Surf’s Up! 1950 Plymouth Suburban Patina Wagon

Yesterday, we covered an article on an ’82 Chevrolet Malibu station wagon and a commenter suggested converting it into a two-door station wagon. There was also a posting yesterday for a ’57 Chevrolet Nomad, Chevy’s famous two-door station wagon from the mid-fifties. And this focus on two-door wagons got me thinking about the entire genre. For my money, yes, I think a two-door arrangement for a wagon makes for a better-looking car. Especially one that is going to undergo hot-rod style modifications. At the same time, the entire concept makes me think why a two-door wagon? Aren’t station wagons supposed to be about functionality and convenience? How does that square with only two-doors? Well, like many things it did until it didn’t. Short of an economy compact car like a Vega or a Pinto, I don’t recall a two-door station wagon being made past ’65 and that would have been a Chevrolet Chevelle. There was a time however when they were popular and here’s a model that receives very little press, a 1950 Plymouth Suburban two-door station wagon located in Woodstock, New York and available here on eBay for a current bid of $11,000, 34 bids tendered as of this writing.

In 1950, Plymouth offered two station wagons, a four-door, wood-trimmed “Special Deluxe” and a two-door “Deluxe Suburban”. I’m not sure that I have ever seen either in the actual steel, at least not that I recall. Our example is a complete frame-off restoration that has left the patinaed (there’s that dreaded “P” word) body finish intact. The goal was to create a “surf-wagon” theme and I think the seller has been successful. There is a very extensive collection of before-and-after images included in this listing so be sure to check them all out.

There is a significant amount of metalwork that has been performed on this Suburban so there’s no cause for concern regarding rot, disintegrated floors/frame or weakness of integrity. While there is some surface rust mixed in with the patina, it is just that surface rust that has been allowed to collect on patched body panels. The seller states that yes, of course, this Suburban can be painted but he’s not going to do it though he has the capability, that would be up to the new owner. The seller adds that he has left the original steel wheels and small center hubcaps in place, with original style tires, to capture that period look. He does state that the tires should probably be replaced due to age.

Mechanically, there have been some really nice upgrades, such as a 318 CI V8 “LA” engine, though that motor was in this Plymouth before the restoration started, front disc brakes and a modern Jeep Cherokee differential. While the engine has not been rebuilt, it has had a replacement water pump, distributor and all new gaskets installed. The only original drive component appears to be the three-speed, manual gearbox. The seller states that it works fine, so he left it in place but he is willing to rebuild or replace it, for extra cost, if a buyer so desires. There isn’t much elaboration on how well this Suburban runs and drives but the seller invites interested parties to check it out and see for themselves.

The interior is magnificent! It has been completely restored; dash, gauges, upholstery, door cards, carpet, steering wheel, the whole enchilada, and very, very well done. It would seem to be a very inviting space and is further augmented by a manual floor-shift and under-dash auxiliary gauges.  As with so many cars from this era, this Plymouth has a heavily chromed and intricate instrument panel, it’s nice to see that it has been restored and left as originally designed.

There’s a lot to take in here (including the neat surfboard roof rack). There isn’t a reserve listed in the auction listing and considering the level of professional restoration that has occurred, it’s easy to assume that more has gone into this Suburban that will be realized when the auction concludes in two days. With 34 bids (don’t know how many actual bidders) there is a bit of interest being generated in this truly unique offering. The “patinaed” look isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but regardless, you have to admit this restorer has done a tremendous job on this old Suburban wagon, don’t you think?


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  1. Ryan Hilkemann

    Wow how those wheels add to the look!

    Like 2
  2. Kuzspike

    Missing the spear on the drivers side rear fender, and the one on the passenger side doesn’t look level in the pictures. Nice looking mechanicals, 318 should be good for cruising. lots of examples if you google 1950 plymouth station wagon, on how this could look if the body was finished. If you’re going to leave the body as-is, why not put a hellcat in it?

    Like 1
    • Tom Member

      $$$$$ and resale (limit your buyer)… That’s why.

      Very cool ride. All the tough stuff is done AND looks like it was done correctly.

      Like 5
  3. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    After all the good work done to this classic Plymouth wagon, why not go the last step and paint it? The crappy patina look doesn’t appeal to everyone and the seller could probably get a lot more for it finished.

    I never understood the “surf wagon” thing, especially when probably less than 1% of the population actually surf. Not a strong selling point for folks living in the Mid-West, where there isn’t an ocean nearby. All that being said, gnarly wagon, dude.

    Like 10
    • Joe Machado

      Had a 41 Ford Woodie wagon in Harbor City, Calif. Never had a surfboard. Body surfed.
      We went to several beaches.
      Manhattan Beach, Redondo, Palos Verdes, Long Beach, Seal and Huntington Beach. Lots of oil wells there.
      And oh ya, the Pike!
      Us guys left our swim trunks on towels at night. Some girls came by and took them and ran away with them. Had to drive home wearing towels.

    • Gray Wolf

      The surf wagon generated all along the coasts. Back in the day you could find old wagons cheap. The more boards and people you could haul meant more gas money! You could also sleep in the back on far away surf trips!

      Like 1
  4. SMDA

    You had me until I saw the 318. Do not get me wrong, I love 318s, but this car needs the original 217 L Head six. If you have to upgrade, fine, find a 230, but no more then that. The chassis is not designed for that much weight or HP. It will handle rough. Cars should be original to show what life was like when new. Besides, the standard six was more then enough power to cruise nicely, even on the freeway.

    Like 5
    • Howard A Member

      You sure about that? When was the last time you drove a 4,000 pound car with 90 hp?

      Like 12
    • Dusty Stalz

      I had a 440 in my 41 Plymouth with a stock front end and it drove just fine, although a little heavy with no power steering. And trust me getting into traffic was not a problem lol.

      Like 7
  5. Gaspumpchas

    I’m with ya fordguy1972–Rust mixed in with the patina?? I like the direction he’s taking this with the v8. maybe soup that 318?? Good luck to the new owner, would be righteous with the paint done and v8 power.

    Like 2
  6. Weasel

    Patina is here to stay! I love it. As a matter of fact, I just rubbed my toothbrush around in the dirt and let the dog chew on it a bit. The patina toothbrushes cost a lot so I made my own. It’s awesome.

    Like 5
    • Joe Machado

      Dont brush your teeth, as the patina will age you more. Oh, and use the patinaed tooth brush. New word, patinaed, now thats funni ya’ll.

  7. Del

    Very nicely done.

    The 318 is perfect.Most underrated V8 ever. Indestructible.

    All she needs is a great paint job and missing trim.

  8. bone

    I see this car and its giving me mixed signals- surf rod, ok, but with a mint interior and a modern 318 ? With that amount of work done I would have gone full blown with a nice paint job and rechrome the bumpers and trim. These old Mopars arent the prettiest cars of the time ,but this one has potential as a nice hot rod

    Like 4
  9. Ken Carney

    I vote paint it! It looks unfinished in it’s
    present state. All the modern stuff can stay. Here in Florida, they’d run over you
    if you have a 6 cylinder in it. Makes me
    nervous running down I-4 in a 4 banger,
    much less a flat head 6! If you did that,
    you’d probably get shot for going too slow. Nice car, just needs to be finished.

    Like 5
  10. jerry z

    At least you won’t have to worry about parking lot dings!

    Like 3
    • Howard Kerr

      My family had 3 different 50s Plymouths: a 49 2 door sedan, a 50 business coupe, and a 54 2 door sedan. I got to drive 2 of them and I can tell you that they do not accelerate all that quickly. Add in the deliberate shift action the transmission required and it leaves you feeling like a bit of an old lady behind the wheel.
      Steering? Like driving an old truck. Brakes? Felt like you were trying to brake an old horse drawn wagon, that is a lot of weight/inertia wanting to continue moving and small blocks of wood acting on the wheels attempting to slow…and hopefully stop all that mass.
      As far as the patina “thing”, I like it about as much as I like that flat black style that was once so popular. IOW, I liked it for about 15 minutes, now it’s just old.
      Finally: my Mom’s 50 Plymouth was the same color as the wheels on this car but by the time she bought it it was kind of chalky looking. If this wagon were mine, that is the color I would go with for sentimental reasons if nothing else.

      Like 2
  11. Howard A Member

    I think someone did exactly what should be done. Everything in America today has to be off the scale, a regular old V8 is perfect, disc brakes, and still retains a somewhat stock look. The chassis is more than stout enough, they were overbuilt. This look, especially in Cal. is going to be around for a while. I think it’s because they’ve been used to custom and pristine cars for so long, they’re probably bored with it, and rusty cars, that most of us are used to, are new to them. Just a fad, I hope. This is a great vintage wagon, done right.

    Like 6
  12. bobhess bobhess Member

    Rebolt the right rear fender on straight, paint it and go have some fun. Nice build.

    Like 3
    • Little_Cars

      Yeah, that rear fender is off…maybe he used new holes because the original mountings were rusted away. That, and the chrome trim may also be unlevel. Plays tricks on the eyes in that one photo. I agree with all the comments about chroming and repainting. This patina just looks sad/lazy on a car that needs all the help it can get in the glamour department!

      Like 1
  13. Joe Haska

    I had a 51, that I converted into a Woody, it was a neat car and always got allot of attention. It was just the opposite of this car, the cosmetics were over the top but the drive train was stock. After, I sold it the new owner took it to a shop ,that put in ,all new late model Chrysler components. I saw it when it was finished and even drove it. It was awesome, talk about sellers remorse! There are allot ot these wagons that have been turned into “Restomods” and even a few with wood. They are special cars. From experience if I could buy this one, I would do paint and cosmetics ,no wood. The stock drive train limits the use of the car. The wood did the same ,because I always worried about wheather and how it would effect the wood finish. In my opinion this car could be a good buy ,depending what your pllan is?

  14. deak stevens

    You can get these cars already restored for $9,000.i seen a real nice one on barn finds about a year ago, everything was was done just needed paint for$8,000

  15. Ramon

    He must have meant partially restored. That is not completely restored. I dig it though. Would be a cool cruiser for 10k. Not a penny more.

  16. Bryan collins

    My name is Bryan and I built the car..I did everything from start to finish in 5 months and I did every single part of it by myself..I like the look of the car now and wouldn’t change a thing besides making all the brightwork nice..maybe even a copper finish instead of chrome..I didn’t paint it because color is a subjective item and I left that up to the next owner if the choose so..I used this car to see how my upholstery skills would pan out and I suppose I did ok…
    I appreciate the feedback and hope this goes to someone who likes the car as much as I do

    Like 11
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      I love it, Bryan! Great work and thanks for chiming in.

      Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Bryan, I do like the car, and painting is subjective, however, I think if you picked a nice color ,NOT sliver or black, made it look nice, be a much larger calling . Apparently, nobody wants to paint a car today, but if it’s already done, be a larger audience. I figure it would more than pay for a paint job. Very few resto-mods go through auctions looking like this. Rich people want shiny cars.
      Also, I missed the fact you are in Woodstock. ( the city, not the festival) I spent a summer near Ashokan Reservoir, and spent some time in Woodstock. What a cool place, home to some big names, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, to name a few. Is Father Woodstock still around?

      • Bryan Caine Collins

        He was still around last summer but I haven’t seen him lately. Regarding the paint and the Plymouth, I was ok with the way it looked and didn’t have the time to do a proper paint job. I just finished a 62 Impala before this car and the bodywork and paint alone took me 5 months. So I opted to just leave it.

      • Gaspumpchas

        I’m about 1/2 hour from Woodstock Proper, did you go to the Woodstock 69 concert. There’s a guy that went to the concert in 69 and never went home. He drives around the site where the stage was and parks his ford diesel pickup, and stares. License plate is YASGUR69. Harmless and cool. They say if you can remember the concert you weren’t there. Think I know who you mean Father Woodstock, he used to hang around in the village center with the aging hippies. Its all good. Sorry OT.

        Like 2
  17. Gregory Lietz

    I just want to comment on the editor’s comment about no 2 door wagons being produced after 65. I know that dodge’s cornet wagon had 2 and 4 door available in 70. We had one when I was a youngster and I’ve seen one in a salvage yard a few years ago.

    Like 1
    • don

      There were no two door wagons by Dodge in the U.S. in 1970 . The Mopar A bodied compacts had a two door wagon in the 60s , and that ended in 1966 . The last full size Mopar 2 door wagons was in 1961.

      • Major Thom

        No A-body two door wagons ever built. The Ford Falcon two-door wagon was available through 1965 though.

      • Jim ODonnell

        1965 “A” body, Chevelle, two-door station wagon.

      • Gregory Lietz

        There were in deed 2 door station wagons by Dodge. Cornet was a B body. We had a 70 2 door.

    • John Schiessl
  18. Wayne

    Howard A, exactly correct! Also I’m not so sure that the second addition 318 is heavier than that boat anchor flat head six. Plus some of that weight is farther back. One of these 2 door Mopar wagons is on my bucket list. I like the old rust patina sometimes, but not sure I like it here. Maybe just a little too much patina this time?
    Good job Bryan!

    Like 2
  19. Major Thom

    Jim ODonnell: reference was to A-body MOPARS, not GM.
    Nice try though.

    • Jim ODonnell

      Got it! Thx Major Thom.

  20. don

    I stand corrected – You’re 100% right Major Thom !

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