Super Suburban: 1954 Plymouth Plaza Wagon

With the Korean War in the rearview mirror and government restrictions lifted, Plymouth had high hopes for it’s mildly-redesigned 1954 models. This 1954 Plymouth Plaza Wagon, or Suburban Wagon, is a two-owner Colorado car and it’s still in Calhan, Colorado. The seller has it listed on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $4,500. Thanks to Ikey Heyman for sending in this submission!

Does or does not this car have perfect patina on it? I know, the term patina is way overused, even by me, but dang. I wouldn’t touch a thing on the body of this car other than to fix a few little rust-through areas and somehow blend the paint to match the surrounding, faded paint. And, I’d fix the floors or whatever else needed rust repairs. But, paint it?! Never. The body appears to be in solid and even, dare I say, nice condition; it’s just that the paint has faded so much that it gives it “that look”.

This wasn’t exactly a ground-breaking design, it was sort of a stop-gap but looking back on them now, I personally love this thing. It’s sort of a staid, stoic wear-your-hat car that wasn’t sleek and slick, but it was useful and the two-door wagons are rare.

The seller mentions that the Bluetooth and self-parking systems are currently not working, but.. no, wait a minute.. The Plaza was the entry-level Plymouth in this era, below the Savoy and the top-trim Belvedere. I don’t think that a car like this would ever be restored to original spec, it’ll be left as is or turned into a resto-mod. The steering wheel looks like it’s made out of bamboo, crazy, but most of the interior looks very good to me for being over 60 years old.

I’m trying to figure out what the hole is just to the left of the carb? Is that a rust hole? The engine looks good otherwise, and the seller says that this is the 217 which was borrowed from Dodge. In mid-year, they introduced a 110 hp 230 cubic-inch six which would have been a nice upgrade. I’m a boring keep-things-stock guy, but how would you restore this one? Keep it maintained, back to original specs, or resto-mod?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Brain

    That hole is the cardboard duct that goes for heating the inside. Neat car, Ill Bite and see where it goes.

  2. Jimmy Holt

    The hole behind the carb and the battery looks to be for the fresh air intake and looks to be that fibre board material.

  3. grant

    Fix the rust, prep the body over a few hard weekends and send it to Maaco. Spend another hard weekend color sanding and putting trim on. Then drive the wheels off.

  4. John D.

    Grant, I’m with you but I’d pull the engine and bore it out and make sure it has the longer stroke crank used for the 230 cubic inch engine. Mill the head and flywheel. Add a split exhaust and dual carb set up and overdrive, then go cruising.

    • John D.

      And I would upgrade the electrical system to 12 volt and an alternator so I coul have a really great sound system.

  5. Luke Fitzgerald

    Survivor – no question

  6. packrat

    Next question: what are the little half-rounds that are out on two stalks to each side of the rear gate window? I have never seen these to pay attention to them. I read through the listing as well to see if they were mentioned there, and saw nothing.

    • Scott in San Jose

      Channels a breeze to keep the dust off the back window.

      Man I want this thing badly. Reminds me of my Volvo 220 wagon all grown up. The Volvo fit my two kids in the back. Now with three want something a bit bigger.

      I’m with Grant.

      Would put two batteries in it. 12V for the electronics and 6V for the starter. Love the sound of an old 6V starter.

      • Rod

        Just need one battery. The 6 volt starter works in 12 v. Spins over faster but that helps starting it. It will last for a long time. Done it quite often.

      • Howard A Member

        Those “wings”, more importantly, did a so-so job of keeping exhaust fumes from coming in the back window when open. Anybody that’s ridden in the “way back” of a wagon with the window open, knows what I mean. You always saw these with back window open and lumber hanging 3 feet out the back.

        Like 1
  7. XMA0891

    I think proving, beyond a doubt, that life was indeed once simpler. Two doors are so tough to find! Love the frump-factor! Great find, great feature!

    Like 1
  8. Scott

    Can any one I’d the john Deere in the first picture? That might be more valuable than the car!

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Scott, appears to be a 1930 John Deere D-30 tractor, on steel ( wheels), restored, maybe $5g’s.

  9. Howard A Member

    I rarely say this, but I’d leave the outside as is, and under the hood, a 413 Cross Ram,,, who’s frumpy now!!

  10. ron tyrrell

    This car brings back memories of demo derbies. This and other Mopar products of this early fifties did very well and would exact extreme punishment on other cars in the bash. They would run al a long time with the sealed cooling system or just no water at all and above all else they could be bought for pennies. Probably the reason they are so rare today.

  11. DrinkinGasoline

    I agree with both Grant and John D. on this one. I have a set of those rear deflectors in stainless as well as a set of wing window deflectors that would good on this Plymouth. Maybe source a visor and sight glass as well.

  12. ben

    did u see the nada book he showed the prices whats he smoking just a old ply wagon most rotted out and were crushed u eather like them or don’t kinda like edsels and corvairs ben in fl

  13. JCW Jr.

    I know everyone has a different opinion, still do not uderstand not painting anything. I know paint can be expensive. You can also get a decent inexpensive paint job. This car would look so much nicer with paint and a shine. For the most part the rat rods should a least have on color primer or even 2 tone it with primer. Anything but rust. Rust on you car how degrading.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      I agree, I don’t care for rusty cars either, lived with them all my life, but you know how it is, as soon as you paint something, and these armchair critics are all over it, saying you’re hiding something. Can’t win, I guess.

  14. John C Cargill

    Yes, they were good reliable cars. It deserves at least a cheap paint job. With proper prep and wet sanding. I hate “patina”.

  15. Guggie 13

    my Dad had a car like this only blue , my brother and I hated this car still do , we made so much fun of that car that after a couple years Dad traded it for a 58 ford wagon with the 352 police interceptor motor we loved that car , we both took our drivers test on it and passed first time out , he drove that car until 1970 and got another Ford Wagon 390 v8 ,we still laugh when we think about how bad we abused dad over that old Plymouth wagon ,would not want this one either !!

  16. Allen Member

    People keep talking about the two-door wagons being rare. But thinking back, I can’t recall seeing a four-door Plymouth wagon in the ’49-’54 period. I do recall seeing some ’49 high-trim four-door woodies, but I do not ever recall seeing a ’53 or ’54 four-door Plymouth wagon.

    Hypocratic oath of auto restoration: first, do no harm. Yeah, I can get into the 413, and get excited about all the gawking faces the car would leave in the dust. But, you know, the time for that is over. How many of us remember what these cars looked like wheezing down the Eisenhower freeways at 55 mph? These flathead sixes were so gentle-sounding. They couldn’t hurt a flea. The essence of calm, quiet, unobtrusive transport…

    I keep thinking of the sound of a ’47 or ’48 Chrysler or DeSoto with Fluid Drive (it said so on the rear bumper!) taking off from a stoplight. The flathead (some of them were 8s) would inch away at what sounded like about 600 rpm – gently gliding – all the way up to 60 if your stopwatch was calibrated in hours. The exhaust sound was perhaps the closest to “white noise” of any automotive exhaust I’ve ever heard. This characteristic even carried over to the lowliest of Plymouths. This totally ineffectual sound is characteristic of these cars and I think part and parcel of their identity. If you want to French the headlights, shave the door handles and chop the top 4″, go ahead. If you’re into preserving the original appearance, please preserve the original sound. If you’re going street-rod totally, please do the work so beautifully that I admire the car for the quality of your work above all else.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Allen, thanks for being the voice of reason, I know those 413, freak your fellow motorist out ( and probably cause an accident in itself) days are over, but the flathead 6 was fine in 1954. 55 mph was “hammer down” back then. Everybody struggled to go 55. It was the norm. Today, that gingerly pace on any highway will get YOU killed.

      Like 1
  17. Bradley Clark

    Pray tell, what is the doodad on top of the dash?

  18. Allen Member

    Looks to me like an aftermarket clock or compass. Also, it appears attached to one of the windshield frame screws. I.E. remove screw, remove device, replace screw, car now restored!

  19. Marshall

    Our family had a ’53, the same color as that darker green from 1961 to 1966. It was a two door as well. Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever seeing any four-door Mopar wagons either from the early 50s

  20. Scott in San Jose

    If it were mine, I would reprint it the dark green. Clean up the interior. Go through the driveline to make them reliable. Leave the flathead and the slow turning 6V starter. Put a 12V system in for the tunes.

    Throw in the kids, their friends, all the stuff, and head to the beach. Don’t care if sand gets everywhere. Don’t care if the folks behind us get annoyed at us going slow.

    Like 1
  21. Allen Member

    Scott – ‘ love your post! But hey, nobody’s gonna complain about your going slow. If you’re on an interstate, they can pass you; if you’re on a secondary, you can do the speed limit. ‘ Might take awhile getting there but once there, you can stay with the traffic.

    Allen

    Like 1
  22. Dan

    I would ensure it could be reliably driven, maybe put in an overdrive and a different gear-set out back, clean it up, re-paint it, and enjoy. I really like this car, and am surprised it apparently received not one bid.

  23. Rob Turner

    Love this old girl! From a time when ladies still wore hats and gloves and gentlemen actually shaved their mug everyday! A little class goes a long way, as people knew back then.

    Like 1

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