John F. Smeltzer's Plymouths
John's first 1949 Plymouth was purchased in about
1969 when at the tender age of 16 he was able to convince his father that he needed his own set of wheels. His
father's admonishment to him was .... "Well, find something for me to look at!" and so John did just
that. In the local Cherokee Daily Times newspaper was a small ad advertising "1949 Plymouth - Good Condition
- $90" and the ad included a phone number from a nearby town.
Now John didn't have a clue what a 1949 Plymouth looked like in 1969 and of course he didn't much care. His pop
had asked him to find a car he could look at and there it was, right in the local paper.....all $90 of it. His
dad had a friend who lived in this nearby town who volunteered to go look at the car and within a few days the
friend reported back .... "John could drive that car anywhere!" John's dad was sold on it sight unseen
by that glowing report from a trusted friend and after a transaction of $70 cash money (a little dealin' had to
take place you know) between his father and the seller, whose name John never knew, John had his first 1949 Plymouth
She was kinda grey and had a sunvisor and a little rust in the rockers but she purred like a kitten and ran like
a fine watch. And, of course John had to immediately take off that "stupid" sunvisor and apply body putty
about 4 inches thick to fill up the rusted out rocker panels....but it smoothed off real nice and held for a long
time. The "kinda grey" color soon turned to "really red" when John found a body and paint guy
who said he would paint her for $25 if he bought the paint and did the masking. And so, he ended up with a bright
red, 1949 Plymouth that purred like a kitten and ran like a watch. And so, for the next 35,000 miles or so, John
drove her to high school and college, to football, basketball, baseball and track games and practices, drove her
on dates, went fishing and hunting out of her and just generally enjoyed the "H" out of that old car.
Well, eventually John got too smart for his own good and decided he needed something else so the '49 went into
storage of sorts in a friends pasture where she managed to pretty much melt down over the course of the next 25
years. John still has many of the trim pieces and even kept the trunk lid with all of the chrome intact in his
mom and dads basement as silent testimony to my youthful days at home.
Now, spin forward to 2002 when the bug to get another 1949 Plymouth hits John. He had to locate "Uncle Johnny"
in Albuquerque, NM on the internet and proceed to deal with an unknown seller on an unknown car via telephone and
a few pictures. But, the bug had John bad and the result was another 1949 Club Coupe being shipped to him via common
carrier and delivered to his door step. Uncle Johnny had arrived. And the love affair was rekindled.
And then he found out about the wonders of 1949 Plymouth parts on eBay...everywhere on eBay....every day. John
had pieces and parts coming in weekly. His wife wondered what the blue blazes he was up to. And the pile grew larger.
John still has Uncle Johnny and a whole lot of parts to upgrade and refurbish him but really haven't managed to
make that sort of progress that can be visibly measured over these last 5 years directly. Uncle Johnny starts well
and gets run quite a bit but has yet to hit the road again. But, John does have reams of newfound knowledge (and
lots of parts) mostly because of Uncle Johnny. John know that his prospects remain bright.
Spin forward a bit more and its 2003, another day on eBay, not that long after the acquisition of "Uncle Johnny"
John located a '49 for sale about 25 miles from his parents home in northern Iowa. He called them up on the phone
and ask if they remembered all of those good times they had "together" with that first '49. And, being
the loving parents that they are, they dutifully said "Yes...of course....what a wonderful time that was!"
And then then he dropped the other shoe....."How would you like to have another one?" Silence filled
the air. But, ultimately they consented and a decent 1949 four-door sedan parts car now occupies a place of honor
on the concrete slab in front of their big "storage" garage. Covered of course. And John's wonderful
wife grew more concerned about his sanity.
Jump to the summer of 2006 and you find John at his in-laws bored out of his skull and trying to find anything
to occupy a couple of unfilled hours. He is digging around on the internet and runs across an ad for a 1949 Plymouth
Club Coupe in Denver, Colorado. Now, Denver is about 60 miles from where he lives in northern Colorado so he figured
it was at least worth a look. And right he was.....he went to visit and when he opened the garage door to take
a look he immediately knew she had to be his. It was truly love at first sight....the way it should be. John could
hardly contain his enthusiasm .... but time and those sometimes painful experiences that time offers us .... had
taught him to maintain a substantial degree of manly dignity. He was of course an adult and needed to maintain
an adult level of composure. Easy to say but very hard to do when the car you've always dreamed of is sitting in
front of you. The seller was absentee and the deal was negotiated through an estate management company.
After a couple of back and forth propositions a
deal was struck and "Aunt Margaret" came home with John. Now, Ms. Margaret Williams was the original
owner of this marvelous 1949 Deluxe Club Coupe. She was truly a one-owner car. Bought at Cullen-Thompson Motors
in 1949 for approximately $1,435, she had a heater but lacked a radio because it seems that since Ms. Margaret
Williams lived and worked in Denver she felt that a heater was more important than a radio and she "needed
to keep the cost down". A very wise lady indeed. Margaret Williams, Aunt Margaret to her family, lived to
be almost 103 years young. She passed away in 2005 and her beloved 1949 Plymouth sat in her dark garage without
much attention until that fateful day in August 2006 when her '49 passed from one set of loving arms into another.
In June 2007 the newly named "Aunt Margaret" had a chance to visit Tulsa, Oklahoma to take in the sights,
tour the city, meet a bunch of wild Plymouth lovers and stop by to look at that much much younger 1957 Plymouth
that was plucked from the ground in such a sorry condition. Too bad Miss Belvedere couldn't have stayed at Aunt
Margaret's house. She would have been one fine lady ..... like Aunt Margaret.
So, as we speak, John has three 1949
Plymouth's and parts enough for four. He is hoping to be able to acquire a '49 convertible one of these days. But,
he's got enough projects for the moment and those eBay packages continue to roll in. One of these days all of those
parts are going to come together and Aunt Margaret and Uncle Johnny will really start chalking up many new carefree
miles. And that's John's story ....... a story of a boy who doesn't really want to grow up and cars that never
really grow old ....... those wonderful 1949 Plymouths.
Just remember, Plymouth Builds Great Cars!"
Post-script.....Aunt Margaret is the blue P18 Deluxe Club Coupe. Uncle Johnny is the green P18 Special Deluxe Club
Coupe with the fender skirts.
Ben Powers 46 looks real good!
Ben's 1946 P15S four door sedan became a part of the Powers collection when his father purchased the car in October
1986. It had been all but abandoned in a potato barn in nearby Maple Island MN for over 10 years after having been
in an accident. The rear passenger side door was smashed and the deck lid had been dented in when put away. The
car barely ran as the current owner knew nothing about 6v+ electrical systems. The 6v battery was installed backwards
and the car had to be pulled to start.
After replacing the bad door and deck lid, both were given a matching spot paint job. After some adjustments, the
1946 Plymouth became a strong reliable runner. Ben's father was a Ford man at the time, and upon purchasing a nicer
looking 1947 Ford, considered selling our Plymouth in 1990.
By that time, Ben had become attached to the poor neglected Plymouth which spent her summers parked outside. Ben
didn't have his driver's licence, but began getting the car ready for a "cool" first car. Ben joined
the Plymouth Owners' Club, and located an 802 MoPar AM radio and had it rebuilt. He also purchased a 6v FM converter
and cassette player. He even removed the rusty interior window mouldings and repainted them a dark mahogany colour.
By the time he got his driver's licence at 16, Ben had one of the "coolest" cars at his school. Despite
the faded peeling grey paint and the deteriorating old upholstery, the 1946 Plymouth stood out among the '80s Ford
Escorts and Tempos that many of his high school classmates drove in the early '90s.
While in college, Ben was able to get a few dollars together get the Plymouth a much needed paint job. While leaning
strongly towards a red or blue, he decided to repaint the car the same Gunmetal grey that it originally had. The
12 year old paint still looks good with a good couple coats of quality wax. He drove the car often in the summertime,
but had money for nothing more than an annual oil change and gasoline.
In 1997, while traveling to a company picnic on his first real job, the engine blew. The 1946 Plymouth sat in the
corner of his father's storage building for over three years while Ben tried to get together enough money to either
rebuild or replace the non-running engine. A rebuilt donor engine was found in 2000, and after making a move 600
miles, the engine was swapped.
Ben's 1946 Plymouth has made many moves these past 8 years. From Minnesota to Arkansas in 2000. Back to Minnesota
in 2002, and now to Colorado. With proper maintenance and an eye on reasonable speed, these old MoPars can run
for ever. Ben expects his nieces and nephews to squabble over the car when he is gone.
The next big project for this car is a new interior.
Maybe next year, as he spent a small fortune rebuilding the transmission this spring. Almost every spring it is
one thing or another that needs professional help. 2000-New engine, 2001-replace cracked windshield, 2002-new head
gasket, 2003-Broken valve springs, 2004-rebuilt master cylinder, 2006-replace cracked front windows, 2007-replace
rear door latch, 2008-rebuilt transmission. He is ever hoping that 2009 will be the year for a new upholstery.
However, he does have a pair of spotlights given to me in 2006 that call my name.
Gary Cameron's Fine Fifty
Gary lives in western Kansas and one day while reading the
Sunday paper he noticed an item in an upcoming auction with it was a small picture. It was a 1951 Plymouth business
The coupe caught his interest because he drove a 1951 Cambridge 2D sedan to high school.
The auction was only 110 miles from his home, just a hop skip and a jump in western Kansas. Gary decided to check
The auction took place on a cold overcast rainy day in late October, the crowd was small. The car looked pretty
good sitting out in the rain so he decided to bid on it. It was raining so hard that the auction was held under
shelter about 100 feet from the car. The owner trudged out into the storm and started the engine. It started right
up and sounded pretty good from that distance. To his wife's surprise and a very shocked look, Gary ended up being
the winner at the price of $1450.
The owner came up to him and said, you won't be sorry because the only thing wrong is that the ammeter registers
backwards but it does not run the battery down. Gary later discovered the cause of this was that the battery had
been installed with a Negative Ground. When he switched the cables the ammeter worked correctly and no other symptoms
have came up. Long story short, he thinks that luck was with him that day as he has been very happy with the car.
It is a very nice driver and now that he is retired he will do some cosmetic repairs to improve the car.
Gary has some NOS parts to install (plastic letters for hood, plastic insert in hood ornament, Plymouth script
on trunk lid, total factory boxed heater system with duct, dash clock, radio, and more.) Also needed is a repaint
of the dash and interior window trim. A previous owner redid the interior and it is fine for a driver but is not
Even Gary's wife now thinks that he got a heck of a deal that day.
|David Rainville's 1931 roadster.
This car was purchased new by David's father-in-law in California. He drove it 65,000 miles then put it in storage
in his sisters garage. He had converted it to seal beam headlights and 600-16 tires. Fortunately he saved the original
rims. After marrying his daughter he told me of this car and showed it to me. Seeing my enthusiasm he decided to
get it running again. He took it to his old shade tree mechanic who proceeded to tighten the rods by filing the
rod caps. Knowing this was going to be a disaster, David talked him into letting him restore the car. David's father-in-law
decided that he would give the car to David - he added the originial rims before he did and that was very fortunate.
Fast forward 30 plus years until Daviid's own son said to him, "if I don't find all these parts and put them
together, who's ever going to?" David realized his son was right, so David spent the next two years searching
through boxes, haunting e-bay and the internet, joining the Plymouth club and subscribing to Hemmings. Fortunately
David himself now has a son-in-law who was able to make or repair a number of items he wasn't able to locate or
purchase. So what goes round - comes round as they say and now we all can enjoy the car here in photos and for
David proceeded restoring the car. He rebuilt the engine, brakes, new paint, had all of the chrome redone, a host
of other things and was in the process of re-wiring the car when his father-in-law had a heart attack and died.
Since David's main objective at that time was to get it restored for his father-in-law to drive, with him now gone
now the project came to a halt with the car completely apart. The fenders and other body parts were hanging from
the rafters and walls and all the small stuff in multiple boxes. David spent his time with his four kids and trying
making a living starting a new business - the Plymouth waited,