Wagon Ho! 1959 Plymouth Sport Suburban

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The term “land yacht” has been used to describe large American cars for a long time. Maybe this one should be called a Prairie Schooner! This 1959 Plymouth Sport Suburban 9-passenger wagon takes the idea to the extreme; this is a BIG car! Yes, there’s some rust and some rough spots, but the basic structure here looks sound if you want a classic that can haul 9 folks around. It’s located in Palm Desert, California and is listed for sale here on eBay at what I think is a low buy-it-now price.

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Perhaps those fins could be sails? On another note, I’m actually pretty surprised that Plymouth used the name “Suburban” as Chevrolet had used the name since 1933. As far as this Sport Suburban goes, from the pictures you can see there’s plenty of surface rust, but not a lot of rust-through. The lower rear quarters are an issue, however. The seller tells us that this wagon was produced on the first day of 1959 production, although they don’t explain how they figured that out. Based on this site it looks like it was the 326th one produced.

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These closeup pictures show some of the issues with the body. I’m not sure if the front fender trim can be re-shaped or not–it does look like it’s a thin stamping rather than a casting, but I don’t know for sure. As far as the rear fender and tailgate go, they’ll obviously take a lot of work. I’m interested in the embedded rubber in both bumpers and the tailgate rub strips; I don’t think this appeared on most cars until the mid 1960’s.

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On the one hand, this is a really cool dash with a great period steering wheel. On the other hand, I think a large portion of the overmolding of the rim is missing (based on images I was able to compare to), and the interior is completely trashed! The wagon originally had dual air conditioning so that the kids watching the world go by backwards were kept comfortable as they waved at traffic. There’s also some rust in the floors according to the seller.

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Unlike the 1959 Suburban Josh featured in 2014, this one has a V8! The seller describes it as a 318, with a two barrel carburetor having replaced the original four barrel. Maybe an attempt at improving fuel economy? I wonder where the radiator went? More importantly, is this a project you’d be willing to take on? Let us know in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Moparmann Member

    This one looks like the one Sidney Poitier drove in “Lilies of the Field”(1963)! :-)

    • Robert White

      Lilies of the Field is a great movie, and I was thinking the same thing when I saw this car, but I think the car in the movie had a slightly different tailgate. Perhaps
      Jesse can track that car down that Sid Poitier drove in Lilies of the Field.

      Bob

      • Robert White

        I found Sidney’s car in Lilies of the Field 1963

        Bob

  2. John

    bring on the wagons and vans….love this stuff

  3. piper62j

    Big car, big project.. Call your banker…

  4. Blindmarc

    Seller has an intake with 4 bl. For the Polly head 318 listed in his parts for $600.

  5. Mark S Member

    After going through my 51 dodge and knowing the mountain of work that I put into it and still not done, and its a hardtop, this car is an over whelming amount of work, the interior alone will take hundreds of hours and thousand of dollars. It would be a fantastic car when completed but you are really going have to want a Plymouth wagon. I actually liked the 2014 post with the flathead six better.

  6. Jim Mc

    Big fan of old MoPars and I love this car! But even for its rarity, the price is waaaay too high. It needs -everything-. Looks like the radiator core is still there, but the rest of it…??
    And how are the rockers in decent shape but there are gaping holes in the floor on both the driver and passenger side?
    So you want the 4-bbl manifold for an extra six, bringing the total to $3500? Sorry, sir. No.
    Back in the day, this would have been a hundred bucks. Fine, we all know more these days, production totals, options, all understood. But really for the condition – including the extra manifold, $1500, $2G -tops-. And it’s going to cost a lot more to even get it roadworthy, much less any kind of half-way decent restoration. I think it’s worth the effort, though. What a great highway cruiser it once was and still could be.

    Little detail…..sweet City Of Industry license plate holder!

  7. Ed P

    What is amazing about this car is how little rust is on it. The 57-59 Plymouths were notorious for rust. It was almost as if the factory installed it. It is restorable but there is a lot of work here. Of the 57-59 Plymouths this has got to be the best looking dash of all of them.

  8. MountainMan

    Wow, it sure is rough….all over. I agree that its priced to high. Sometimes folks are just too proud of what they found and drug home. Hope it gets saved as it is really a cool old wagon but just not for me

  9. The Walrus

    I know many want to believe it’s still 1985 and this isn’t worth more than any other pile of oxide, but I respectfully disagree. Based on the August 2015 Old Cars Price Guide, this car is worth both $2900 without and $3500 with the manifold. To my eye its definitely a #5 car. Depending on your location, and as others have mentioned (about notorious ’57-’59 rust issues) it’s likely better than any 5 condition car most could find in their area. There are 2 other Suburban Wagon models listed for 1959, the 2 Dr Custom and the 4 Dr Custom. The Suburban Sport tracks about 20% higher at each condition level.

    Here’s the numbers:

    1959 Suburban, V-8, 122″ wb
    4d Spt Sta Wag – 6: $1,280 5: $3,840 4: $6,400 3: $14,400 2: $22,400 1: $32,000
    2d Cus Sta Wag – 6: $1,060 5: $3,180 4: $5,300 3: $11,930 2: $18,550 1: $26,500
    4d Cus Sta Wag – 6: $1,040 5: $3,120 4: $5,200 3: $11,700 2: $18,200 1: $26,000

    The book also adds 30% for Golden Commando V-8 and deducts 10% for 6 cyl. Obviously neither applies to the car listed here.

    Here’s what constitutes a 4, 5 or 6:

    4) GOOD: A drivable vehicle needing no, or only minor work to be functional. Also, a deteriorated restoration or a poor amateur restoration. All components may need restoration to be “excellent,” but the vehicle is mostly usable “as is.” This is a driver. It may be in the process of restoration or its owner may have big plans, but even from 20 feet away, there is no doubt that it needs a lot of help.

    5) RESTORABLE: Needs complete restoration of body, chassis and interior. May or may not be running, but isn’t weathered, wrecked and/or stripped to the point of being useful only for parts. This car needs everything. It may not be operable, but it is essentially all there and has only minor surface rust, if any rust at all. While presenting a real challenge to the restorer, it won’t have him doing a lot of chasing for missing parts.

    6) PARTS CAR: May or may not be running, but is weathered, wrecked and/or stripped to the point of being useful primarily for parts. This is an incomplete or greatly deteriorated, perhaps rusty vehicle that has value only as a parts donor for other restoration projects.

    • Steve

      Finally a sane response. It’s amusing that so many folks here are shocked, shocked I tell you, that a 55 year-old car for under $3k (which is about $400 in 1959 dollars) needs some serious work.

  10. RON

    it is unusual and restorable depending on who is doing it and who is paying fr it being done. since the inception of the so=called value guide has been available all old cars are over priced andovervalued. its kinda like a depression or a recession. it’s wheither you or out of a job or your neighor as to which classification it becomes. your beliefs or bill clinton’s definitions!!! define “is” lol

  11. Chris N

    Christine’s mom!

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I was going to say that it is Christine’s big brother – LOL!

  12. Fogline

    I like that it is listed as certified pre-owned.

    Looks like a money pit to me. Is there anything on it that doesn’t need repair?

    Interesting to look at but I don’t see this coming to a good end.

  13. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    just for the record….I’ve been wrong….and I will be wrong again…..this car has been listed before…..the price now is getting closer to what it’s worth for sure…..looks like there is already a 4 barrel Carter carb sitting on the old poly 318….did no one notice the a/c under the hood and the rear air…..had a 59 hardtop Belevdere….ran wrecking yards for years…the wagons were used to clean the yard up and crush…until they were gone and then the van’s took over the job…….

  14. Bill McCoskey

    This vehicle is equipped with the VERY rare dual A/C system, especially for Plymouths & Dodges. Yes, ’57 thru ’60 Mopars rusted terribly, almost as quickly as Studebakers rusted! This car, coming from So Cal, would have minimal rust as shown.

    A friend has an almost identical version in Europe, but not the 9-passenger like this one. His car was optioned with the 318 V8 & Powerflite 2-speed trans. Carpets, radio and clock were deleted on his car, but it has power windows, including the tailgate window!

    Because it’s a Sport Suburban wagon with Dual A/C and the bigger engine, I would definitely say it’s priced well. buy it, then source a parts car with decent trim, dash, etc.

    As for the Suburban name; long before Chevrolet began using the name on it’s vehicles, many other manufacturers used the Suburban name on wagons & commercial vehicles. The GM Suburban was the first of the “big 3” to do so, and it’s the one everyone thinks about. A couple of the smaller independent body builders for the Ford “T” used the Suburban name too in their literature, just like GM did. [If my memory is right, Chevrolet didn’t actually put an emblem with the name “Suburban” on a vehicle until after WW2.]

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