This extremely slick Plymouth Special Deluxe is one of those cars that takes a lot of time to truly appreciate. Sure, at first glance, it appears to be a mild but nicely done custom with some of the usual tricks you’d find in a hot rodding 101 book. But then, when you take a closer look, you see things like traditional trim, restored assembly line pieces and an original flathead engine that wears a bunch of period-correct speed equipment. That’s about the time that you’ll catch yourself saying “Yeah, this thing IS cool.” But hey, why stop there? Next thing you know you’re glancing inside the car to savor its exceptionally well-executed, yet understated, interior. Then, you’re taking a look under the car and noticing all the hand-fabrication that went into just its exhaust system, never mind its other components. And, after about 45 minutes, it occurs to you that you’re standing next to a ‘mild custom’ which absolutely blows you away via class and seductive details!
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, the best customs are that those seamlessly blur the line between what’s original and what’s been modified. And since this Plymouth muddies that line so well, you’d probably need to park it beside a factory fresh car to fully appreciate all of its subtle nuances. That said, some of the big changes are easy to spot including shaved door handles, frenched LED tail lights, a slightly modified hood, a heavily re-sculpted grille and a power radio antenna that’s been recessed into one of the quarters. The car’s Medium Blue Pearl paint is a mile-deep urethane that has enough sparkle to power a small city, although the harsh lights of our studio come nowhere near doing it justice. In true ‘best custom’ fashion, final assembly is vastly more precise than factory work and, as a result, all doors fit exactly, hood shut lines are even, and the car’s deck lid is flush. And since this awesome Plymouth, which was a super-clean show-winning original before its latest transformation, has already won first place at the 2009 Detroit AutoRama, you can rest assured it’s 100% worthy of the phrase ‘best custom’.
Naturally, all of the car’s chrome and stainless has been restored to first class show standards. Those are original bumpers that have been straightened and re-chromed. A few elements of the car’s original grille remain, but they have definitely been modified to provide an entirely new look. That strip down the center of the hood is a hand-made piece. In case you couldn’t tell, those frenched headlights are modern sealed-beam halogen units. And all the glass except for the rear window is brand spankin’ new.
Most hot rodders wouldn’t think twice about dropping some sort of generic small block Chevy under this Deluxe’s hood. But it’s infinitely more impressive when someone dares to be different, and the result is a ’49 Plymouth street rod that actually carries its original 230 cubic inch flathead six. With that in mind, the inline mill is pretty far removed from stock, with a custom camshaft, a comprehensive bottom end rebuild and enough vintage speed equipment to open up a small museum. There’s a finned and painted cylinder head from Edgy Speed Shop that perfectly matches a finned and painted air cleaner. Between that head and air cleaner, a pair of Stromberg 97 carburetors feed a coated Edmonds intake manifold. There’s a cool Eddie Meyer fuel distribution block on the firewall and a matching aluminum oil filter, both retro-looking parts that seem like they were meant for this car. And modern upgrades include: a 12 volt electrical system that’s complete with a polished alternator, modern Hi Temp Radio Suppression wires, a polished AC compressor, a set of Fenton exhaust headers that dump into a custom dual exhaust system, and a lot of great looking stainless hardware.
Throw this Special up on a lift and you’ll find an equally exceptional chassis that’s full of wonderful details and flawless craftsmanship. The transmission is a 3-speed manual with an overdrive unit, so it cruises easily at modern highway speeds. There’s a beefy Ford nine inch out back that’s full of moderate 3.25 gears. The front suspension appears to be original, although the rear end uses a set of tube shocks that were probably not available in 1949. That beautiful exhaust system, which I’ve already referenced twice, truly is a work of modern art with professional welds and a polished stainless finish that’ll probably look great forever. Remote cut-out valves open up a pair of dump tubes or direct flow through a set of vintage cylindrical mufflers for a mellow 1950s tone. The car’s frame and floors have been bathed in a matching layer of Medium Blue Pearl paint, while all its running gear has been dipped in a coat of high-gloss black that really stands out. And the final detail is those too-cool-to-be-believed spinner hubcaps that steady hand-painted checker patterns inside of 15 inch Michelin wide whitewall radials.
You’re in for a special treat when you climb inside this custom. Simple and stock appearing, upscale materials and a subdued color combination make this cockpit something you’ll show off every chance you get. The blue and crimson vinyl has been stitched up in a very 1950s pattern which is incredibly elegant without being flashy. Matching door panels retain classic Plymouth hardware and window frames while a set of dark blue carpets add formality and a custom-made headliner champion’s simplistic style. Believe it or not, that’s the original dashboard, but it now includes a trio of modern gauges from Classic Instruments in its original openings. That snazzy wood grain facade has been formed in a high class burled walnut pattern that would look right at home in an old school Bentley. The factory steering wheel has obviously been restored, and its satin blue finish is a cool spin on the shiny plastic that was original equipment. A powerful stereo system, which has been hidden in the dash, fuels a giant Kicker subwoofer and color-keyed CD changer, both of which are mounted in the trunk. And speaking of the trunk, you’ll find that it’s been upholstered to match the interior all the way down to its custom blue tire cover.
Great cars come with lots of great documentation, and this is most definitely a great car. Our sale includes an original owner’s manual, service certificate, heater system manual, radio manual, and other dealership brochures about getting the most out of your new Plymouth. There’s also an early copy of “Rodding and Re-Styling” magazine from the late-40s or early-50s that shows a very similar Plymouth coupe on its cover. More specific to this Deluxe is the big pile of receipts and manuals for all its new components, as well as a huge album full of build photos and a magazine feature article from Europe. And we’ll even throw in the first place trophy for Best Mild Hardtop 49-54 from the 2009 Detroit AutoRama.
Given how cool this Plymouth is, I highly doubt you need any more convincing. But if you do, take your time to really look it over because I promise it’ll grow on you. A seasoned street rodder could literally spend an afternoon crawling around this custom and still not see every trick and detail that has been thoughtfully incorporated into its build. If you’re looking for a show stopping hot rod that features world class detailing and a vintage engine that’ll knock everyone out, it simply doesn’t get much better than this!