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A Busy Day at the Plymouth Plant – The Last of the 1942’s

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The copy that came with this press photo from January 30, 1942 states that completed cars were coming off the assembly line at the rate of three a minute when it was shot. There was good reason for all that hustle: the line would shut down to retool for war production at midnight on the 31st. They still managed to crank out 152,427 units in that abbreviated model year, slightly fewer than Ford but nowhere near the more than 254,000 that would roll out the door at Chevrolet.

While most were eagerly snapped up by civilian buyers, we’ve heard that some were held in reserve for later sale to essential service agencies. Any information you might have on the subject would be most welcome. All U.S. car production would cease in early February. You can take a look back and see more than two hundred pages of photos from the nineteen twenties, thirties and early forties on The Old Motor. Photo courtesy of the Benjamin Ames Collection.

5 responses to “A Busy Day at the Plymouth Plant – The Last of the 1942’s

  1. As mentioned, much of the 1942 inventory was put in storage & I believe placed under the control of the OPA. (office of price administration) In order to acquire a new vehicle, one had to contact the OPA to get a Purchase Order Request and price along with OPA approval to complete the purchase of a specific vehicle in inventory. That is pretty much the story as I remember my father telling what he had to do to acquire a brand new 42 Dodge & later a 47 Desoto Custom Club Coupe.

  2. I can’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of the men in that photograph. One month after Pearl Harbor, and their world was changing.

    Tom M.

  3. A late friend of mine told me of his time during WWII serving in the Merchant Marine. He claimed that at least two trips were made to South America loaded with 1942 Plymouths and Dodges. I don’t understand where they went or why, but he told me at least twice that they delivered “dozens and dozens” of them down there. Anybody have any ideas on this? My parents told of how they finally got a car in 1949 by waiting at the Plymouth dealer for the truck to come in. Dad was able to buy the last Plymouth off the truck, before any were even unloaded. No test drive, not tire kicking, cash only.

  4. As a lieutenant in the Army Air Force, my dad was sent to help open a new air base in the Texas Panhandle in early 1943. Since there were no married officers’ quarters on base, he had to commute from the nearest town about 15 miles away. Consequently he was authorized to buy a new car. I was barely three years old, but I can clearly remember going down to the dealer with my parents to pick out one of two remaining 1942 Studebakers. I don’t recall what the other model was, but he picked a two-tone green President 4-door sedan with fender skirts. It was a lot more car than he would have chosen if cheaper cars had been available; his taxable income for 1943 was under $1000! This was our family car until 1950.

  5. What was interesting about the shutdown was that not all manufacturing stopped on the same day. Some makes stopped production earlier than others.

    The cars built in January 1942 were known as “blackout” cars, because the only brightwork allowed were chromed bumpers. The grille, medallions, hubcaps, all window and body trim, were painted metal instead of chrome.

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