A Tall Tale: 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook

When fresh car designs began appearing after the war, the new look was low and streamlined. Plymouth, however, stuck with cars tall enough that one could sit upright and still have room for your hat. My father bought a used one in 1954 but soon traded it in because “it leaned too much”. He bought a new blue 1955 Chevy. This Plymouth listed on eBay in Madison, Wisconsin appears to be a low mileage survivor. It’s being sold by a dealer with an asking price of $6,500, a bit lower than the $9,500 dealer price. The seller says it is “a joy to drive”. It appears to have been repainted but otherwise looks very original. However, one has to wonder why there are no pictures of the right-hand side and just how this old Plymouth managed to survive.

It does look original inside. There are stains on the seat upholstery and no doubt something unpleasant hidden under the blanket and in the shadows on the driver’s side. The armrest is threadbare and the upholstery on the door card is torn by the door handle, so it’s showing some miles. The back seat looks like it’s had little use.

It looks unloved under the hood, but very original and undisturbed. That ground cable and perhaps the coil might be new. This looks just like what I remember seeing at gas stations in the 1960s every time I checked the oil on old cars like this. However, the view when cleaning windshields was sometimes much more memorable!

We’ll just have to wonder about the right-hand side, but this end looks OK. The chrome is pitted and worn, but nice enough for a driver quality car. If this Plymouth is as rust free as the dealer claims, it will be a really nice driver. These old Plymouths are reliable and easy to work on. I’d want to add AC but I might not even bother getting the upholstery fixed. This is no tri-five and there’s not much potential for performance, but what a grand old driver this could be.


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  1. Madmatt

    This would look great with some torque thrust/Cragar wheels,
    and some modern rubber,..lowered just a bit..?
    I like it just the way it is though..!Very nice shape,
    from what we can see.I don’t think I’ve seen one of these
    in quite a while..?,and price seems pretty fair.It would
    be a nice,simple older car,that could be fun to own and drive,
    without being a burden…as some are..!Nice Plymouth..!

  2. Derek

    I’ve always liked Plymouths of this era, and I’ve owned several of them, they are well built, sturdy, and dependable cars – even if not particularly stylish. That said, I also have to say that this one looks very stylish indeed in comparison to those more modern cars in the picture backgrounds!

  3. SMS

    There is something I like about a frumpy car like this. You drive it because you like it. Sort of like a nice old comfortable sweater. Would love one of these as a wagon.

  4. Moparruner

    I had one of these in the 60’s in high school. It was my first car and I paid $50.00 for it.The floor was like the Flintstones. It had an aluminum plate for the floor. I beat the crap out of it and it took it. I put 4 winter treads on it in the winter and I never got stuck. Low gear syncro didn’t exist unless you reved the engine to match speed. I loved it.

  5. Beatnik Bedouin

    Lessee… Dual carbs, Edmunds high compression head, split exhaust through 24″ glasspacks and it would be just about right.

    I’m with SMS with regards to the wagons…

  6. rallyace

    I have a 51 Plymouth Cambridge and love it. It is not your run of the mill old Chevy that you see all the time. Is it true that there are more 57 Chevys on the road now than were ever built?? The engine compartment looks like it needs a day or so of detailing and the radiator probably leaks, that is just typical for a 67 year old car. The interior looks rough so I would be really suspect of the floors, especially under the A pillars. If a dealer wants $9500 and will accept $6500 then there are rust problems that are not being shown. One more thing, these old flatheads tend to leak oil rather profusely when they get old, especially from the rear seal. No big deal to fix and parts are readily available. There are a couple of forums out there that may have members that know about this car. The old Mopar groups are pretty good and are very open to requests for information. One is the Plymouth Club on Facebook and another is p15-d24.com.

  7. Steve H.

    I owned a ’52 Cranbrook sedan back in the early 70’s and it was an old car even then! The engines as mentioned are dependable to a fault and have pretty good torque, but not much on the top end. I do love these cars, the way they drive and how they look. 3 on the tree! Stodgy is how my buddy used to describe it.

    I see it sold for $6500. Now I’m wondering if it really did have rust issues as rallyace describes above.

  8. Tort Member

    These cars have grown on me that last few years probably because they are something other than a Chevy or Ford. If I owned it I would redo the interior to stock as close as possible and just go for a ride from time to time.

  9. Maestro1

    David thank you, nice car, hope the ride side is similar to the left.

  10. Michael S

    Of the “low-priced three” [Ford, Chevrolet, & Plymouth] 4 door sedans for 1951, the Plymouth height was 64.375, the Ford was 64.6875, and the Chevrolet was 65.75 [according to classicardatabase.com].

  11. Chuck

    In the late 50’s we owned a ’51 Plymouth Cranbrook that we had purchased from the original owner with 17K miles, who lived next door. He bought the car new and loaded it with options like turn signals, back-up lights, two speed electric wipers, radio, and a high output heater. The only problem with it was that if a dog peed on the right rear tire, it wasn’t going to start. That flat head 6 didn’t like any kind of moisture at all. IT rode good, though, and I remember when my Dad traded it in, he was a given $25 for it in 1964. Oh, if we only knew then what we know now!!!

  12. guggie

    in 1965 my uncle had a new Mercury , and a 1951 Plymouth 4 door , I noticed he drove the Plymouth more than the Mercury .When I ask him why his reply was that old Plymouth is a nice smooth old car that just fits me !!

  13. Leon

    A friend of mine growing up had a 1950 2-door Plymouth. When it rained a lot, sometimes it wouldn’t start. He would remove the dist.cap and wad up a kleenex tissue and put it in the cap, held upside down and light it. when it went out it would start right up. Moisture I guess. Many times the seam in the hood would leak rain and it would fill the spark plug recesses with water also.

  14. Bruce Pettinger

    It is interesting that the author mentioned that the car leans on corners as I find that also happens with my 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook 4 door sedan. as a kid, my parents had a 1951 Dodge Regent 2 door club, essentially a Plymouth Cranbrook with Dodge badging. The one thing I remembered of that car was the poor to non existent heater.

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