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Lake Worth, Texas: Plymouth Dealers Examine Show Chassis

Today’s featured images were taken on September 17, 1940, at the Lake Worth Skeet and Gun Club and the occasion may have been the introduction of the new 1941 Plymouth or a local new car show. The City of Lake Worth, TX, is located about eight miles northwest of the City of Fort Worth. All of the men in the photos are identified as local Plymouth dealers.

The show chassis apparently was one of several prepared by the manufacturer that traveled around the country to Plymouth dealerships and the car show circuit at the new model introduction time. Highlights of the chassis preparation are the finely-painted and chrome-plated engine, transmission, and chassis with white rubber highlights, backed up by a faux dashboard of book-matched figured wood.

View photos of a 1952 Plymouth show chassis, and a Kodachrome version of it here in earlier posts. Share with us what you find of interest in these photos courtesy of the University of Texas  Arlington.     

32 responses to “Lake Worth, Texas: Plymouth Dealers Examine Show Chassis

  1. From a time when car makers were truly interested in the public knowing what they were buying. Ok, the production models didn’t have chrome fans and generator shields, but the public could relate to what was going on. The “cutaways” were always the most interesting to me. The latest in mechanical engineering, which was changing fast. Not like today, where auto shows boast the latest phone/radio technology and chilled( or heated) cup holders, with probably no mention what’s under the hood, and probably just as well. Someday, soon, the only business you’ll have under the hood, is to add windshield washer fluid, even that can be handled elsewhere. There will be no hood release, see dealer for access, if any.

    • Yes, at one time the public actually cared about a cars mechanical specifications.
      Today’s brochures…if you can find one…take more space discussing the electronics (GPS, Sat Nav, Bluetooth) than the engine, brakes suspension.
      You know, the “little” stuff…

  2. I see two interesting items. White rubber radiator hose and belt. That must have been a challenge. And the fact that the frame, in 1941 was a boxed, much stronger frame. GM was using the weak “X” frame as late as 1964 and on the Riviera through 1970.
    Chrysler engineering was clearly advanced.

    • These photos brought back memories of the businessman’s uniform of that era: suits (some double-breasted), white shirts, neckties, polished shoes, clean-shaven countenance and Wildroot Cream Oil hair tonic. Can’t tell by looking, but they were probably courteous to strangers, as well. Times change.

      • I was looking at the guy with the open jacket. Pants are about 3 – 4 inches above the waist line, the tie looks like it came from the Grapes of Wrath.

        I’m judging, but I wore bell bottoms and plaid back in the day. Seemed like a good idea back then.

        The guy probably owns the dealership and everyone else works for him.

        • The gentleman with the short tie seems to me to be the financial type. If I can read his thoughts; it is ” That air cleaner is ridiculous. I could have sourced it for 10 cents less. Just joking . He may be the dealership owner.

      • Well, yes it was a different era and although i find it hard to get excited about a flathead 6 with a full set of chrome doodads, I guess it went over well at the time. Wonder what Plymouth sales were at the time in view of the Flathead V8 of Ford and the OHV 6 of Chevy. Seems Chevy sold almost more than both Plymouth and Ford combined, first to top 1 million cars produced. Plymouth was still touting the advantages of L-heads even though the writing was on the wall for their demise (funny that the Soviets used these engines in the AFV’s for years during and after the war!

        • GAZ, licensee of Ford, made a licensed copy of the Model A, but later on switched to Dodge engines, 6 cylinder 3.3 liter L-heads. This engine was used by the forerunner of the KGB and in military vehicles. This developed into the GAZ-11 I think, which was further developed into the GAZ-40P engine used in AFV’s. Two of these were used side by side in a 6×6 AFV that was used in Egypt and in Afghanistan. I viewed one captured by the Israelis in 1973, and it looked pretty similar to the Plymouth pictured here, though it evolved somewhat. They didn’t do too well in the heat and altitude of Afghanistan, leaving some scared young men stranded in the middle of bandit country at times!

          • You can find a picture of the BTR-60P and a nice under the hood shot of the twin engines at: with the normal http in front and htm on the tail. Hope this doesn’t constitute an infraction of the very valuable no link posting rule. if not, just scroll down to 8/8/13 for the info on a long lived Chrysler design….LOL!

      • I learned to drive standard on my grandfather’s 41 Plymouth and remember well opening the hood and seeing this tall “coffee pot”. What’s more the engine itself looked like it was about a foot below the hood opening. It seemed awfully dark in there.

  3. The last time I saw something similar to that was the cutaway V8 engine on display for years in the lobby of the GM building in New York.An electric motor revolved the whole thing and little teeny light bulbs in the end of the spark plugs went on and off to illustrate ignition.

  4. Those dealers may look impressed but with that engine having only 87hp the 1941 Plymouth was definitely an under performing car. I did not know until recently, but Plymouth did not get a V-8 engine until 1955, the same year that Chevrolet, Pontiac, AMC, and Packard did. The 1954 model still used the old inline 6 cylinder engine and with only 110 hp. No wonder that sales for that year were very sluggish.

    • Well, 87 hp isn’t much, but to keep it in perspective, the 41 Chevy six and the 41 Ford V8 each had only 90 hp. Plus, Plymouth had an optional higher compression 92 hp engine.

    • Inline sixes were the base engines for many cars and into the 60d.
      I have a custom with a Ford 223, introduced in the mid-50s and offered until 1964. It was replaced with a larger six which found a home in Falcons, Fairlanes and the like as well as trucks.
      It has 138 hp and is more than adequate for most murposes.
      Remember, not everyone did freeway driving then and trucks were used for work.

  5. Not so sure that the 87 h.p.’41 Plymouth was all that “underperforming” when compared with Chevrolet and Ford, each claiming 90 h.p. — but lacking Plymouth’s overdrive, which combined a peppy lower axle ratio with a longer-legged top gear than the other two. As the Europeans had figured out well before most American auto builders caught on, optimal gearing can do much to overcome anemic horsepower ratings.

    • It is a well known fact that Plymouths were stodgy cars speed wise throughout the 1940’s and up until the mid 50’s. For example, “How Stuff Works” states in regards to the ’40 Plymouth that: “Though 1940 prices began as low as $645, Plymouths remained a bit costlier than equivalent Fords. They also remained noticeably slower than Dearborn’s V-8/85s despite a token two extra horsepower for 1940.” The fastest small car on the road that year was the Hudson Traveler that could reach speeds of over 90mph. The top speed for a 1941 Plymouth by comparison is listed at only 77 mph and the 1946 Plymouth at only 79 mph. Our family had a “Boxy” 1949 Plymouth for several years in the late 50’s and early 60’s and boy did that car ever have slow pick up and couldn’t do much more than about 80mph. Chryslers car in general remained under performers until 1952 when they introduced their new Hemi-V8 engine and that changed everything as they essentially went from last to first as far as engine performance goes and began winning stock car races big time – and often with Lee Petty at the wheel!

          • Yes, it was 1951 that the new hemi engines were introduced for the Chrysler cars, then ’52 for Desoto and ’53 for Dodge. As for Plymouth, in 1955 they received a new V-8 engine called the Poly, short for Polyspheric, which used the same engine block as the hemi but with different cylinder heads, but was nicked named the Hy-Fire. It had a 177 hp engine and its top speed was listed at 98 mph. They still kept on making their old 6 cylinder engines en mass however due to a shortage of V-8’s available. That engine was considerably weaker at 117 hp and with a top speed listed at only 86 mph. The new 1956 Plymouth Fury though was a real speed demon reaching a top speed of 143 mph at Daytona Beach and with 240 hp under the hood for its regular production models.

  6. I remember a “cutaway” car as recently as the ’90’s.
    I had a Saturn and the dealer had a cutaway mostly illustrating the removable nature of the plastic panels on the car.

  7. Hmmm — while I’m not much of a MoPar guy (GM born and bred!), I can’t help but think that to expect more than 75-80 mph out of any low-priced 1940s car is a tad unreasonable. Consider, for example, the semi-pressure-semi-splash babbitt-bearing ’40s/early’50s Chevrolet engines, which by all accounts would go to an early grave if held continuously much above 60 mph.

    • Yes, that’s very true about those late 40’s and early 50’s Chevrolets. A 1946 Chevrolet for example with its Blue Flame Inline 6 had only 83hp and could reach a top speed of only 70mph of which it took over 40 seconds to reach. By comparison, a 1946 Flat Head V-8 Ford could do about 90 mph; and I read that those early 50’s Chevy’s were not very well manufactured as they had a tendency to break down a lot. So they were even worse than the old Plymouths performance wise and not nearly as well built. But 1955 changed everything for Chevrolet – as it also did for Plymouth – when they introduced their new small block V-8, which I believe they still use today. There is a good documentary on Youtube called “The Fast One – ’55-’57 Chevy” which tells just how revolutionary that new engine and also design was at that time.

    • Fifteen months later the US was at war, civilian car manufacturing ended soon after, and displays like this would not be needed for an indefinite time. Meanwhile, citizens both human and corporate were asked to make any spare metal available for the production of military materiel so it seems likely the display was turned in for scrap, another casualty of war.

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