Two Birds: 1956 Powell Sport Wagon and Powell Scooter

A bit of an oddball, this rare and obscure Powel Sport Wagon is a low production truck that was built by the famous scooter company, who first made radios. Powell Manufacturing Company was recognized for their scooters, but grew to experiment with automobiles leading to this truck, and a limited run of some 150 station wagons. Having only built 1,020 trucks, rare and obscure are fair words to describe this Powell. In running condition, and with a 1954 Powell scooter included, this is like a rare dream come true. For the “two birds, one stone” asking price of $16,000 you can have the one truck at the show that will make everyone scratch their heads in wonder. Find it here on craigslist out of Cleveland, Georgia.

These Powell automobiles are fascinating. They were all built on 1941 Plymouth chassis’, most of which were purchased from wrecking yards in Southern California. The Plymouth automobiles were stripped, cleaned, and any parts used were rebuilt as needed. Engines and transmission came from Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth, some of which came from industrial and marine applications. This particular engine is clean and tidy and is in good running condition. There is a slight amount of dust on top of the air cleaner, so I would assume this truck gets a fair amount of sleep.

Inside of this interesting machine is a lovely red and white interior. The gauge cluster, and steering column are Plymouth items. With a simple, and clean appearance, this Sport Wagon is in nice order. The steering wheel has some condition issues, and the black trim around the dash is a little wavy. Otherwise this Powell is nice.

Despite this Powell’s boxy looks, there are a few curves thrown into the mix to really lend to its different yet, interesting style. In my eyes, the front end reminds me a bit of a Land Rover. Some other interesting facts about these Powells is that their body panels were welded directly to the Plymouth chassis. One very cool, and futuristic feature this Powell offers is a fishing rod compartment in the passenger side of the truck bed. With this feature, you will always be prepared to drop by your favorite fishing hole. Straight, and clean, this Powell looks to exist without fault. I am certain there may be some minor things that the photos may be obscuring, but otherwise, this truck is clean. But don’t forget, for this Purchase price you also get a matching Powell Scooter!

Although described as a “scooter” this P-81 is more of a lightweight motorcycle as it features a 393cc single cylinder 4 stroke engine. Restored and beautiful, this is a fantastic match to the Powell truck. Seeming much like the ultimate camping duo, having a motorcycle to get around, and the truck with its fishing rod compartment, this pair of Powells can motivate you on two wheels, four wheels, or a few (fishing) reels. Have you ever seen a Powell automobile or “scooter” in person?

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Comments

  1. Adam T45 Staff

    Powell Motors. Is there anything that The Simpsons don’t know?

  2. JW454

    This little hauler seems to be in pretty good condition. For a no frills pick up it looks as though it would have served the needs of the occasional do-it-your-selfer. If you were considering an upstart automotive company in the fifties, this approach seems to be as good as any other.

    I like it.

  3. Dan

    You have already featured this combination May 5, 2014. It was on craiglist in Hoover Alabama. Liked it then and I still like it now.

  4. Howard A Member

    Sum ting fishy here. ( and it’s not the fishing pole storage.) 1st, quite possibly THE rarest vehicle(s) to come thru here in a while. I’d have to think flippers are jumping over each other to get this, if it’s legit. Heck, I’d think the bike alone would be worth this, the way things are going. There was one truck on Hemmings a while back with an “inquire” price tag, so you know what that means, price so sky high, we can’t publish it. Always thought these were too “generic” looking, and a lot of engineering seemed to go into that fishing pole storage, ( which I believe, was touted as a tool storage). Still, absolutely “nonfindium”, both vehicles, seems they should go for a million dollars, why not?

    • Bobsmyuncle

      While I don’t disagree the price seems fishy, rare doesn’t make valuable as you know.

      People these days seem to be paying for ‘cool’ status, and the unknown isn’t necessarily cool.

  5. Coventrycat

    For 16k I hope you get some windshield wipers with it. The 1940 GMC fire truck posted a couple days ago was missing them too.

  6. Howard A Member

    One more thing, Brian calls this a “Sport Wagon”, when it’s really the “Sport Truck”. The “Sport Wagon” looked like this. http://www.allpar.com/photos/vimages/powell/sport-wagon.jpg

    • redwagon

      thanks howard a. i was wondering what the wagon version would look like, should have guessed it would be an enclosed bed version of the p-up.

  7. Rock On Member

    Has been posted for a month now.
    Interesting!

  8. Drew V

    I have never seen either one, truck or scooter, in person but from the pictures I’ve seen I would gladly drive and/or ride these wonderfully looking machines… I love the tread-plate tailgate… Utilitarian construction at its best…

  9. Gear Head Engineer

    As a long time product development and engineering manager, I can’t help but wonder how a product like this goes from idea to execution. I picture a board or leadership meeting and someone starts with “I was thinking…” How does the management team decide it’s a good idea to go into production with a truck based on ten+ year old junkyard frames? Or to take engineering and development resources from the core business and have them design a truck?

    I can only imagine there was a Mr. Powell who did whatever he wanted, and he wanted a truck. So his staff did the best they could on what was probably a very limited budget.

    Back to our regularly scheduled programming, this truck/scooter combo is in really great shape. Seems like a lot of uniqueness for a fairly low price.

    – John

    • David Frank David F Member

      Thank you for the view from an engineering and business perspective. In the early years luxury car body builders drew their designs full size, single dimension, on a shop wall. Perhaps this design was not far removed from that method.

    • Ed P

      The boss man was Powell Crowley. His company made radios and refrigerators. Anyone know what else they made?

      • Mike

        Powell-Peralta skateboards?
        ;)

      • Dustin

        Not true. Powel (one L) Crosley built Crosley radios up until the late 1930s when he started building Crosley cars, wagons, and trucks. They were cheap and about as small as a Mini. They were made until the 1950s.

    • GaryC GaryC

      They say that behind every successful man is a woman. If his taste in women were similar to his taste in cars, I see behind him a large pretty woman who could clean fish, change out a rod bearing and still have dinner on the table before dark.

  10. Steven Tamer

    In todays market thats a good price..Bikes awesome!!

  11. redwagon

    rarity and condition aside is anyone else bummed that the truck and bike don’t color match?

    • Leaf36

      Agree

  12. Leaf36

    This is the coolest thing I’ve never seen! Perfect combo.

  13. geezerglide85

    I think that Mr. Powell was Powell Crosley. He made his money making radios then the Crosley car. I’ve heard of the sport truck but didn’t know about the scooters.

    • Dustin

      Powel Crosley built radios and Crosley cars.

  14. Howard A Member

    Ok, we’re getting off track here. This truck was not made by Powel Crosley, of Crosley cars and radios. The Powell brothers, Hayward and Channing,also dabbled in radios, but were not near as successful as Crosley was. ( thank you Wikipedia) The thing that surprises me, is this was mostly off the shelf parts from other successful cars, but repurposed into something like this, and falls flat. Powell made most of their money with the scooters after the war.

    • Ed P

      I stand corrected.

    • Dustin

      Thank you for getting the facts right.

      • Rex Kahrs Member

        Speaking of getting facts right….the badging on the truck and the scooter show the Powell name spelled with two “L”s.

  15. Rex Kahrs Member

    I was looking at the photo of the door card, and I can’t figure out how the windows go up and down. I assume the little hook thingy is for opening the door from the inside?

    • Leaf36

      It is curious, good eye. Passenger side looks to be slid open.

    • David Wilk Member

      Powell windows were sliding only, no up and down. Also no defroster was installed. Since most were sold in California, maybe they figured it did not matter. One interesting fact about Powell – they only stopped making these 1/4 ton pickups because they ran out of Plymouth frames in wrecking yards. When they stopped production they had orders in hand. $1100 for a “new” car in 1956 was pretty reasonable.

  16. mark

    I have never heard of the Powell brand of cars. This one looks great and the bike is a nice touch. This combo is one for the collector that thought they had everything. Great find!

  17. Pappy2d

    Is that a Comet torque converter on the scooter?

  18. dogwater

    I think I would want to see it in person. might be a good deal if so would
    be fun at a car show

  19. G 1

    I would think it would be prone to body stress cracking.

  20. Mark S

    I’ll bet that if you looked at the build quality on both the truck and the bike you would find that the only thing good about them is the Plymouth chassie and engine. The rest would the equal to or worse than a Lada or a Niva. I know I’m going to take some heat over this comment, but I think this thing is a heap of smouldering $h!t. I wouldn’t want it even it it were free. Same goes for the bike, I’ll bet there is three hours of fixing for every hour of riding. JMHO😎

  21. Jim Benjaminson

    First, to clarify – they were all “Sport Wagons” – whether pickup or station wagon body. Sales literature and emblems on the vehicles verify that. They were the brain child of Hayward and Channing Powell and the very first one was built on a Chevrolet chassis. All the rest were Plymouth chassis. The trucks were built in a plant in Compton, California between 1955 and 1957 (possibility of at least one “58”). In addition to radios and scooters, they also built three motor homes but never patented that idea. The Sport Wagon was advertised as the least expensive “new” car when it was introduced.

    • Howard A Member

      Thank you , Jim, for the info and the photo.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        For some reason I am not seeing Jims photo?

      • Howard A Member

        Hi leiniedude, Jim’s photo was the one in my link.

  22. TopJimmy5150

    They have a Powell Wagon at the Antique Auto museum in Hershey, PA. Complete with the same fishing pole storage compartment and a bolstered roof so you can fish while sitting on top of the car.

    http://www.aacamuseum.org/family-affair-station-wagons/

    • whippeteer

      No picture on their site though.

  23. Ed Williams

    These are rare. I grew up in Los Angeles and remember only rarely seeing one of these Powell’s on the street but because of their publicity I knew what they were.
    Also when I was going to Emerson Jr. High in Westwood there were a few Powell scooters owned by students there. They were highly regarded by boys who had paper delivery routes as the canvas newspaper bags could be hung over the scooter’s rear bodywork and carry a big heavy load.

  24. Ed P

    Paper boys are extinct in my area. If you told a youngster to get a job like that they wonder what you are talking about

  25. Stan Segebart

    I own this beauty now in Hot Springs Ar.
    without the scooter.

  26. Dustin

    Odd thing — these trucks were unibodies, predating the unibody Fords of the 1960s.

  27. Tim Burns

    Hey Stan, is that a Citroen next to your Powell?

    Like 1
  28. Stan Segebart

    Yes cv
    Sold 3 years ago

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