Plenty of Cars to Choose From and New Styling
Plymouth car buyers in 1939 were offered nine types of models to choose from. These were a four-door Touring Sedan, a two-door Touring Sedan, a four-door Sedan, a two-door Sedan, a Coupe, a seven-passenger Sedan, a Convertible Coupe, a Convertible Sedan, and a Suburban. Plenty to choose from. In fact, it was the largest selection of Plymouth's in seven years.
The 1939 Plymouth was known as the biggest Plymouth built to date. Extra seat room, leg room and head room was a highly marketed attribute.
In essence, aside from the unchanged under body, the 1939 Plymouth was an entirely new styled vehicle compared to the 1938 model. This included the extra room as mentioned above but also some added safety features such as a flat dashboard. Another interesting feature of the 1939 Plymouth was that the entire car body, fenders and all steel body components received rustproofing. The styling of the 1939 Plymouth was performed by the Chrysler design staff.
The 1939 Plymouth was known for excellent engineering, durability and styling.These attributes would stick with Plymouth through the mid 1950's. Plymouth was also marketed as a relatively low priced vehicle. The lowest priced 1939 Plymouth could be bought new at around $700. This of course was at a time when the country was still fighting the effects of the Great Depression.
1939 Plymouth Specifications
1939 Plymouth specifications included an L-head type six cylinder engine with a displacement of 201.3 cubic inches. The engine delivered 82 horsepower. As an option, Plymouth offered a high compression 86 horsepower engine.
The 1939 Plymouth transmission was built as silent auto-mesh with helical gears and six ball and roller bearings.
Suspension on all four wheels consisted of telescopic aero-hydraulic, double-acting shock absorbers. Front springs were wishbone and rear springs were semi-elliptic.
The Briggs Body Company built all the body's for the 1939 Plymouths. The company began building auto bodies in 1908. Baseball historians might remember that Walter Briggs was an owner of the Detroit Tigers for decades. Also, for decades, the stadium where the Detroit Tigers played ball was named Briggs Stadium just outside downtown Detroit.
Wheelbase was 114.0 inches and overal car length was 188.2 inches.
1939 Plymouth Production Figures
Plymouth, owned by Chrysler Corporation, was a part of the top three American automobile brands along with Ford and General Motors. During the 1939 model year Plymouth produced a total of 417,528 units. About 6,000 of those automobiles were two door coupe convertibles with the popular rumble seat.
To give you a perspective of what overall automobile production figures were for the 1939 model year, Chevrolet led the pack with about 577,000 vehicles, Ford came in second with a total of 487,000 vehicles and Plymouth was in third place with about 424,000 vehicles. Buick was distant fourth with about 208,000 units and Dodge fifth with about 186,000 vehicles. Estimated figures come from the Consumer Guide.
See links below to two additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy.
The Long Legacy of Chrysler
Chrysler began operations when Walter P. Chrysler reorganized the Maxwell- Chalmers Company into Chrysler Corporation in the early 1920's. The Plymouth nameplate came about in 1928 when the company started to build a product line at various price levels. That very same year Chrysler bought out the Dodge brothers and the Desoto brand was also introduced. The year 1929 was obviously a milestone year for the relatively new Chrysler Corporation.
In the later decades, Chrysler experienced some economic woes which led ex Ford executive Lee Iococca (the man who created the hugely popular Ford Mustang) and then Chrysler president and chairman to seek a U.S. government loan in 1979. The company received the loan, business improved greatly and the loan was fully repaid with interest.
As far as the Plymouth nameplate went, the line was discontinued in 2001. At that time the Chrysler Corporation was owned by the Daimler-Benz German car company. Chrysler of course filed for bankruptcy due to the severe economic downturn in 2008-2010. Chrysler emerged out of bankruptcy with new owners. These included the Italian automaker Fiat, the U.S. and Canadian governments as well as the UAW pension fund.
1939 Plymouth Collector Values
As a ll car collectors know, values for vintage vehicles are determined by on not only the degree of restoration, popularity and rarity of a model but also on current economic conditions.
As of this writing, some of the auction results for the 1939 Plymouth's vary between about $7,000 to the high $30,000 range.
(Photos from author's collection)