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“BLUEBELLE”... MY 1935 PLYMOUTH

By:Jim Saraceno

I am letting Jim tell his story here I enjoyed it just as he sent it to me and I hope you do to - Mark:

I’ve long been one who appreciates classic cars, but until my children had grown up and gone to college, I had neither the time nor money to actually have one of my own. When the time came, I had a budget and a plan. I looked for cars prior to 1954. My mind just doesn’t equate a car with a flat hood as an old car. I can still remember them new on the showroom floor. Those cars that had a distinct rounded or separated hood like most cars prior to 1955, have always been “old cars” to me. One day that will stick in my mind forever is the day they introduced the new ‘56s. I was in grade school and I passed by a Chevy dealer every day on the way too and from school. For those of you who can remember that far back, the dealers made a big deal about the new model year. There were no sneak previews, only the unveiling accompanied by an open house, complete with punch, snacks and give-aways. That dealer had a new car in the window for several weeks before the unveiling, but it was under wraps. You couldn’t see the car, but you could see it’s silhouette under the tarp. It was a strange and wondrous new car that had fins, both front and back! You couldn’t even tell which end was front or which one was back! Then came that day I had been waiting for. The new ’56 Chevy was shown to the world and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was very much like the ’55. All those fins I saw under the tarp had been a ruse to make me think that the new model was going to be something new and radically different, just as the ’55 had been from the ’54, but it was old and warmed over. I don’t think I ever got over the feeling that at 5 years old, I had already been taken for a ride.

I love the lines of the cars from the ‘30s and ‘40s, especially that short era during the ‘30s when the headlights were no longer mounted on a crossbar, but not yet integrated into the fenders. That art deco look. That look of the Golden Gate bridge, the Empire State building and the Chrysler building. Oh that Chrysler building!

More importantly, I was looking for a car that had a decent body. I have neither the tools, workspace, nor experience to do extensive body or paint work. I’m a “nuts and bolts” kind of guy and was confident that I could fix anything mechanical. The first lesson I learned was how good a car can look in a picture on the internet and how rough it could be when you saw it in person. I came across many cars that the owner was asking a show car price for “twenty footer” quality. It is amazing how much you can tell about a car by looking at the door jams and then crawling underneath. You can forget about the cars from the 30’s. Every one I had seen had been chopped and turned into a hot rod.

Then I came upon Bluebelle. A blue, 1935 four door touring sedan. The man selling it had bought it with the idea that he was going to chop it and rod it. Luckily he changed his mind and bought a rod all put together. It was the middle of winter and it was sitting in the garage, right where his wife wanted to park her car. Even though he had planned to sell it in the springtime, she took the initiative and put the ad in the paper. I called, went to take a look and fell in love right away. The lines... those exquisite art deco lines... she was just what I was looking for. When I crawled under her and saw her rock solid underside, I was ecstatic. It started right up and we went for a short ride. Never being one to jump into something without thinking it over, I took a number of pictures, went home, looked at them and slept on it. The next morning I was on the phone, did a little bargaining, and made an appointment to fill out the paper work.

I had my daughter come with me to drop me off then follow me home. Though it was a bit of a wild ride, with its loose steering, brakes, and clutch, it made it the 35 miles home without mishap. When I pulled into the driveway, my wife came out to see the car, and though she had been very supportive before I bought the car, I never expected her to get so excited about our new car. It was love at first sight. She promptly christened the car the fitting new name of “Bluebelle”.

I started working on the mechanics. Safety issues first (brakes and steering) then a full tune-up and lubrication. She was in decent mechanical condition even though it looked like nothing had been done to her for 15 years. By the time spring had rolled around, it was safe to drive. I had two occasions when it had to be towed home (fuel pump and coil) but as I tinkered with her, she became more and more reliable and we took her on longer trips. Since then I tinker with her in the summer and work on her in the winter. Eventually, I would like to take every nut and bolt apart, clean and rebuild every system, and end up with one beautifully restored car but I also look at it as a lifetime project. A repainting will not be in the picture before I retire. In the meantime, though, I do what I can, when I can, but only if I can get it done before the weekend. The big projects, the ones that will keep the car off the road for any length of time, are done from November to February. While there is a chance that there can be snow and salt on the roads, Bluebelle won’t venture out. During the good weather, my wife and I pack up a picnic and go for a drive in her every chance we can. We’ve been to cruises and to shows, but what we enjoy most is just going for a ride to some park for a picnic and hike or a leisurely scenic drive.

 

Even though she is geared too low for the fast lane highway speeds, she will cruise along at 55-60 m.p.h. all day long so she is capable of keeping up with traffic in the slow lane. With her six cylinder, flathead “floating power” engine, three speed synchromesh transmission, hydraulic brakes, shock absorbers, sway bar, and add on heater, she is smooth, comfortable and a joy to drive and ride in. She has four doors and a built in trunk so she is very roomy, easy to get in and out of, and has room for lawn chairs, a picnic basket and five people. She is very practical, the “mini-van” of 1935. Exactly the type of car that I would be looking to buy, if I was buying a new car back then. The fact that she is not a convertible, a coupe, or a Ford are all in my favor. They combined to keep Bluebelle in my price range. There is nothing about her to put a premium on her price tag. Of course, that would work against me if I were to sell her, but that’s not going to happen. She’s just what I want. I’ve always had an affinity for the “under appreciated” more than the “over priced”. That’s the kind of guy I am, and that’s the kind of car I drive.

Jim Skinner's 1937 - PLYMOUTH (P4)

 





His car is my 1937 P-4 which he purchased in 2007 and he spent the first year he owned it, restoring it. Jim drives it often, at least twice weekly. The Plymouth is painted Light Grey and Mouse Grey.


 



Brian Kearney's 41 Coupe


My grandson found it listed in a local hotrod magazine and located on Long Island, NY. He called me to say he saw it and thought I might be interested. A rodder had bought it from a town politician in Danbury, Conn. and when he actually started getting into the car he realized how original it was and couldn't bring himself to cut it up so he advertised it for sale. He had received paperwork from the owner that went back to the original dealer in New York. After I bought the car and joined he POC I got the builders car from WPC museum and found that it had the original engine and in fact was sold to the first owner from that dealer. So it is a very well documented car with only two previous owners. It is very original in every way.

I brought it home to NC in the New Bern area and joined a local chapter of the AACA ( First Capital .) I enjoy taking it to local shows, cruises and other old car activities. It is no problem for me to go out for the day on a 150 mile trip and enjoy the ride. The car is very reliable and thanks to the POC forums I have been able to acquire a few additional parts that it needed and also to get tech info to remove the rear drums and service the rear brakes. I do all the work myself to keep her in tip top running condition and also bought an overdrive from Neil Riddle but have been reluctant to put it in since it will alter the originality of the car.

 

 

   
   

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