets for $900
      https://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/cto/5850955302.html

      1959 Edsel wagon for $900
      https://portland.craigslist.org/yam/cto/5812484456.html

      I could do this all day. The point is that with a little perspective this car stuff ain’t so overwhelmingly expensive. Yeah, if you’re looking for a 69 Camaro or an old charger for 1980’s prices, you’re not going to find that, but understanding why requires a general grasp of how time and math works.

      1940 international pickup project for $900
      https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5848185293.html

      1959 Singer Gazelle $1000 I’ve never even seen one of these till now. Neat little convertible.
      https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5841930302.html

      Strangely customized 1960 Corvair (that’s been on there a long time) https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5797634290.html

      Here’s a pair of 1940 buicks for $500 each. https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5830019818.html

      I think I made my point, there are cars out there and they are cheap. It will be harder to find this stuff in the rust belt, sure, I get that, but it’s not impossible.

      If you’re a young guy/gal or just someone into cars and you are hearing from the old car guys that “all the deals are gone. Counting Cars (etc) ruined the car hobby by making things too expensive. Nobody can get into this because it’s too expensive.” Well, they’re wrong.

      What they’re saying is “This costs more than I’m willing to spend to get what I want, and I don’t want what is within my price range and am unwilling to consider other projects that are not my normal tastes.”

      And, while we’re on the topic of this sharp 37 dodge, here’s $300 worth of 1937 dodge parts https://portland.craigslist.org/nco/cto/5797899113.html that would be well worth it if you picked up the car on this page.

      The deals are out there if you have an open mind and a reasonable bit of spending money. Go find em.

      Like 1
      • David Wilk Member

        Great post Jay, thanks for expressing this, and for these very cool examples.

        Like 1
      • Mark S Member

        I couldn’t agree more jay I got my hands on a 1951 dodge 2 door hardtop in 2010 for $400.00. I’ve been doing my own work as time and money will allow, the car is 80% done and I think I may have spent $2000.00 on it so far. Know to be fair I have to admit that I have alot of tools and am a licensed mechanic/ welder but the point is alot of getting a car like this done is being a good scrounger, alot of elbow grease and a learn as you go attitude. With the internet here scrounging has never been easier and these old cars are as simple as your lawn mower you just have to be prepared to get dirty.

        Like 1
      • Dave Wright

        That is what the “hobby” used to be all about…….a guy could have something fun and obtain some skills along the way……not about multi million dollar auctions and making big profits. If you did make a profit, good for you, but it was about everything that went into it. It still can be if someone is ambitious and creative. As an example from pop culture, Gibbs on NCIS always is building a wooden boat in his basement, you rarely or never see them finished. That is not what it is about. It is about the therapy of the build.

        Like 1
  5. Bobsmyuncle

    Love it!

    Like 1
  6. Ken Smith

    Drove a 1938 Plymouth Coupe similar to this one to high school in 1959. Thing just ran all day, and that little flathead six ran like a top!

    Like 1
  7. ccrvtt

    That nose profile is just AWESOME!

  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    These do make nice hot rods. However, they look pretty good restored to original too….

    Like 1
    • Tony

      I have a 1937 d5 sedan convertible. I know the production numbers are pretty low like 473 but what is a fair market value on something like this? True Texas car all its life and solid as a rock. Only missing a few small parts. I’ll try to upload a pic.

      Like 1
  9. Ken Smith

    Very well said jaygryph !

  10. GRAY WOLF

    Good nostalgia gasser material! Saw a few nicely painted and some rolling with patina and small dents.

  11. OhU8one2

    I just have to think what the Fooster meaning “Chip” would do with this. Could be a future Ridler award winner. I’m just saying.

  12. Jay M

    I would restore this one back to stock because it is so complete and solid. Would almost be a shame to modify it, as much as I love restorods.
    Either way, looks like a great start to a really fun project.

    Like 1
  13. Ck

    Jaygryph I agree with you 100%. People always say I would love to have an old car but they are so much $ ,and that they can’t aford it .I always say there are so many deals out there if you keep an open mind.If you drive by a car that catches your eye every day for 1…2…3…. Years ,and it never moves .Bang on the door and ask about it. I cant tell you how many cars that have seen over the years,where I’ve said to myself I should stop an ask about that car , and don’t . Then one day you go by the house and its GONE . The deals are out there people .Go to swap meets ,go on Craigslist and dont be afraid to bang on that door and ask about that old car in the back yard.

    • jaygryph

      This is quite true. I used to know the owners of a small town wrecking yard and that was how they got most of their cars. Usually for free.

      Upset me to no end when they drug in a 51 plymouth sedan I’d been eying and put it right in the crush pile. God those guys were idiots.

      If you see something, chances are someone else has seen it so if you want it you had better money up and ask about it, because a lot of those cars really do end up in junkyards or scrap heaps.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Ck. I can sure agree with you on stopping by to ask about a particular car that interests you. I’ve also asked about certain vehicles and got snubbed off. Followups were done to no avail. Then one day the car/truck was gone anyways. I missed out on a ’38 Ford pickup that way. What’s really devastating is what happened to it after that….

  14. Ck

    Huh forgot to comment on this old Dodge.I like it. It’s would be kool to restore it but odds are this will be someone’s next Hot Rod .But thats ok at least it won’t go to the crusher.

  15. Bruce

    Get her running & head to the Drive In. ( With 20 of your friends in the trunk !!!)

  16. Ben T. Spanner

    Flat head Mopars? Grandfather 1936? Dodge Rumble seat coupe.

    Father: 1946 Dodge sedan new. 1948 Desoto convertible new. 1951 Dodge Wayfarer convertible new. 1951 Dodge Diplomat 2 door hardtop which replaced the Wayfarer when it was totaled by a red light runner.

    My third car was a 1935 Plymouth 2 door sedan.

  17. Doug Towsley

    Jaygryphs is correct, I too am near Portland and see some deals out there if you are not afraid to work. I get tired of the chrome polishers who just want to buy something near complete and perfect and then do a little detailing and pretend they accomplished something.
    What I respect are the dwindling numbers who go out and weld, fabricate and turn wrenchs and bring an old car like this back from the dead.
    I said it on her many times. I Had a 37 similar to this and sold it last year. Still have my 39 Plymouth project, and picked up a 39 Dodge Coupe, and still have my 37 Pontiac-Chevy coupe. Great stylish old cars. Restore or hot rod this one. Its in good shape for its age. All the important stuff is there.

    Like 1
  18. Dennis M

    That little ding in the right front fender would not take more than a few minutes with a body hammer and a dolly! These were made of serious metal and it can be worked quite easily. In our body class in college (Yeah, I was an Auto Tech at SUNY Morrisville) we had to bring in a fender from a junkyard – this was in the early 1960’s. The instructor would then whack it with a 1″ pipe and we had to take the dent out with a hammer and a dolly. No lead, no filler, just work the metal back where it belonged.

    Like 1
    • Mark S Member

      That’s a skill that I doubt is even tought any more. Now it’s part swap it or write it off. Seldom anything in between.

      • Doug Towsley

        While you are right partially, theres many who dont learn those skills but the majority of it is economical. Doesnt take much skill or time to swap out parts. I have a local guy who seems allergic to actually repairing parts and all he wants to do is bolt on perfect parts. (I keep asking why, He would rather spend large sums of money and time replacing a part that could be easily repaired)
        But depsite the naysayers metal fab and the arts forms derived are alive and well. Thanks to a few TV shows and the internet the interest is growing. English wheel and planishing hammers sales have soared. Classes, Books and DVD sales are doing brisk business.
        You can look at classes online or Youtube on metal shrinking, metal fab, learn welding skills etc etc…. Look up Ron Fournier, Covell, Tex Smith. legions of Young hipsters are diving into rat rods and period hot rods, motorcysles and are eager to learn. I am in some discussions on doing some classes this winter, and we had a good response last time I scheduled them. All those old farts pronouncing the art form is dead or there is no interest need to get out more.
        Look up Billet Proof on the internet. The ONE show in Portland has grown explosively here in Portland Oregon and the lines are around the block waiting to get in last year ALL 3 days!. There are other shows in other areas. a few old farts like me but most are under 40

  19. ccrvtt

    I have read every comment on this post (and made one myself) and for the life of me I can’t understand why any one of them received a down vote. Now I’m one of the ones who called for its return because I think it makes a controversial viewpoint a referendum on public opinion. These comments for the most part have been thoughtful and well-reasoned. Some (jaygryph) have been quite elucidating and entertaining.

    Maybe if you’re going to go negative you should defend your position.

    • Doug Towsley

      I agree CCRVTT, I Think that if you downvote you should have your ID visible. I think some curmudgenly old guys dont like anyone advocating restomods, or hot rods. I admit I didnt like seeing comments about Chip Foose although of all the TV reality stars he seems to have the most talent, I dont like what most of the TV show clowns represent. Kendig customs and Counting cars I dont like at all. But on the other hand TV shows have sparked interest so there is that.
      There was a few people ,,,,Jason something, and Drinking gasoline who seemed to pretty outspoken and contentious but really, If you downvote your ID should show next to your votes.
      Ratrod, restomod, or restore. This car is cool. Would I get downvotes if i say Mad Max thrunder road half life boys charriot?

      • jaygryph

        I think that’s too nice a car to do that to, Doug, however as someone that drove around for a few years in a 78 Mercury Cougar Brougham with two mocked up 50 cal machineguns bolted to the hood, I sure would enjoy seeing or driving such a thing!

        I don’t know that putting names by downvotes would work out so well for doing anything other than fighting. If every vote had a name by it that would perhaps be workable, but it would still end up with name calling and arguments.

        The system in place where it cuts off after a few replies seems to work out okay, it nips arguments off before they get too far out of hand, and makes this ever growing list of comments something that can actually be moderated to some degree.

        We all *should* play nice, but the reality is that it won’t happen. I mean, there are still fist fights at car shows, so the internet version of such won’t be much different.

        They don’t issue drivers licenses for keyboards (nor should they) so we kinda just have to deal with the digital road rage and do our best to not be part of it.

        Also, if you’ve not seen the history of that car ‘Elvis’, the one in the picture, the twin engine job from Fury Road, you totally should. It was a real honest to god hotrod show car before that movie. They blew up the engine, and the guy that built it kept the nice bodywork, what you see is a fiberglass replica all done up for film. The bodywork got built into a nice standard engine car, and after shooting he bought back the remains of the wrecked car to do something with again.

        http://madmax.wikia.com/wiki/Ford_3_Window_Coupe_1932_%22Elvis%22

        Here’s the info on it. It’s pretty neat.

  20. Ck

    Ya know I said the same thing to myself about the whole down vote thing .I think people are just giving the thumbs down to do it whatever floats yur boat if thats how you get yur kicks Whatever.Cuz that don’t befun me as long as i get my Barn Finds next friday.

  21. Doug Towsley

    So I says hey Bartender, Give me one Bourbon, One Scotch and one beer.

    See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-fSZRYeBWk

  22. Doug Towsley

    Thanks Jay, Yep if you were in the art car movement at all in Portland I would love to see that come back again. Used to be a parade. There was some cool cars.
    I agree the car on auction IS too nice to do that too, and thanks for that history website. thats cool. However the 39 Didge coupe I Have here I have been mulling over something like that . Some knarly treat tires, perhaps an AWD donor chassis and have been reading up on some of the Patina painting tricks, many of the movie people use those techniques as well.
    I should do a write up for Barn finds on the car. Its another guy who belongs to our museum and live near me. He owns 40 cars and many really nice. They were clearing land on his farm and he found out he owned 41 cars. Old 39 Dodge coupe in the sticker bushes just like Briar rabbit. I bought it from him because A) Great price B) Thought some of the parts would fit my 39 Plymouth. (Not neccesarily)

    Like 1

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