1954 plymouth models

1954 plymouth models DEFAULT

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1954 Plymouth Plaza Club Sedan 217 Six (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Plaza Club Sedan 217 Six Hy-Drive (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Plaza Club Sedan 217 Six Overdrive (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Plaza Club Sedan 217 Six PowerFlite (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Plaza Four Door Sedan 217 Six (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Plaza Four Door Sedan 217 Six Hy-Drive (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Plaza Four Door Sedan 217 Six Overdrive (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Plaza Four Door Sedan 217 Six PowerFlite (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Plaza Four Door Sedan 217 Six PowerFlite (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)1954 Plymouth Plaza Club Sedan 217 Six Overdrive (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)

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Sours: https://www.automobile-catalog.com/make/plymouth/p-24-p-25/p-25-plaza-sedan/1954.html

Plymouth Belvedere

For other uses, see Belvedere.

Motor vehicle

Plymouth Belvedere
1958 Plymouth Belvedere 2 door Hardtop (13471654503).jpg

1958 Plymouth Belvedere 2-door hardtop

ManufacturerPlymouth (Chrysler)
Production1954–1970
Assembly
  • Lynch Road Assembly, Detroit, Michigan
  • Newark Assembly, Newark, Delaware
  • Lago Alberto Assembly, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Windsor Assembly, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
  • Premier Automobiles, Mumbai, India
ClassFull-size (1954–1964)
Mid-size (1965–1970)
LayoutFR layout
PredecessorPlymouth Cranbrook
SuccessorPlymouth Satellite

Plymouth Belvedere is a series of Americanautomobile models made by Plymouth from 1954 to 1970.[1] The Belvedere name was first used for a new hardtop body style in the Plymouth Cranbrook line for the 1951 model year. In 1954 the Belvedere replaced the Cranbrook as the top trim and became a full model line with sedans, station wagons and convertible body styles. The Belvedere continued as Plymouth's full-sized car until 1965, when it became an intermediate, and was replaced after the 1970 model year by the Satellite, a name originally used for the top-trim level Belvederes. The nameplate "belvedere" is Italian for "beautiful sight" or “fair view”. Chrysler also had the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Illinois which began production in 1965.

Cranbrook Belvedere 1951–1953[edit]

See also: Plymouth Cranbrook

This article is about a car. For other uses, see Savoy (disambiguation).

Motor vehicle

Introduced on March 31, the 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook Belvedere is a two-door pillarless hardtop. It was Plymouth's first such body design and was introduced in response to the 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air, and the Ford Victoria, the first two-door hardtop in the low-priced American market.

The Cranbook Belvedere was the name for the two-door hardtop version of the Cranbrook and built on the same 118.5 in (3,010 mm) wheelbase. Powering the Belvedere is the Chrysler flathead 217.8 cu in (3.6 L) straight-6 engine with a 7.00:1 compression ratio producing 97 hp (72 kW; 98 PS) (SAE gross).

Plymouth used the name Savoy on several automobiles. From 1951-1953, the Savoy name was used on a station wagon, upgrading the base model Suburban. Later was a line of full-sized Plymouths from 1954-1961.[1]

For 1952, Plymouth kept the Cranbrook Belvedere largely unchanged. The biggest alteration was to the color scheme; to further distinguish the top-level Belvedere from other Plymouths, the two tones now flowed from the roof over the beltline onto the trunk, which has been referred to as the "saddleback" treatment. Two-tone color schemes were "sable bronze" over suede, black over "mint green", and gray over blue. Overdrive was made available as optional equipment in the 1952 Plymouth. In overdrive, the engine made three revolutions for each rear wheel revolution and four without overdrive. The engine was a complete carryover from 1951. Production for 1951 and 1952 totaled 51,266 units.

The Belvedere remained a part of the Cranbrook series through the 1953 model year, which saw all Plymouth models completely restyled. Major style changes include a shorter 114 in (2,900 mm) wheelbase, a one-piece windshield, flush rear fenders, and a lower hood line. In April 1953, Plymouths received the Hy-Drivesemi-automatic transmission. The engine was carried over from 1952 with the only enhancement being a slight increase in the compression ratio to 7.10:1, which yielded a rating of 100 hp (75 kW).

A total of 35,185 Belvederes were sold in 1953.

Full-size series[edit]

1954[edit]

Motor vehicle

The Belvedere replaced the Cranbrook as the top-line offering for 1954. Now, a separate model instead of just a two-door hardtop, it was also available as a convertible, two-door station wagon, and four-door sedan. The two-door hardtop version was now called the "Sport Coupe". The 1954 Belvederes featured full-length rocker sill moldings.[3]

Minor styling updates adorned the carry-over body design. For the first time, small chrome tailfins appeared on the rear fenders. An entry level nameplate was introduced, called the Plymouth Plaza sharing the essential technology while priced more modestly.

In March 1954, Plymouth finally offered a fully automatic transmission, the Chrysler PowerFlite two-speed. Also new was a larger standard engine: a 230.2 cu in (3.8 L) I6 that was also used by the Dodge Division. Power was now rated at 110 hp (82 kW).

Belvedere production totaled 32,492 for the year. In 1954, the Savoy was available as a two-door Club Coupe, four-door sedan, and 2-door Club Sedan.[4]

  • 1954 Plymouth Belvedere four-door sedan

  • 1954 Plymouth Belvedere Suburban

  • 1954 Plymouth Plaza 2-door Suburban

  • 1954 Plymouth Savoy Sedan rear view

1955–1956[edit]

Motor vehicle

All Plymouths were treated to a major overhaul for the 1955 model year. This was the first year of Chrysler stylist Virgil Exner's "Forward Look." The Belvedere returned as top-of-the-line, and the Plaza remained the entry level model. When introduced in 1954, later in the year with 1955 model paint schemes, the Savoy was Plymouth's mid-level car. Chrysler promoted the all new appearance, showing cars built at the Lynch Road Factory in a featurette movie Here. Midway through the model year (on February 26), the engine's stroke was increased by a quarter inch, increasing displacement from 217.8 to 230.2 cu in (3.6 to 3.8 L) and increasing power from 100 to 110 hp (75 to 82 kW).[6]

For 1956, Plymouth styling evolved from that of the 1955s. Most notable would be the introduction of the first push-button automatic transmission to appear in an American automobile, and a more dramatic rear-end treatment highlighted by a pair of rakish tail-fins. In early 1956, the Fury joined the Belvedere line as a special-edition high-performance coupe. Belvedere remained the top full-line series through 1958. In 1956, Plymouth added seat belts.[7]

In 1956, Chrysler's chief engineer in a public relations campaign took a Belvedere and had a Chrysler turbine engine fitted instead of the standard gasoline engine, and was driven across the US.[8]

Plymouth Suburban[edit]

For 1956 the Plymouth station wagons were grouped in their own separate series [9] instead of being a part of the standard range of models (the Deluxe in 1950, the Concord in 1951-1952, the Cambridge for 1954 and the Plaza and Belvedere in 1955). The 1956 wagon range comprised the De Luxe Suburban 2-Door, the Custom Suburban 2-Door, the Custom Suburban 4-Door and the Sport Suburban 4-Door [10] with De Luxe Suburban, Custom Suburban and Sport Suburban models equating to the Plaza, Savoy and Belvedere models respectively.[9]

The 1956 models came with more V8 power upgrades, up to 180 bhp 270cid V8, 187 bhp 277cid V8, 200 bhp 277cid V8, with a 240 bhp 303cid V8 for the Fury.[11] Tail fins featured for the first time, in what Exner christened the "Forward Look".[11] A 1956 Suburban can be discerned from a 1955 Suburban by the grille centre section - 1955 models had a ribbed center section, with a chrome V badge on the hood identifying a V8 engine. The V was moved down into the grille center for 1956 models and block P-L-Y-M-O-U-T-H lettering appeared on the hood front. The 1956 tail lamps were larger.

  • 1955 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe

  • 1955 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe

  • 1955 Plymouth Savoy 4-Door Sedan

  • 1955 Plymouth Plaza 4-door Suburban

  • 1956 Plymouth Belvedere 4-door hardtop

1957–1959[edit]

See also: Plymouth Fury

Motor vehicle

The 1957 model year had high sales for the Chrysler Corporation, and for the Plymouth line. Plymouth's design was so revolutionary that Chrysler used the slogan "Suddenly, it's 1960!" to promote the new car.[13][14]

Standard on all body styles except the convertible was the "Powerflow 6" L-head engine. The convertible was only V8 powered and V8s were available in other Belvederes with an optional "Fury" 301 cu in (4.9 L) version as well as a "High-Performance PowerPAC" at extra cost.[15] A manual transmission was standard with the push-button two-speed PowerFlite optional and the push-button three-speed TorqueFlite automatic also optional on V8 cars. The front suspension introduced Chrysler's Torsion-Aire Torsion bar suspension shared with all Chrysler products starting in 1957. In 1957, Chrysler products offered an appearance of either single or dual headlights. Plymouth installed the headlights in a facia that accommodated dual headlights while offering both single and dual lamps. This appearance can be seen with front turn signal lamps installed inboard, next to the headlight, while vehicles installed with dual headlights offered a concealed turn signal above the headlights in the headlight alcove.

The Belvedere would once again return as a top-level trim for 1958 for the last time. Styling was a continuation of the 1957 models. A big block "B" engine of 350 in3 V8 with dual four-barrel carburetors dubbed "Golden Commando" was optional on all models. For 1959, the Fury became the top range with a full array of sedans and coupes, and the Belvedere became the middle range. The Savoy became the least expensive model, and the Plaza was discontinued.

The convertible was only available in the Belvedere model between 1956 and 1958.

The 1957-58 Belvedere two-door hardtop gained notoriety from the movie Christine (1983) based on the novel by Stephen King. In the opening scene, which the titles set as "Detroit, 1957", Christine appears near the end of the assembly line as a lone bright red car in a long line of Buckskin Beige Furys being built for the new model year (1958). (In the novel it is revealed that her first owner, Roland Lebay had ordered her with custom paint, as the standard 1958 Fury came only in beige.) For the movie, Christine is painted "toreador red" with an "iceberg white" top.

Plymouth Plaza[edit]

The Plaza was Plymouth's entry-level car during those years and was priced under the Savoy. It was offered in sedan, coupe and wagon variants. Known as Plymouth's "Price Leader", in 1958 the Plaza offered buyers the widest choice of options to date. Options formerly reserved only for higher-priced lines were available on the Plaza for the first time. The Business Coupe, which was the least produced model of Plymouth in 1958 (1,472 units), differed from the regular 2dr Club Sedan in that the rear seat was an optional accessory. Plymouth also added a special edition to the Plaza fleet in '58.

Based on a Plaza Club Sedan, the "Silver Special" had a custom paint job with silver paint on the roof and in the Sportone inserts plus a short stainless steel spear that accented the front fenders and extended partially into the front doors. The final custom touch was on the rear fins where the Silver Special bore "Forward Look" emblems instead of the traditional "Plaza" scripts. It isn't known how many of the 94,728 Plazas produced in 1958 were fitted with the Silver Special trim package, but they are believed to be very rare cars.

Like most models of its kind in the 1950s and 1960s, the Plaza—with its minimal trim and plain cloth-and-vinyl upholstery, and limited option choices—saw most of its appeal toward fleet buyers, such as police departments and other law enforcement agencies, where luxury and comfort were not primary concerns. However, the model was available to budget-conscious private consumers who wanted or needed the room of a full-sized automobile and the availability of such items as a V-8 engine and automatic transmission.

For the 1959 model year, Plymouth discontinued the Plaza and moved the Savoy name down to become the entry level model.[16]

Plymouth Savoy[edit]

In 1959, Plymouth dropped the Plaza and replaced it with the Savoy, making the Savoy the model's entry level full-size Plymouth. The two previous hardtop models were dropped, as well as the side trim that was more modest called 'Sport Tone', and interior appointments. Sales were not diminished as the Savoy became fleet vehicles used by taxicab companies, police departments and other fleet-minded customers where luxury was not a concern. The model was also available to customers who were in the market for a low-cost, economical vehicle with the availability of a V-8 engine and automatic transmission, and room of a full-size vehicle. By 1960, a new model, the Plymouth Taxi Special, was spun off from the Savoy. Front leg room was 45.5 inches (116 cm).[14]

Plymouth Suburban[edit]

A new body arrived in 1957, again by Exner. So modern was the design in comparison to the 1956, that Plymouth's ad men proclaimed "Suddenly it's 1960!".[11] Styling on both Suburbans (and the entire line) was cleaner, without the hugely ornate grille castings Plymouths had worn before. The sedans rode on a 118-inch (3,000 mm) wheelbase, and the wagons were 122 inches (3,100 mm). The Suburban was a separate model line in its own right.

Separating the wagons from the other lines was done to limit confusion when ordering parts. Station wagons were growing in popularity, but never matched sedans in volume. Hence there were certain compromises made over the years by all manufacturers. Ford was known to sell Mercury wagons on the shorter Ford wheelbase, particularly in the Comet and Meteor series, and Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac Bonneville full size wagons all shared Chevrolet's 119 inch wheelbase for a time (unlike the sedans and coupes on their 123.5 inch wheelbase). Chrysler reversed this. Preferring to maintain the exclusive nature of the Town & Country, the company based all wagons on the larger bodies and smoother suspensions of the senior divisions. This made it difficult for Plymouth to compete in price with Ford and Chevrolet, but did allow them to claim the roomiest wagon in the low-priced field. It also meant the wagons used many parts shared with Chryslers, DeSotos and Dodges, but not other Plymouths. The unique name meant Plymouth dealers were limited in liability; when a mechanic found his new torsion bar was inches too short to fit, he had no one but himself to blame for requesting a Belvedere part instead of a Sport Suburban part.

Suburbans for 1958 were quite similar to those sold in '57, but with detail changes like an under-bumper grille and a V in the grille centre. The P-L-Y-M-O-U-T-H lettering was gone again, replaced by a hood emblem. The rear vision mirror was mounted on the dashboard moved off center toward the driver's side. The old L-head six was available (though not much longer) and there were now three "Dual Fury" V8s; 225 bhp, 250 bhp (4bbl) and 290 bhp (8bbl), as well as a 350cid "Golden Commando" option.

Although based on the same body, 1959 Plymouth Suburbans featured an 'egg-crate' grille and side trim changes, while the front bumper lost its raised centre section and larger tail lamps set the 1958s apart from the rear. Unitary construction was the song being sung of the 1960 Plymouth range. Styling changes included a flat hood from fender to fender, and more pronounced tail fins tacked on the rear. The P-L-Y-M-O-U-T-H lettering returned, along the front of the hood, and a short side flash (for two-toning purposes) finished just after the front wheel arches. A 225cid "Slant Six" replaced the old L-head six - this came from development of the new Valiant V-200 series 'compact' cars.

The separate Suburban series was discontinued for 1962, and the new and now smaller Plymouth station wagon models were instead included within the Savoy, Belvedere and Fury lines.[17] However, the body for the 1961 4-door wagon was held over so that it could be used in the creation of the full-sized Chrysler and Dodge wagons for 1962. The 1962 model Chrysler wagons were created by mating their respective front ends to the updated body of the 1961 Plymouth wagon.[18] Similarly, the Dodge Custom 880 also mated its 1962 front end to the 1961 Plymouth wagon body. The 1961 Plymouth body was utilized because it was the only finless full-sized Chrysler Corporation wagon. The full-sized Chrysler and Dodge wagons would continue to employ this strategy of using updated 1961 Plymouth wagon bodies up through the 1964 model year.

  • 1957 Plymouth Belvedere 4-Door Sedan

  • 1957 Plymouth Plaza 4-Door Sedan

  • 1958 Plymouth Belvedere 4-door sedan

  • 1958 Plymouth Plaza 4-door Sedan

  • 1958 Plymouth Savoy 4-door Sedan

  • 1958 Plymouth Savoy 4-door Sedan

  • 1958 Plymouth Savoy 4-door Sedan interior

  • 1959 Plymouth Belvedere 2-door hardtop

  • 1959 Plymouth Belvedere 4-door hardtop

  • 1959 Plymouth DeLuxe Suburban 4-door

1960–1961[edit]

Motor vehicle

Starting in 1960, Belvederes got a brand-new standard inline six-cylinder engine replacing the venerable valve-in-block "flathead" six. Colloquially known as the Slant Six, it displaced 225 cu in (3.69 l), featured overhead valves, and a block that was inclined 30 degrees to the right to permit a lower hood line with maximum displacement. This engine used a single-barrel Holley carburetor, and became known for its extremely rugged construction, exceptional reliability and longevity. V-8 engines continued to be optionally available, in displacements of 318 cu in (5.21 l) and 361 cu in (5.92 l).

Unit body construction was introduced throughout the line, though it appeared on certain Plymouths in earlier years such as the 1953 hardtop coupe. This eliminated the frame and was advertised as Unibody. Under Chrysler president William Newberg, Virgil Exner's styling team was encouraged to go "over the top" with distinctive styling, leading the 1960 models to be popularly dubbed the "jukebox on wheels" and the 1961 models to be widely considered among the ugliest cars ever mass-produced. Despite being remarkable cars in performance, handling, modest weight, and appealing interiors, sales suffered, and Plymouth yielded third place in sales to Rambler.

Plymouth Suburban[edit]

In 1961, a year "most beholders would agree...it was hit with the ugly stick",[20] it was available in six models: one two-door and five four-doors, selling at between US$2,604 for the base two-door (style number 255) and US$3,136 for the top four-door (style number 377).[21] It ran on a 122 in (3,100 mm) wheelbase, measured 215 in (550 cm) long, 80 in (200 cm) wide, and 55.4 in (141 cm) high, with standard 7.5 by 14 in (19 by 36 cm) wheels (8 by 14 in (20 by 36 cm) were optional) and blackwall tires.[21] It had a cargo capacity of 95.8 cu ft (2,710 l), with 21 US gal (17 imp gal; 79 l) fuel, and weighed between 3,675 lb (1,667 kg) (for the two-door) and 3,995 lb (1,812 kg) (for the top four-door).[21] It was available with the 225 cu in (3.7 l) slant 6 or 318 cu in (5.2 l) Fury (single four-barrel carburetor), 318 cu in (5.2 l) Super Fury 318 cu in (5.2 l) (dual four-barrel carburetors), 361 cu in (5.9 l) Golden Commando, or 383 cu in (6.3 l) SonoRamic Commando V8.[22] Either three-speed manual or TorqueFliteautomatictransmission were available.[22] It was aimed at the Chevrolet Impala/Biscayne, Ford Galaxie, and up-market AMC Ambassador.[21]

  • 1960 Plymouth Savoy 4-door Sedan

  • 1960 Plymouth Sport Suburban

  • 1961 Plymouth Savoy 4-door Sedan

  • 1961 Plymouth Suburban 4-door station wagon

Intermediate series[edit]

1962–1964[edit]

Motor vehicle

The 1962 model year full-size Plymouths were "downsized", with more compact outside dimensions. American car buyers at the time were in the thought mode of "bigger is better", and sales of these models suffered. However, the smaller Plymouth provided greater owner approval in their actual use.[24] A Plymouth Belvedere with a six-cylinder engine and automatic transmission was compared to the intermediate-size Ford Fairlane and the compact-size Chevrolet Chevy II in an economy test by Popular Mechanics and the road test concluded that the Belvedere was "a very pleasant transportation package."[25] Another advantage of the smaller and lighter body was in drag racing.

The 1963 and 1964 models used the same unibody platform as the 1962s, but were restyled to look longer and wider.

The 1964 Belvedere (and corresponding Fury hardtop coupes) featured a new "slant-back" roofline that proved to be popular, and sales improved significantly over the previous design.

The 1964 Belvedere was also the car used to introduce the 426 Chrysler Hemi engine, which used a canted large-valve arrangement. This was such a significant high-RPM breathing improvement that Hemi-equipped Plymouth Belvederes won first, second, and third at NASCAR's 1964 Daytona race. One of the winning drivers was Richard Petty.[26]

Plymouth Savoy[edit]

Plymouth discontinued the Savoy nameplate at the end of the 1964 model year, except in Canada, where it continued through 1965.[1]

In 1965, the full-sized entry level Plymouth model in the U.S. was the Fury I; in Canada it was called the Savoy but the top-level models were named Fury II and Fury III.

  • 1962 Plymouth Savoy 4-door Sedan

  • 1963 Plymouth Savoy 2-door Sedan

  • 1963 Plymouth Savoy 2-door Sedan with Max Wedge engine option.

  • 1963 Plymouth Savoy 4-Door Station Wagon

  • 1963 Plymouth Belvedere 4-Door Sedan

  • 1964 Plymouth Savoy Four-Door Sedan

  • 1964 Plymouth Belvedere 4-door sedan

1965–1967[edit]

Motor vehicle

In 1965 Plymouth once again made the Fury a full-size car, and Belvedere ostensibly became the intermediate size offering, though the Belvedere was little changed, and most dimensions and weights remained the same—the Fury was merely enlarged, restoring a full-sized line which Plymouth had been lacking.[28] The Belvedere line was divided into the Belvedere I, Belvedere II and Satellite subseries, the latter available only as hardtop coupe and convertible, and featuring the 273 cu in (4.47 l) "LA block" V8 as standard equipment. The line was restyled in 1966, and the high-performance GTX was added in 1967.

The pilot episode for the television show Adam-12 featured a 1967 Belvedere as the standard LAPD police cruiser.

Engines[edit]

Model Year Displacement, Designation, Carburetor Power Torque
1965-1967 225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6I6 1-Barrel 145 hp (108 kW; 147 PS) 215 lb⋅ft (292 N⋅m)
1965-1967 273 cu in (4.5 L) LAV8 2-Barrel 180 hp (134 kW; 182 PS) 260 lb⋅ft (353 N⋅m)
1965-1967 318 cu in (5.2 L) LA V8 2-Barrel 230 hp (172 kW; 233 PS) 340 lb⋅ft (461 N⋅m)
1965 361 cu in (5.9 L) B V8 2-Barrel 265 hp (198 kW; 269 PS) 380 lb⋅ft (515 N⋅m)
1967 383 cu in (6.3 L) B V8 2-Barrel 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) 390 lb⋅ft (529 N⋅m)
1965-1967 383 cu in (6.3 L) B V8 4-Barrel 325 hp (242 kW; 330 PS) 425 lb⋅ft (576 N⋅m)
1965 426 cu in (7.0 L) Wedge V8 4-Barrel 365 hp (272 kW; 370 PS) 470 lb⋅ft (637 N⋅m)
1967 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi V8 2x4-Barrel 425 hp (317 kW; 431 PS) 490 lb⋅ft (664 N⋅m)
1967 440 cu in (7.2 L) RB V8 4-Barrel 375 hp (280 kW; 380 PS) 480 lb⋅ft (651 N⋅m)
  • 1965 Plymouth Belvedere II wagon

  • 1966 Plymouth Belvedere Satellite 2-door hardtop

  • 1967 Plymouth Belvedere I 4-door sedan

1968–1970[edit]

Motor vehicle

Seventh generation
1968 Plymouth Satellite.jpg

1968 Plymouth Satellite

Model years1968–1970
AssemblyLynch Road Assembly, Detroit, Michigan
Saint Louis Assembly, Fenton, Missouri
Los Angeles Assembly, Maywood, California
Body style2-door coupe[29]
4-door sedan[29]
4-door station wagon[29]
PlatformB-body
Engine273 cu in (4.5 L) V8
383 cu in (6.3 L) V8
318 cu in (5.2 L) V8
340 cu in (5.6 L) V8
426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi V8
Wheelbase116.0 in (2,946 mm)
Length202.7 in (5,149 mm)
Width76.4 in (1,941 mm)
Height54.7 in (1,389 mm)

In 1968, the Belvedere - along with the rest of Chrysler's B-body offerings - was reskinned with "Coke bottle styling." The Belvedere II was dropped, but the Sport Satellite was added to the overall lineup, using the same sheet metal.

The new LA-style lightweight 318 engine was introduced for this year and would remain available on the Belvedere through its life. The Plymouth Road Runner was introduced as a low-price, high-performance alternative to the GTX, and Richard Petty won the Grand National championship in NASCAR in a Belvedere. However the GTX came standard with the 440 CID engine and the Road Runner with the 383 Magnum, with the 440 six-barrel or the 426 HEMI engines optional.

The Belvedere name was dropped at the end of the 1970 model year, replaced by the Satellite name originally reserved for higher-end Belvederes. It lasted only through 1974, becoming the Fury in 1975 when the longer-wheelbase Fury model became the Gran Fury.

Police[edit]

Belvederes were used in police service from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, when they were replaced by the Plymouth Gran Fury. They were prominent in both the LAPD and New York Police Department.

Australian production[edit]

Chrysler Australia also produced the 4 door Hardtop in 1958
Australian developed 1956 Plymouth Savoy Coupe Utility

The Plymouth Belvedere was also produced by Chrysler Australia. The first model, based on the 1953 US Plymouth, featured a high level of Australian content, with body panels pressed in Chrysler Australia's Keswick facility in South Australia and matched with a 217.8 cubic inch (4107cc) side-valve six-cylinder engine, imported from Chrysler UK.[30] It was produced as a four-door sedan[30] and as a locally developed two-door coupe utility,[31] along with similar Cranbrook and Savoy models, until it was replaced by the Chrysler Royal in 1957.[30] The Belvedere was reintroduced to the Australian market in early 1958 when Chrysler Australia began assembling the current model Belvedere four-door hardtop which was imported from the US in knocked-down form.[32] The 1959 model was equipped with a 318 cubic inch V8 engine and push-button automatic transmission.[33] Chrysler Australia replaced their Plymouth Belvedere, Dodge Custom Royal and De Soto Firesweep models with the Dodge Phoenix in 1960.[34] Chrysler Australia produced the P25 series Plymouth Savoy from 1954 to 1957.[35] An Australian developed coupe utility variant of the Savoy was produced from 1956 to 1958.[36]

Oklahoma centennial[edit]

Main article: Miss Belvedere

During Oklahoma's 50th anniversary, a new 1957 Plymouth Belvedere was sealed in a concrete enclosure as a time capsule in downtown Tulsa on the grounds of the brand new county courthouse. It was unearthed June 14, 2007[37] during the state's centennial celebrations, and was publicly unveiled on June 15. In line with the Cold War realities of late 1950s America, the concrete enclosure was advertised as having been built to withstand a nuclear attack.[38] The concrete enclosure, however, was not airtight and allowed water to leak in, which caused significant damage to the vehicle.[39]

The controversial[40] televised vehicle customizer Boyd Coddington was to have been the first to start the unburied car, had it been operable.

The car was the prize of a 1957 contest to guess the population of Tulsa in the year 2007. The winning entrant, one Raymond Humbertson, guessed 384,743 versus the actual figure of 382,457. However, Humbertson died in 1979 and now only distant relatives remain.[41]

A second car, this time a Plymouth Prowler, was encased in a vault in Tulsa's Centennial Park (formerly Central Park) in 1998 to celebrate the city's centennial. After it was discovered what had become of the 1957 Belvedere, the Prowler was moved above ground, and a mound was formed over it. It is to be revealed after the same period of time as the Belvedere, in 2048.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ abcConsumer Guide, Auto Editors of (1989). 50 Years of American Automobiles. New York: Beekman House. pp. 319–322. ISBN .
  2. ^Gunnell, John. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975 (Fourth ed.). pp. 646–649.
  3. ^ abcdeJohn Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, page 650
  4. ^"1954 Plymouth foldout, models". oldcarbrochures.org. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  5. ^ abcdefJohn Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, page 650-653
  6. ^Zavitz, R. Perry (1990). "The Postwar Plymouths Changing Personalities From Staid to Flashy". In Lee, John (ed.). Standard Catalog of Chrysler, 1924-1990. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p. 119. ISBN .
  7. ^"1956 Plymouth brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Archived from the original on September 30, 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  8. ^"We Drove A Turbine Car Coast-To-Coast."Popular Mechanics, June 1956, pp. 72-76/252.
  9. ^ abJohn Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975, Revised 4th Edition, page 652
  10. ^1956 Plymouth Suburban Brochure, oldcarbrochures.orgArchived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 12 October 2015
  11. ^ abcConsumer Guide: Cars Of The 50s, page 75
  12. ^ abcdefgJohn Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, pages 653-655
  13. ^"1957 Plymouth prestige brochure". oldcarbrochures.org. pp. 2–3. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  14. ^ ab"1959 Plymouth brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  15. ^"Specifications: 1957 Plymouth brochure". oldcarbrochures.org. p. 12. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  16. ^John Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, page 655
  17. ^1962 Plymouth Full Size Brochure, www.oldcarbrochures.com Retrieved 6 May 2020
  18. ^Godshall, Jeffrey I. (December 1994). "1960-62 Chrysler "Positively No Jr. Editions"". Collectible Automobile. Vol. 11 no. 4. pp. 53–54.
  19. ^ abcdJohn Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, pages 656-659
  20. ^Flory, p.123.
  21. ^ abcdFlory, p.127.
  22. ^ abFlory, p.124.
  23. ^ abcdJohn Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, pages 660-665
  24. ^"Smaller Plymouth wins greater owner approval". Popular Mechanics. 117 (2): 95–99, 246, 248, 250. February 1962. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  25. ^Whipple, James (January 1962). "Drive Comparing Ford Fairlane, Plymouth Belvedere, Chevy II". Popular Mechanics. 117 (1): 104–108, 244, 245. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  26. ^Redgap, Curtis (2003). "Which came first, the Plymouth or the Petty?". Allpar. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  27. ^ abcdGunnell, John, ed. (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Krause Publications. pp. 665–671. ISBN .
  28. ^Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (6 December 2007). "1965, 1966, 1967 Plymouth Belvedere/Satellite and GTX". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
  29. ^ abcJohn Gunnell, Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, pages 671-678
  30. ^ abcDavid Brimble, Chryslers before the Chrysler Royal, Restored Cars, No 87 (July / August 1991), pages 14-15
  31. ^Larry O'Toole, The Good Old Aussie Ute, page 192
  32. ^Gavin Farmer, Great Ideas in Motion, 2010, page 74
  33. ^News Review, Three Chryslers, Australian Motor Sports, August 1959
  34. ^Gavin Farmer, Great Ideas in Motion, 2010, page 77
  35. ^Gavin Farmer, Great Ideas in Motion, 2010, pages 23 to 25
  36. ^Automotive oddity website, www.roadkillontheweb.com Retrieved 1 March 2016
  37. ^http://www.unburiedcar.com[bare URL]
  38. ^CNN: link broke. Archived July 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^World staff. "Buried Belvedere vault full of water". TulsaWorld. Archived from the original on 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  40. ^"Updated: Belvedere rusty but still has personality". TulsaWorld. 2007-06-15. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  41. ^"Miss Belvedere, you have a winner: But Raymond Humbertson died in 1979". TulsaWorld. 2007-06-23. Archived from the original on 2013-02-05. Retrieved 2011-11-20.

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_Belvedere
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1951-1958 Plymouth Belvedere

Better things were coming for the model -- but not for the 1953-1954 Plymouth Belvedere, as Plymouth marked its 25th anniversary in 1953 with a complete re-style that wasn't completely successful. Concord was dropped and previous models redistributed between Cambridge and Cranbrook on a new in-between, 114-inch wheelbase.

Despite fully flush rear fenders, smoother front, lower deck, and the obligatory one-piece windshield, the result was stubby, almost homely next to this year's Ford and Chevy, both of which rode one-inch-longer wheelbases. The grille was curious, its convex horizontal bar suggesting an overbite. Mechanical changes were virtually nil apart from the addition of Hy-Drive automatic transmission, though a slight compression boost upped the hoary six-cylinder engine to an even 100 horsepower.

Still a top-line model, the 1953 Belvedere wore its name instead of Cranbrook script on the front fenders, plus special square-corner upper windshield moldings. Two-toning was more conventional than before, while genuine wire-spoke wheels were newly optional in chrome or main body color. Alas, the revised roofline with its reverse-slant C-pillars was unbecoming, rather like an ill-fitting hat.

Price came down $172 but demand stayed about the same, model year production totalling 35,185 units. More modest price reductions attended other models ($61 on the Cranbrook sedan, for instance). Meanwhile, Ford sold over 128,000 Crestline Victoria hard tops and Chevy moved better than 99,000 Bel Air Sport Coupes.

For 1954, Belvedere replaced Cranbrook as Plymouth's top-of-the-line, thus emulating Chevy's pattern with the 1953 Bel Air. Included were convertible, two-door Suburban wagon, four-door sedan, and the familiar hardtop, now called Sport Coupe. Cambridge was retitled Plaza, though two- and four-door sedans, Suburban, short-deck club coupe, and business coupe were retained. All but the last were duplicated in a new mid-range series called Savoy.

Styling was mildly facelifted, with a less awkward grille, more prominent headlamp bezels, and revised trim. Belvederes (save the Suburban) wore little chrome fins on their rear fenders, a forecast of things to come. Ads billed the 1954s as "Hy Style," which they definitely weren't, though Belvedere's two-tone interiors were attractive enough. The problem was size. Though Plymouth sat an inch lower than this year's Ford, it was five inches shorter. It showed, aggravated by body lines that weren't integrated somehow.

The Ford/Chevy price war that had been clobbering most makes (especially the independents) since mid-1953 prompted two new Plymouth features in March 1954. One was the much-needed fully automatic transmission, Chrysler's excellent two-speed PowerFlite. The other was a new standard engine, the 110-horsepower, 230.2-cubic-inch six previously reserved for Dodge.

It was little enough: Chevy's six was up to 115 horsepower with stickshift or 125 with Powerglide; Ford's new overhead-valve V-8 offered 130.

Plymouth -- and thus Chrysler Corporation -- had a dismal 1954. While Chevrolet sales held relatively steady and Ford, Buick, and Olds all enjoyed substantial gains, Highland Park's breadwinner plummeted by nearly 40 percent, falling below third in calendar year production for the first time since 1931.

To find out about the redesign for 1955, continue reading on the next page.

For more information on cars, see:

Sours: https://auto.howstuffworks.com/1951-1958-plymouth-belvedere3.htm
1954 Plymouth Savoy Two Door Sedan HyDrive Blu MecumKissimmee0105195011
1953 Plymouth suffers from six myths

Let’s take the time to question six myths about one of the most misunderstood post-war American cars — the 1953-54 Plymouth. This an important exercise because it unmasks some key elements of Detroit groupthink. Automotive historians tend to view the Plymouth with a lingering — if perhaps unconscious — fealty to the U.S. auto industry’s holy trinity of bigger, glitzier and more powerful cars.

The 1953-54 Plymouth is one of the most important cars of the 1950s. It was the first attempt by a Big Three automaker to champion a space-efficient family car at a time when lower, longer and wider styling was trendy.

Even so, the 1953-54 Plymouth gets little respect from historians. Paul Niedermeyer (2012) summed up the general vibe by stating that these cars “almost sunk Plymouth.”

That’s an example of one myth. After a little background, we will discuss all six myths commonly ascribed to the 1953-54 Plymouth.

K. T. Keller’s final legacy: A space-efficient family car

For 1953 the Plymouth was given new sheetmetal but was still based on a platform that dated back to 1949. The basic design reflected Chrysler head K. T. Keller’s philosophy, which was to “shun fads in favor of stolid practicality” (Langworth and Norbye, 1985; p. 137). Chrysler resisted the industry trend toward bigger and lower-slung cars in favor of practical designs that were tall enough to allow passengers to wear hats.

Six myths undercut our understanding of the 1953 Plymouth

One of the myths about the 1953 Plymouth was that it was too practical

Lester “Tex” Colbert became Chrysler president in late 1950. However, for a time Keller still had a strong influence on product design in his role as chairman of the board (Grist, 2007). The 1953-54 models represented the last hurrah of the Keller era.

In some respects the 1953 models’ new look was less conservative than previous Plymouths. Height was chopped almost three inches and Keller reportedly stopped vetoing what he saw as “gimmicks,” such as a curved windshield (Grist, 2007; p. 69). Stylists even took some risks, such as with an orthodontic grille that wrapped around the front fenders.

One of the myths about the 1953 Plymouth was it was too compact

The most controversial part of the car’s design was that its front and rear overhangs were not stretched to keep up with its increasingly long competitors. The 1953 Plymouth was six inches shorter than a Chevrolet and nine inches shorter than a Ford. 

What’s wrong with that? Plymouth’s “smaller on the outside, bigger on the inside” design was out of step with post-war consumer tastes, suggested the auto editors of Consumer Guide (2013). Lanny Knutson (2014) of allpar.com insisted that the public viewed the 1953-54 models as a “dog” that pushed Plymouth “out of its ‘rightful’ third place in sales, down, not to fourth, but to fifth place in sales.”

1953 Plymouth Cranbrook Belvedere

Richard M. Langworth summed up most forcefully the case against Keller’s basic design philosophy:

“In direct opposition to the concepts of GM and Ford, Chrysler shunned the lower-longer-wider approach to build beautifully-engineered, good-handling, relatively compact machines with minimal styling changes — none of any substance between 1951 and 1952. Chrysler had concentrated on building value into the cars. Besides quality interiors, rugged chassis and efficient power plants, rust on a 1949-52 Chrysler body was almost a physical impossibility. And as soon as the seller’s market expired, the public shunned Chrysler products in droves” (1993a; pp. 101-102).

These narratives are not completely wrong, but they are colored by reality distortions. Let’s assess the factual basis for each of the six myths commonly ascribed to the misunderstood 1953-54 Plymouth.

Myth 1: The 1953 Plymouth was a dramatic shift

Some historians have criticized the 1953 Plymouth so harshly that you would think that it was a radical break from business as usual. In actuality, this was an evolutionary design with some positive features.

As a case in point, Michael Lamm and Dave Holls painted the Plymouth (and its sibling Dodge) as partisans in the car-size wars of the 1950s. The dimensions for both brands were “slightly downsized” in response to marketing surveys that asked: “Does your neighbor want a smaller car?” The authors then drew upon sales data to argue that neighbors “might have wanted smaller cars, but the buyers themselves wanted bigger ones, and the 1953-54 Plymouths lost market share to Ford and Chevrolet” (1996, p. 165).

This line of reasoning is confusing because Lamm and Holls stated that the “Plymouth and Dodge became an average of 670 pounds lighter for 1953” (1996, p. 165). That’s a lot of weight. As a point of comparison, General Motors took out an average of 750-800 pounds when downsizing it big cars in 1977 (Wikipedia, 2015).

1952 Plymouth Concord

1952 Plymouth four-door sedan

I can’t tell how Lamm and Holls came up with that number. The shipping weight of the entry-level 1953 Plymouth Cambridge four-door sedan shrunk by only 85 pounds from the previous year. This made the car lighter than the equivalent Ford by 132 pounds and Chevrolet by 232 pounds. Meanwhile, the base two-door club coupe grew heavier by 50 pounds. That made the car lighter than the Ford by 103 pounds and Chevy by 197 pounds.

Plymouth had both weight losses and gains because its bifurcated lineup was consolidated onto a 114-inch wheelbase. From 1949-52 the brand had taken the unusual step of fielding a trio of two-door models on a 111-inch wheelbase, while other body styles such as a four-door sedan were placed on an 118.5-inch wheelbase.

1951 Dodge Meadowbrook

1952 DeSoto four-door sedan

The latter wheelbase was 3.5 inches longer than Ford’s or Chevrolet’s. This made the Plymouth sedan unusually roomy for a low-priced car. However, the entry-level Cambridge was priced higher than its Big Two competition.

The 1952 Cambridge four-door sedan listed for $1,822. This topped the equivalent Ford by $292 and Chevrolet by $163. For 1953 Plymouth cut the Cambridge’s price so it was nestled between Ford and Chevy. Prices were similarly cut for the high-end Cranbrook series.

A myth about the 1953 Plymouth was that represented a radical departure

One can rightfully complain about the Plymouth’s quirky looks, but putting the entire line on a shorter wheelbase, giving it more distinct sheetmetal and lowering prices may have saved the brand from an even-bigger sales decline in 1954.

The key thing to keep in mind about the 1953 Plymouth is that it wasn’t an appreciably “smaller car.” The length was shorter than a Ford or Chevrolet, but the car’s width and wheelbase were similar. In addition, the body styles that shifted from the 118.5-inch wheelbase had virtually the same front and rear overhang as the previous year.

Comparison of dimensions, 1953 Plymouth and others

The Plymouth wasn’t narrow enough to be considered a “compact” like an early-50s Studebaker or the 1956 Rambler. The footprint of 1953 models was more akin to mid-60s “intermediates” such as the 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle.

The Plymouth’s unforgivable sin was that its front and rear overhang did not grow in sync with the Big Two’s.

Myth 2: The 1953 Plymouth was not very popular

If the 1953 Plymouth was out of step with what the public wanted, wouldn’t it have been a sales disaster? Instead, the opposite occurred. Production surpassed 650,000 units, which was almost 40,000 higher than Plymouth’s previous all-time records set in 1950-51.

In addition, Plymouth’s share of total domestic industry output reached 10.7 percent. This was the brand’s highest level since 1948, which was before post-war auto sales had ramped up. More importantly, only once — in 1957 — would Plymouth ever again top this figure.

1953 Plymouth front did have an ugly duckling quality

The 1953 Plymouth's front was rather ugly

The numbers look less rosy when focusing only on the low-priced field. Here we will include Chevrolet, Ford, Plymouth and Studebaker. For 1953 Plymouth held 19.2 percent of that market. This represented a modest, .1 percent decline from the previous year, and half a point below 1951. If this sounds bad, note that Studebaker saw its market share drop almost in half to 4.5 percent in 1953 despite introducing a more substantial redesign than Plymouth’s. Ford was the big winner, increasing its market share by four points to almost 37 percent — only two behind Chevrolet.

I don’t think the 1953 Plymouth’s market share in the low-priced field is all that meaningful in isolation. Yes, it was 1.7 percent lower than Chrysler Corporation’s overall proportion of the domestic market. However, for 1954 Plymouth’s market share was a minuscule .1 lower. You can’t blame the 1953’s lower market share on the car’s design because the 1954 models were little changed.

One of the myths about the 1993 Plymouth was that it was less popular than other Chrysler products

The Plymouth’s utilitarian body was shared with all other Chrysler brands. Thus, the whole automaker would presumably have suffered if the basic design did not appeal to the public. Yet in 1953 total production hit what was then a post-war high of 1.27 million units.

Also see ‘Historians fuzzy on Exner’s impact on 1953-54 Plymouths’

Even the flamboyant “Forward Look” 1955 designs failed to break this record (although they came close). In fact, Chrysler’s market share in 1953 was 3.2-percent higher than in 1955. 

Please reread the last paragraph. Now consider this: Many of the Chrysler Corporation’s 1955 models didn’t do all that well sales-wise. How could that have happened in a booming market given the automaker’s huge investment in the flashy designs of new styling chief Virgil Exner?

1953 Plymouth production was exceptionally strong

Output rebounded from the depths of 1954, but only Plymouth hit a post-war record. Compared to 1953, Dodge production was down 13 percent, DeSoto fell 12 percent and the Chrysler brand was off by 10 percent.

The 1955 Dodge had lower sales than in 1953 despite Virgil Exner's flamboyant styling

A newly launched Imperial generated 11,500 units in 1955. However, that did not make up for Chrysler’s three premium-priced brands declining by almost 76,000 units from 1953. To make matters worse, for 1956 both market share and output fell almost halfway back to 1954 levels.

Say what you will about the dowdy styling of Chrysler’s 1953 models, but they racked up 20.9 percent of the U.S. market. That record was never beaten — not even in other peak years such as 1955, 1957, 1966 or 1968.

Chrysler's market share reached an peak in 1953

This is not the typical view of auto histories I have read. For example, Lamm and Holls did not acknowledge that 1953 was a good year for the Chrysler Corporation. Instead, they stated that Plymouth and Dodge together lost roughly one percentage point of market share that year (1996, p. 165).

Perhaps their numbers are different than mine because they use calendar-year rather than model-year figures. Nevertheless, my calculations show the two brands hitting a post-war peak of 16 percent in the 1953 model year. That was 2.2 percent higher than their combined market share in 1955. More ominously, in 1956 market share dropped to 12.7 percent — which was the same as the bad old days of 1954.

Also see ‘Was the ‘Ford blitz’ to blame for the collapse of independent automakers?’

Meanwhile, Aaron Severson (2013) noted that 1953 sales were “initially decent” but were ultimately overpowered by factors such as the brand’s lack of an automatic transmission and the beginning of a price war between Ford and Chevrolet.

This basic argument goes in the same direction as that of Langworth’s (1993a). He minimized the success of the 1953 models by arguing that the postwar seller’s market didn’t subside until the end of the 1953 model year, when the “Ford blitz” began. This is when the automaker attempted to challenge GM for sales leadership by shipping large numbers of cars to dealers “whether they had ordered them or not.” This put the customer “in the saddle” — and they turned away from the boxy, practical cars Chrysler was offering (Langworth, 1993a; p. 101).

1953 Chrysler Corporation advertisement

That strikes me as a stretch. Others have suggested that the seller’s market slackened in 1952 (Flammang and the auto editors of Consumer Guide, 1995). Or, to be more generous, the end of Korean War-related government limitations on auto production could be pointed to as a milestone. That occurred less than three months after the 1953 models were unveiled (Gunnell, 2002; Nevins and Hill, 1962).

Another indicator that the seller’s market had subsided by the start of 1953 is the collapse of independent automakers. In 1952 they racked up 14.3 percent of domestic output, but only one year later their market share had fallen to 8.5 percent. During that same time period Chrysler’s market share grew by 1 percent — slightly more than GM’s .9-percent increase.

One could argue that Chrysler’s gain was a reflection of weak sales from the prior year. However, it says something that the automaker did well at the same time that the independents saw their market share plunge.

Myth 3: The 1954 Plymouth’s sales were terrible

Historians tend to use strong words when describing Plymouth’s 1954 sales. For example, Richard Langworth and Jan Norbye stated, “If Dodge’s 1954 sales performance wasn’t great, Plymouth’s was poor. . . . This was a serious setback because Plymouth was the Mopar breadwinner, and trouble here spelled real trouble for the entire company” (1985, p. 153).

Plymouth production was almost as low as in 1952. The brand’s share of the low-priced market dropped to 16.3 percent, which was a half percent under the previous low in 1949. Plymouth output also fell by more units than any other Chrysler brand — roughly 187,000. That was more than Dodge’s drop of roughly 165,000.

I would still argue that Langworth and Norbye had it backwards. Dodge production fell 52 percent — far more than Plymouth’s 29 percent. Plymouth’s decline was also lower than the rest of the automaker’s brands. DeSoto was off by 41 percent and Chrysler by 38 percent.

One myth is that 1954 Plymouth output was terrible

In other words, Chrysler’s biggest problem was its premium-priced brands. Their combined production fell almost 46 percent. In comparison, the industry as a whole saw output drop by only 20 percent.

To their credit, Langworth and Norbye (1985, p. 152) stated that Plymouth maintained its third-place status in the 1954 model year.

This is not the case with the How Stuff Works website, where Consumer Guide auto editors (2013) used calendar-year data for 1954 to paint a darker picture than I’d argue is fair. That’s because calendar-year production included the beginning of the 1955 model year, when Plymouth lost its third-place standing despite a brand-new design.

Another myth was that the restyled 1955 Plymouth saved the day

Here Langworth and Norbye also pushed their narrative too far. They stated that Buick and Oldsmobile surpassed Plymouth in calendar-year output because the automaker’s “long-running policy” to “build comfortable cars with lots of height and visibility . . . now ran smack into a public that seemed to prefer land yachts of the sort produced by General Motors” (Langworth and Norbye, 1985; p. 152).

Yes, GM’s premium-priced brands sold exceptionally well in 1955. However, Chrysler ended up falling behind them even though it tried to beat GM at its own game. The Exner-designed 1955 Plymouth was almost 15 inches longer than the bad-old 1953 Plymouth and eight inches longer than a 1955 Chevrolet.

Myth 4: The Plymouth’s key problem was its size

The auto editors of Consumer Guide (2013) summed up this myth as starkly as anyone: “The problem was size. Though Plymouth sat an inch lower than (a 1954) Ford, it was five inches shorter. It showed, aggravated by body lines that weren’t integrated somehow.” The fine folks at allpar.com echo this sentiment, noting that Plymouth downsized “when upsizing was popular” (Knutson, 2013).

Granted, the Plymouth looked awkward even with the 1954’s cleaner grille and new bumpers that stretched the car’s length four inches. Might the Plymouth have sold better with proportions and styling that better mimicked that of Ford and Chevrolet?

One way to test out that hypothesis is to compare the 1953-54 Plymouth and Dodge. The latter was closer to what the Plymouth could have looked like if its models had grown like the rest of the low-priced field.

The 1953 Dodge was longer and looked more convention than the Plymouth

The rear of the 1953 Dodge looked more conventional than the Plymouth

The Dodge’s two-door hardtop body style was based on the Plymouth’s 114-inch wheelbase but overall length was stretched to 196 inches. This was close to Ford’s and Chevrolet’s. The more conventional proportions were matched with styling that did not excite but also not take as many risks as the Plymouth.

1953 Dodge two-door hardtop

Meanwhile, Dodge’s four-door sedan and two-door club coupe were placed on a 119-inch wheelbase and the trunk was stretched 9.5 inches. This resulted in typical proportions for a brand at the low end of the premium-priced field.

1954 Dodge 4-door sedan

Given all that, how do we explain Dodge’s 52-percent drop in output, which was the greatest of any Big Three brand?

One factor could have been that both Plymouth and Dodge moved upmarket in 1954. The Plymouth Belvedere was expanded from a two-door hardtop model to a full line — which edged close in price to Dodge’s entry-level Meadowbrook. Dodge, in turn, tried to shift buyers from the Meadowbrook to a mid-range Coronet nameplate by giving the latter a broader range of body styles. A third, top-end Royal nameplate was added.

1954 Dodge two-door coupe

Output for the Coronet and Royal fell only 24 percent compared to that of the previous year’s Coronet series. The biggest problem was with the Meadowbrook, whose production plunged by 87 percent.

Up to 1960 many Plymouth and Dodge dealers were paired. The auto editors of Consumer Guide (2014) thought this was more of a problem for Plymouth. However, for 1954 this may have worked in the other direction. Some buyers who might otherwise have purchased a Meadowbrook may have instead gone with a Belvedere.

Dodge’s supposed advantages didn’t just include a more conventional size and appearance. Even entry-level models offered an optional V8 engine and an automatic transmission. Plymouth didn’t get a V8 until the 1955 model year. Automatics showed up at the end of February 1954 (Gunnell, 2002). This brings us to our next myth.

Myth 5: Lack of a V8 was a severe liability

One of the most pervasive examples of Detroit groupthink is the myth that a V8 engine had become essential to survival. For example, Langworth stated in a history about Hudson, “The importance of a V-8 in any automotive lineup around 1953 or 1954 cannot be underestimated” (1993b, p. 126).

To what degree did the lack of a V8 impact Plymouth’s 1954 sales? Dodge appeared to benefit from offering a V8 because production of this engine type fell by only 36 percent — half that of six-cylinder models. However, almost three times as many Meadowbrook sixes were produced as V8s. This is despite Dodge’s eights having a lower list price than all of its competitors except the Olds 88.

1954 Dodge had worst sales drop than the Plymouth despite offering a V8

Another data point is Studebaker, the only low-priced brand besides Ford to offer a V8 engine in 1954. Studebaker also had two other advantages over Plymouth: An automatic transmission for the entire model year, and a sedan body that was lower, longer and less stodgy than Plymouth’s.

Why then did Studebaker’s production drop by almost 55 percent — almost twice as much as Plymouth’s? The above advantages may have been offset by other factors. These included quality issues in the previous year’s models as well as the fear of buying a car from a financially shaky automaker. Another factor could have been that Plymouth held back from price increases for its lower-end models whereas Studebaker did not.

1954 Studebaker saw greater output decline than Plymouth

Studebaker’s weak output compared with other independents is harder to explain. The production of full-sized Hudson, Kaiser, Nash and Packard models fell 53 percent — 2 percent less than Studebaker’s. Yet none of them had a V8.

As another point of comparison, in 1954 Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler saw their production drop 46 percent. This was only 7 percent less than the above-listed independents. How could that be when all of Chrysler’s premium brands offered V8s?

List prices, 1953-54 U.S. auto brands

Add in output for compact models and the above-listed independent brands saw a collective decline of only 41 percent. This is not much higher than for Chrysler Corporation as a whole, which was off by 38 percent.

I am not suggesting that a V8 was irrelevant. Pontiac and Mercury make as good of an apples-to-apples comparison as any. They were somewhat similarly placed in the lower end of the premium-priced field. For 1954 both had only minor design changes. Yet Mercury saw its output drop 15 percent whereas Pontiac’s was double that amount. A major factor would appear to be that all Mercurys came with a V8 whereas Pontiac still offered only straight sixes and eights. However, Mercury may have also benefited from the Ford blitz.

One myth is that the premium-priced brands that did best in 1954 had V8s

One might speculate that the importance of a V8 grew as you went upmarket. By 1954 Packard was the last brand in the high end of the premium-priced field with a straight eight. George Hamlin and Dwight Heinmuller (2002) pointed to this as a major reason for the brand’s 65 percent output decline.

1954 Packard Clipper ad

It’s true that Packard’s volume fell 10 percent more than the lower-priced Studebaker. However, Nash and Hudson saw the greatest volume declines for their least-expensive full-sized models.

Nash’s entry-level Statesman was off by 64 percent — almost twice as much as its top-end Ambassador — even though the latter competed against popular V8-powered models such as the Buick Century. Hudson saw a similar pattern. The entry-level Wasp declined by 35 percent while the top-end Hornet was down less than 9 percent.

The primary reason why entry-level models of premium brands took the biggest hit was likely that Ford and Chevrolet were locked in a take-no-prisoners price war in the midst of a recession. This resulted in the two brands together producing 47.5 percent of total U.S. automotive output. This was almost 10 percent higher than 1951-52. Almost every other brand felt the squeeze.

1954 Buick Special got a V8 engine

A few brands did not do so badly. Buick was down by only 9 percent and Oldsmobile actually went up six points. The reason why may be that both brands (along with Cadillac) received the only major redesign for 1954. The cars’ lower bodies and wraparound windshields proved to be trendy.

Yet even here we find another anomaly. Buick’s entry-level Special received its first V8 in 1954, yet volume was down almost 13 percent. In contrast, Oldsmobile’s 88 models saw an 11-percent jump in production even though they already had V8s.

The moral to this story: A V8 may have mattered to full-sized cars in 1954, but it was often less important than other factors.

Myth 6: Plymouth should have kept up with Ford

Knutson (2014) described Plymouth’s loss of third place as “its greatest humiliation yet” and a turning point in the brand’s history. “Although Plymouth would regain third place several times in future years, it would never again put together the unbroken string it had, from 1931-1954, of third place in sales,” Knutson laments.

This critique seems to assume that if Keller hadn’t held Chrysler back from embracing bigger and glitzier designs that Plymouth would have kept up with the Big Two.

Also see ‘Did a rumor cause the downsized 1962 Plymouth and Dodge?’

One need not be an apologist for Keller to see how some historians push this argument too far. For example, the auto editors of Consumer Guide (2014) noted how Plymouth went from nipping at Ford’s heels in 1940 to being outsold two-to-one in 1950 and by 1954 trailing “Ford by an astonishing 71 percent.” They refer to this as “Plymouth’s postwar plunge.”

The following graph tells a different story. Plymouth didn’t plunge so much as Ford and Chevrolet output skyrocketed after 1948. Plymouth hovered within a fairly narrow band of 340,000 to 760,000 units whereas the Big Two rose above 1.5 million by 1962.

One myth is that Plymouth sales plunged in the 1950s

You could argue that Plymouth should have done a better job of keeping up with the Big Two. But in doing so, you might also consider that Chrysler was going to have a tougher time in the 1950s regardless of its products.

This is because the company’s prior success was made possible because of Ford Motor Company’s decline under an aging Henry Ford in the 1930s and 40s (Nevins and Hill, 1962). Ford quickly zoomed ahead of Chrysler in 1949 model-year output once Henry Ford II’s modernization efforts took hold. The giant had awoken.

One myth is that the 1956 Plymouth Fury sold better than the 1953 models

Colbert launched an aggressive effort to make Chrysler more competitive by emphasizing bigger, glitzier and more powerful cars. The restyled 1955 Plymouths did see a 52 percent increase in output over the previous model year.

That boost was short lived. By 1958 volume fell below 1954 levels — and did not rebound until 1963-64. This is when Plymouth once again emphasized efficient design to a greater degree than the Big Two. These Plymouths have also been widely misunderstood (go here for further discussion). 

Fake Plymouth: Not such an ugly duckling

The point of this essay is not to dismiss the problems with the 1953-54 Plymouth. The car did look frumpy. However, the key issue was not its size, but rather the design quality.

Consider the comparison below of a real and fake 1953 Plymouth. The photoshopped version holds closely to the original’s design cues but its height has been reduced by roughly four inches. This was achieved by lowering the cowl, squaring off the car’s teardrop shape and flattening the roof.

Our fake 1953 Plymouth shows how the car could look good without being bigger

You may notice some other changes. For example, the orthodontic grille is replaced with a chrome blade, the bumpers are smaller, and the front and rear fender blisters better align.

The result is hardly racy, but it does offer more conventional proportions — without increasing the car’s length. Reducing the height shouldn’t have impacted trunk space but headroom would no longer be unusually generous.

What if Chrysler had stayed the course?

Let’s play out our fake Plymouth one more step. What if Chrysler had maintained the car’s trim size through the rest of the 1950s? I’d argue that this would have left the automaker in better shape.

If Plymouth had refused to join the bloat brigade in the mid-50s, it would have fit nicely between a 1955 Ford and the post-1955 Rambler. As the Big Two’s standard models grew in 1957-59, the Plymouth’s more practical size could have become an advantage. And as discussed here, smaller wouldn’t have necessarily meant dowdy. Keller’s practicality and Exner’s stylishness were not incompatible.

The fake 1957 Plymouth debunks the myth that a smaller car couldn't be stylish

The strong sales of the Romney-era Rambler hint at the potential. Note in the above graph that Rambler volume ran neck and neck with Plymouth during 1960-63. This was despite Rambler fielding a weaker dealer network and some of the oldest designs in the American auto industry.

I suspect that there was nothing Chrysler could have done to keep Plymouth from falling behind the sales growth of Ford and Chevrolet. However, I do think Keller understood better than his successor that an automaker will be more successful over the long run if it builds cars which meet people’s real needs. Colbert’s obsession with glitzy styling — with its tragic impact on quality and practicality — was the prime cause of Plymouth’s collapse in the late-50s and early-60s (e g., Howley, 1993). 

Of course, you can’t seriously consider this view without questioning the above-listed myths. That’s why the unassuming 1953-54 Plymouth could help automotive historians see the post-war U.S. auto industry in a fresh, new way.

NOTES:

This is an expanded version of a story originally posted November 25, 2015. Market share for brands was calculated from figures listed in Wikipedia (2013). Market share, production figures and body specifications for individual nameplates were calculated from base data found in the Encyclopedia of American Cars (auto editors of Consumer Guide2006) and the Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975 (Gunnell, 2002). All data is supposed to be for model rather than calendar years. In instances where data from one source appeared to be erroneous, data from the other source was substituted. Dimensions are from the Classic Car Database (2015).

Figures on 1954-55 Plymouths were particularly inconsistent, e.g., Gunnell lists total model-year production in 1954 / 1955 as 433,000 / 672,100 whereas Wikipedia states 463,148 / 705,455; Consumer Guide publications range from 520,385 / 705,455 in Over 100 Years: The American Auto (2010) to 463,148 / 401,075 in the model-year production totals included in the 1993 edition of the Encyclopedia of American Cars. When adding up production broken out for individual models, the 1993 edition has a slightly higher total for 1954 than the 2006 edition: 463,148 versus 462,698. For 1955, both editions tally 704,445 units.

What made the most sense to me was to add up Gunnell’s production data on individual models; these totaled 463,148 / 704,464 for 1954 / 1955.

Share your reactions to this post with a comment below or a note to the editor.


RE:SOURCES

Langworth and Norbye's Complete History of the Chrysler Corporation, 1924-85

  • Auto editors of Consumer Guide; 2002. Cars of the Sizzling ’60s: A Decade of Great Rides and Good Vibrations. Publications International, Lincolnwood, Ill.
  • ——–; 2006. Encyclopedia of American Cars. Publications International, Lincolnwood, Ill.
  • ——–; 2010. Over 100 Years: The American Auto. Publications International, Lincolnwood, Ill.
  • ——–; 2013. “1951-1958 Plymouth Belvedere.” How Stuff Works. Accessed November 20, 2015.
  • Classic Car Database; 2015. “Search for Specifications.” Accessed November 20.
  • Flammang, James M., and the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide; 1995. Cars of the Fabulous ’50s: A Decade of High Style and Good Times. Publications International, Lincolnwood, Ill.
  • Gunnell, John; 2002. Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975. Revised 4th Ed. Krause Publications, Iola, WI.
  • Grist, Peter; 2007. Virgil Exner, Visioneer. Veloce Publishing, Dorchester, England.
  • Hamlin, George and Dwight Heinmuller; 2002. “America’s New Choice In Fine Cars: The Twenty-Sixth and the Fifty-Fourth Series, 1953-1954.” In Kimes, Beverly Rae, ed., pp. 562-581. Packard: A History of the Motor Car and the CompanyAutomobile Quarterly Publications.
  • Howley, Tim; 1993. “1940-48: Pride of the K. T. Keller Years.”Collectible Automobile, pp. 8-23, June issue.
  • Knutson, Lanny; 2013. “Plymouths of 1953 and 1954: Hy-Style and Hy-Drive.” Allpar.com. Accessed November 20, 2015.
  • Lamm, Michael and Dave Holls; 1996. A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design. Lamm-Morada Publishing Co.
  • Langworth, Richard M.; 1993a. Chrysler & Imperial 1946-1985: The Classic Postwar Years. Motorbooks, Minneapolis, MN.
  • ——–; 1993b. Hudson 1946-1957: The Classic Postwar Years. Motorbooks International, Osceola, WI.
  • Langworth, Richard M. and Jan P. Norbye; 1985. The Complete History of Chrysler Corporation 1924-1985. Publications International, Skokie, Il.
  • Nevins, Allan and Frank Ernest Hill; 1962. Ford: Decline and Rebirth 1933-1962. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, NY.
  • Niedermeyer, Paul; 2012. “Curbside Classic: 1955 Plymouth Belvedere Suburban — Suddenly It’s . . . 1956.” Curbside Classic. Posted Feb. 2; accessed November 15, 2015.
  • Severson, Aaron; 2013. “Looking Forward: Chrysler’s Early Fifties Transformation, Part 1.” Ate Up With Motor. Posted Jan. 29; accessed November 15, 2015.
  • Wikipedia; 2013. “U.S. Automobile Production Figures.” Accessed July 5.
  • ——; 2015. “Downsize (automobile).” November 25.

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Plymouth models 1954

List of Plymouth vehicles

Exterior Name Year Introduced Year Discontinued Platforms Generation Vehicle Information 1948 Plymouth Special De Luxe Club Coupe 3.5.jpgDe Luxe1946 1950 1 Full-size car. Special De Luxe was an upper trim model Plymouth Suburban Wagon (16344842661).jpgSuburban1949 1961 2 Station wagon 1951 Plymouth Cambridge (29176839133).jpgCambridge1951 1953 1 Full-size car, middle range model Brummen 2008 img 0049 (35854844865).jpgConcord1951 1952 1 Full-size car, least expensive model 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook.jpgCranbrook1951 1953 1 Full-size car, top-range model 67 Plymouth Belvedere II (9845141735).jpgBelvedere1954 1970 Chrysler B platform7 Middle range full-size car until 1965, intermediate car until 1970 1958 Plymouth Plaza (7437301556).jpgPlaza1954 1958 1 Entry-level car 1964 Plymouth Savoy four-door sedan.jpgSavoy1954 1964 Chrysler B platform5 Full-size car, least expensive model 1959 Plymouth Sport Fury photo-13.JPGFury1956 1978 Chrysler C platform
Chrysler B platform7 Top-range full-size (1956–1961, 1965–1974) and mid-size (1962–1964, 1975–1978) car, Sport Fury upper trim was available in 1959 and 1962–1971, VIP luxury trim was available in 1966–1969 Plymouth Valiant Scamp.jpgValiant1960 1976 Chrysler A platform3 Compact car 1973 Plymouth Barracuda photo-2.JPGBarracuda1964 1974 Chrysler A platform
Chrysler E platform3 Two-door muscle car Jerry Brown 1974 Plymouth Satellite.jpgSatellite1965 1974 Chrysler B platform3 Mid-size car, upper trim model of Belvedere 1970redGTX.JPGGTX1966 1971 Chrysler B platform3 Upper-trim mid-size muscle car Plymouth Road Runner 1969 5312706.jpgRoadrunner1968 1980 Chrysler B platform3 Basic-trim mid-size muscle car 1970 Plymouth Valiant Duster 340 (27366262585) (cropped).jpgDuster1970 1976 Chrysler A platform1 Two-door sports car SUperbirdEyes.jpgSuperbird1970 1970 Chrysler B platform1 Two-door race car / muscle car Cricket1971 1973 Subcompact car, rebadged Hillman Avenger1992-94 Plymouth Colt.jpgColt1974 1994 6 Compact / subcompact car, rebadged Mitsubishi MiragePlymouth Trail Duster.jpgTrail Duster1974 1981 Chrysler AD platform1 SUV 2000 Plymouth Voyager base 3-doorD.pngVoyager / Grand Voyager1974 2000 Chrysler S platform
Chrysler AS platform
Chrysler NS platform 3 Full-size van (1974–1983) and minivan (1984–2000) 1986 Plymouth Gran Fury Salon (14870099854) (cropped).jpgGran Fury1975 1989 Chrysler C platform
Chrysler R platform
Chrylser M platform 3 Full-size (1975–1981) and top range mid-size (1982–1989) car 1980 Plymouth Volare Duster.JPGVolaré1976 1980 Chrysler F platform1 Compact car Arrow1976 1980 1 Compact car, rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer CelestePlymouth-Horizon-1.jpgHorizon1978 1990 Chrysler L platform1 Subcompact car, called Plymouth Expo in Canada Plymouth Sapporo (1159952762).jpgSapporo1978 1983 1 Sports car, rebadged Mitsubishi Galant LambdaArrow Truck1979 1982 1 Two-door truck, rebadged Mitsubishi FortePlymouth Champ.jpgChamp1979 1982 1 Subcompact car, rebadged Mitsubishi Mirage79PlymouthHorizonTC3.jpgTC31979 1982 Chrysler L platform1 Subcompact car 1985-89 Plymouth Reliant K LE.pngReliant1981 1989 Chrysler K Platform1 Mid-size car, least expensive model Plymouth Caravelle, 83-85.pngCaravelle1983 1988 Chrysler E platform (Sedan)
Chrysler K Platform (Coupe) 1 Mid-size car, middle range model. First introduced in Canada in 1983 and then came to the United States in 1985 1983 Plymouth Scamp (14860591441).jpgScamp1983 1983 Chrysler L platform1 2-door truck, rebadged Dodge RampagePlymouthTurismo.jpgTurismo1983 1987 Chrysler L platform1 Subcompact car succeeding TC3 Plymouth Colt Vista 2.0 1988 (15168580470).jpgColt Vista1984 1994 1 Compact MPV, rebadged Mitsubishi ChariotConquest.jpgConquest1984 1986 1 Sports car, rebadged Mitsubishi Starion87-90 Plymouth Sundance coupe.jpgSundance1987 1994 Chrysler P platform1 Compact car succeeding Turismo Plymouth-acclaim.jpgAcclaim1989 1995 Chrysler A platform1 Mid-size sedan replacing Caravelle and Reliant 1990 Plymouth Laser RS Turbo red.jpgLaser1990 1994 Chrysler D platform1 Sports coupe 2nd Plymouth Neon -- 05-22-2010.jpgNeon1994 2001 Chrysler PL platform2 Compact car succeeding Sundance Plymouth Breeze .jpgBreeze1996 2000 Chrysler JA platform1 Mid-size sedan succeeding Acclaim 2008-10-05 Red Plymouth Prowler at South Square.jpgProwler1997 2001 Chrysler PR platform1 Sports car
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Plymouth_vehicles
1954, Plymouth Belvedere, Exterior and Interior, Retro Classics meets Barock 2015 Ludwigsburg

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1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 217 Six (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 217 Six Hy-Drive (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 217 Six Overdrive (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 217 Six PowerFlite (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 230 Six (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 230 Six Overdrive (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 230 Six PowerFlite (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)


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1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 217 Six (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)1954 Plymouth Belvedere Four Door Sedan 230 Six (P-25) ( Plymouth © Stellanis)

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