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A True Barn Find: 1933 Plymouth Sedan

While everyone dreams of locating a legitimate “barn find,” there are only so many barns out there, and there are a finite number of cars residing in them.  However, every once in a while, often in areas where small family farms once dotted the landscape, a treasure emerges.  While years of neglect usually result in a car that needs a full restoration, this 1933 Plymouth four door sedan found on eBay has been cleaned up and is in running and driving condition.  It needs a little more work to safely cruise down the back roads of its current Ochlocknee, Georgia location, but it is a solid car that is a small amount of sweat and cash away from being a worthy addition to any collection.  Although the reserve has not been met, the $7100 current bid must be getting close.

1933 was a significant year for Plymouth, and the kind folks over at allpar.com have written a well researched history of Plymouths of that model year.  The Reader’s Digest version of the story is that Plymouth played catch up with Ford’s V-8 and Chevrolet’s inline six by coming out with an inline six of their own that was quite advanced for the day.  The only problem was that the engine was placed in a body that had a shorter wheelbase than the previous year’s four cylinder car.  Size mattered to early car buyers, and sales lagged for the improved car.  In an attempt to rectify the situation, the management brought over a larger Dodge chassis to produce a larger Plymouth, known as the Deluxe PD.  The shorter cars were thus called PCs.  While the exact model is not stated in the ad, this car resembles the PC shown in the allpar write up.

Regardless, this 1933 Plymouth is a strikingly good looking car.  Perhaps the march of time has made it look less short or misshapen to our eyes.  At any rate, I would want less car for the six cylinder engine to haul around anyway.  The flathead six that appeared in 1933 Plymouths for the first time had a long life, lasting until 1972 in industrial applications.  In addition, there are still a number of speed parts available for this engine.  While I wouldn’t expect tire shredding performance, an extra shot of horsepower would make driving this fairly lightweight Plymouth a pleasure.

The seller tells us that the car was found in a barn in Pennsylvania, and that it will need a full restoration.  Having said that, the seller also goes on to tell us that the car runs and drives.  It also has a leaking wheel cylinder and needs a battery.  What the seller does not discuss is rust, and the pictures lead us to believe that the car is likely rust free.  Scanning the photos a little closer, I cannot find any major missing parts either.  Furthermore, parts like the steering wheel, instruments, and all of the knobs and handles appear to be in good condition as well.

The only let down is the interior, but it is not realistic to expect a car that has spent a long time in a barn to be perfect in every way.  With barns come mice and rats, and the little bits of seat stuffing seen resting on the back seat might be clues that they were former tenants.  The good news about the interior is that there is more than enough left of the seats and door panels for an upholsterer to make proper patterns.  Of course, the glass and the window seals will have to be replaced as well.

Another thing to put on the list would be replacing the headliner and the roof insert (if it is the original).  Looking at the large expanse of area where the headliner once rested, it makes me wonder how they were replaced, and what material was used for backing.  If any of our readers have done this kind of work, or are knowledgeable in the process, please let us know.  It would be interesting to see how it was done back in the day and how the installation might be different now.

Above is the engine, which had 189.8 cubic inches, and put out 70 horsepower in original trim.  Buyers could also add a “Red Head” aluminum cylinder head with higher compression that allowed the engine to produce 76 horsepower.  The ad lists this car as having a four cylinder engine, but it is obviously in error.  Considering the likelihood that the car sat for decades, it is impressive to see that the seller has it running again.  While they are good engines, usually these “barn finds” are sold with gummed up and rusty fuel tanks, clogged fuel lines, and carburetors desperately in need of a rebuild.  Most are a long way away from driving condition.

So, if you bought it, what would you do with it?  If it were mine, I think I would reupholster it, replace the glass and window seals, go through the mechanicals thoroughly, and drive it as it looks now.  The unrestored exterior has a certain charm of its own, and it would be neat to drive as it sits.  Plymouths were good cars during this era, but they tend to be not as highly valued as Fords of the same era.  That’s a shame, as they were a more advanced automobile in many ways.  Hopefully this pretty Plymouth will get to soon spend some time on the road to make up for all those wasted decades in the barn.

Comments

  1. grant

    With the caveat that I know little about prewar Plymouth products, I’m pretty sure chicken wire wasn’t used in headliners originally. This is a cool car, regardless.

    • Derek

      Actually, yes it was!

      Like 1
      • grant

        Really? Wow. That’s why I like this site, I learn something new everyday. Thanks!

        Like 1
  2. KSwheatfarmer

    Definitely chicken wire in headliner

    Like 2
  3. Fred w.

    Wonder how many shops even know how to replace the roof these days?

    • Tim

      Plenty, really. Standard stuff in thousands of restoration shops across the country.

      Like 1
  4. mark

    Great find. Clean it up really well. Make sure it is safe and drive it! This would make a great car to occasionally drive to work. It would definitely attract attention and would be a conversation at the gas station when filling up.

  5. joeinthousandoaks

    All of these early thirties cars had “soft” roof centers reinforced with wood and chicken wire. They didn’t have the presses large enough to stamp a roof panel at the time. This is a great looking car with the 4 suicide doors.

    Like 2
  6. LAB3

    I’m in agreement with the writer on this one. Make it run, turn and stop properly, get the upolstery done and leave the exterior as is. There’s a certain amount of charm to an “honest” car!

  7. Davey

    With the wire on the roof, is this a “Chicken Coupe”

    Like 1
    • Tim

      With 4 doors, it is more appropriately a chicken “sedan”

      Like 1
    • Allen Member

      No, it’s a chicken sedan!

  8. pat gill

    When I bought my restored 29 Dodge DA the seller insisted I also bought his 33 plymouth 5 window coupe project, that was 13 years ago, still have the DA but sold the Plymouth project, the guy I sold it to just contacted me to say he has finished restoring it, NOT rodding it, the cars were located in Westville South Africa and I was on holiday from the UK, paid £1800.00 for both……………..hard to refuse!

    Like 1
  9. Moparruner

    I would clean up and do the interior. Then I would clean up the outside and clear coat it to keep the old car look.

  10. Jerry Brentnell

    if this was mine I would find a 225 slant 6 engine and 5 speed trans out of a aspen and this set up is almost a direct bolt in ! in fact slant six industrial engines even had the bolt holes taped to use the front motor mount of this engine we put a slant six out of a combine in a 36 plymouth coupe went in there like it was made to be there

  11. Wayne

    The seller did discuss rust. The Ebay ad says completely rust free.

  12. JimmyinTEXAS

    Bid is $8100. Appears reserve is met. Someone is going to get a nice project.

  13. Mikes hot rod shop

    Upgrade to modern running gear, suspension, and brakes. Add a/c if needed. Restore interior. Leave everything else untouched. Keep the original removed components.

  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Chrysler products were ahead of Ford and GM with hydraulic brakes, but definitely needed some extra kick in the pants to keep up with the competition. My dad drove a 39 Dodge 7 passenger sedan all through WW11 and into the 50’s before finally putting it to rest on his farm outside Redding, California.

  15. Allen Member

    My first car, back in 1956, was a ’37 Plymouth. I believe that was the first year of the all-steel roof, but with that same wonderful gutless but incredibly smooth flathead six. I’m tickled to learn that the slant-six (which had to be really good to replace that already-legendary flat-head) is practically a bolt-in swap, but outside of power concerns, I don’t see that much advantage. The original power-train would serve very well. At least by 1937, many Chrysler products were offered with the Borg Warner overdrive. I wouldn’t mind making that change, but aside from that, I would want the look and the sound of the original.

  16. Mark Arroyo

    A beautiful car from its era.A well deserved restoration would definitely make it complete am I the only one intrigued on the history of the vehicle, the first thing was it a get away vehicle or perhaps the layman’s ride.Just awesome to think about.

  17. George

    Plan on doing exhaust work, looks like flex tubing on the head pipe.Still great car.

  18. gaspumpchas

    Nice looking in its stock form, Someone will have fun with this beauty!!

  19. Wayne

    I thought that the Aspens had a 4 speed overdrive not a 5 speed.
    Did I miss something over the years?

  20. Jim Benjaminson

    The chicken wire was not only standard but was used as the radio antennae – a wire ran up the right side windshield post that connected to the mesh to under the dash if you chose to pop for the optional Transitone radio. The wood framework is held in place with screws (from the bottom up) and bolts (cross ways) – the framework lays in a trough and its bolted to the car. Standard padding and weatherproof material finish the project. Once in place, bolts and screws back in, a sealer is applied around the exterior perimeter to prevent water leakage. The headliner has tabs sewed to the underside (the up side from inside the car) and is tacked into place working your way forward from the rear crossbeam. Once the middle of the headliner is in place, the edges are pulled taunt to the sides, front & rear and tacked into place. There is tacking strips all along inside the body. Then the side panels are put in place, starting at the bottom edge of the seat, working your way upward, tacking the material into place. Once those pieces are in place a hide-em welt is tacked around the inside perimeter, the garnish moldings and windshield header go into place and you’re done….simple, straight forward and not a tack or nail showing….

    Like 1
    • Jeff Bennett Staff

      Thanks! I’ve always wondered how this was done.

  21. Jim Benjaminson

    Its a PD Deluxe

  22. BOB MACKIE

    Somebody finally came up with the reason for the chicken wire. My folks had a 1936 Plymouth and it had a chicken wire antenna in the roof. Yes believe it or not that was standard equipment and it worked. I love those six cylinder Chrysler products. The antenna worked good too.

    Like 1

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