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Stevemo

Looking at a 1934 Dodge Special Deluxe

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Hi All,

I have suddenly got the itch to obtain a vintage car for fairly regular driving and the 1934's have my attention. I have been in contact with an owner of a "1934 Dodge Special Deluxe". This is supposed to be a two-owner car with a recently rebuilt engine and about 67,000 miles. There is only 1 photo of the car and the quality of the picture is poor but I can tell it doesn't have the original paint as there are no pin-stripes.

How can I confirm that this car is what it is supposed to be and how do I determine if the engine is original to the car? I've done some reading on here and am under the belief that this could possibly have a Chrysler undercarriage because it is likely a Canadian car? I'd like to know more about that as well. Lastly, what kind of fuel mileage would one of these rigs obtain? I expect it would see 5 to 10,000 km a year if I got it.

Thank you for the help!

Steve

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Hey Steve.

The only way to determine what the engine / colour of the car is would be to apply to get a copy of the original build card from Detroit. I believe you can apply via the Walter P Chrysler Museum web site.

You will need the serial number found on the plate on the Drivers Side door pillar ( which is also stamped on the chassis just forward of the passenger side front spring insert and just below the radiator cowl ).

The only other way to determine the colour is remove the fabric lining material between the rear window and the drivers rear door and you'll find it written in paint on the body ( I've attached a pic of mine which reads Empire Maroon RHD - Right Hand Drive - DR - model number ).

Special Deluxe ? so on the body tag on the firewall does it have DRXX then a number ? Also are your front side windows have a double action movement so the 1/4 vent window and the side window be able to be wound down seperately or as one unit ?

The 4 door 34's basically came out in two versions The DR and the DRXX so I'm not really sure what the Special Deluxe had or if this call this due to the extras it had.

I can see by the running board that it is fairly worn. I'd check for rust in 3 places - 1/ under the carpet in the front where the pillar below the windscreen meets the floor, 2/ where the rear door meets the rear mudguard, check on the floor there and the rear wheel arches. These are where the 34's rust the most.Obviously check the doors and under the running boards.

I don't know the Detroit / Canadian serial numbers and one of the other guys that will probably read this will jump in with that info. Same with the fuel consumption they will probably know a lot more than me.

More pics and how much are they asking for it ? Without knowing the car and the one photo i'd estimate approx $12k ( unrestored )

Cheers

Ian

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Hi Ian,

That is some very good information on where to check the car out. I will have the owner get some photos of the #s you mentioned so I can figure out what it is, I do not think it is a DRXX because of the 12 hood louvers. The literature I've seen shows the brougham as having a different rear-end and there is a 7-passenger car with a longer front door so the title doesn't really match anything I've read about. I suspect it may be an inaccurate title or just an options package of some sort as I think I can see two windshield wiper mounts in the photo.

I am a bit leary of the fact that it is a 2 owner car, it probably hasn't had a proper mechanical inspection done since it left the factory. Used cars in Ontario need safety inspections so it is always an opportunity to force the new owner to fix up a few things. The seller is asking 10k which is within range of what a past Hemmings article indicates they are worth but that does not take into consideration as to how expensive Canadian labour is compared to the US.

As mentioned, I'll try to get some more photos of the #s and also some better body and interior photos. It will take a 1 nights stay and a couple hundred bucks to make a round trip to see this car so I'm hoping I can have a reasonable amount of certainty before I decide to go to see it.

Steve

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Hi Steve,

I have a thread called " Slow Progress but getting there ". Have a look and I try and detail a lot of the work I do on the car.

If you look under Our Cars and Restoration Projects and a forum " Reconstruction of a 34 Chevy Master Coup " Pat lives in Canada and if you proceed might be worth getting in touch with as he probably has a number of contacts.

You can also buy new running boards from Buckeye Rubber ( I bought mine from them and had them shipped to Australia ).

I guess I wasn't far out with the $12k. but like I said, it depends more on condition. Post some more photos when you get them, I'd be interested to see what the rest of the car looks like.

Cheers

Ian

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Yes,

I bumped into Pat on the Chevy forum at another website. His work is impressive, especially if you consider where he lives. He must have spent a lot of time watching the mail box as cars do not last long up there. Generally after 10 years your car is dead from rust or rough roads so the chances of having local knowledge on such an old car is not good. I have to say the Chevy guys are more talkative, I may have to threaten to have my neighbour's 13 year old daughter chop and channel this car to get a bigger response. :eek:

I've also looked through your pages and the progress and workmanship look quite good. My intent is to get something without body holes so I can avoid that type of work, I just want to drive it for the first 5 years.

Can anybody comment on fuel economy? The question has to do with curiosity, range and comparison with other makers to see how they stack up. I saw something about 18 mpg in a brochure but it wasn't really official, that brochure also tried to imply that 70 mph was normal for the car.

Thanks again, Steve

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. . . Can anybody comment on fuel economy? The question has to do with curiosity, range and comparison with other makers to see how they stack up. I saw something about 18 mpg in a brochure but it wasn't really official, that brochure also tried to imply that 70 mph was normal for the car.

Thanks again, Steve

I think my '33 Plymouth has pretty much the same engine. They stroked the Plymouth in '34 to 201 cu.in. got about 10% more power. Dodge generally had a bit more displacement from the same block so I would not be surprised if the '34 Dodge would have a 218.

Anyway, depending on how I drive, I get between 14 MPG (freeway at 60 MPH) to 18 MPH (back roads at 35 to 45 MPH). Aerodynamics on this era (and earlier) car are dreadful so speed really kills your mileage.

My car will do 60 MPH fairly comfortably but anything faster is "interesting" as the spring rates and damping are not setup for it and the narrow bias ply tires really find the grooves in the highway. Not sure how big the brakes are on the '34 Dodge, but 50 MPH to 60 MPH is plenty fast for the narrow 10" drums on my '33. I think Plymouth went to 2" wide brakes in '34 or '35 and that would really help on hard stopping. You probably have 600-16 tires on your '34 so you'll have a bigger choice of tires which might allow you to find some that are less enamored with finding ruts and grooves in the pavement.

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Hi Stevemo

If this is a '34 Dodge "Special Deluxe" then it is likely model DR - 217.8 cu. in. Canadian serial number range is 9401391 - 9403280. US range is 3680001- 3756367. If it is a Canadian build, you likely won't be able to get a build card from Detroit because they only have US production archived there. Canadian production archives are not available to the best of my knowledge. I wish they were so I could get a definitive report on my '36 Dodge.

Looks like a great car. Hope it turns out to be as nice up close. I'd be happy to have a look at it if it's close to me. Good luck!

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Okay, I got in touch with the owner today and got some information on the car.

The motor was rebuilt because it was blowing smoke, he indicated a bit about what was done but more importantly he has the paperwork which gives the exact details. Most other major maintenance was done to it when he got it 20/25 years ago but it was up-kept since then.

He also indicated that the car is complete, the interior only has a couple wear points, the fuel tank was cleaned out after the rebuild, and that the radiator looks like it probably has been replaced but matches the car.

The bigger issues for me is that the roof is not watertight and there is a 3" hole beneath the rear passenger door on the drivers side. There is also a bit of damage on the opposite rear fender but damage is not a big deal to me. How widespread does the rust get on these cars? If I have a 3" hole does that mean the whole rocker panel is shot from end to end? Would the rust be up into the door frame and over to the rear floor? Further to that, does that mean the whole car is going to be in bad shape as far as rust goes?

I am going to get some better photos in about a week.

What do you guys think so far?

Cheers, Steve

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Hi Steve,

Mine had rust in the same place which after sandblasting I had cut out and repaired.

The roof leaking is fixable. If your timbers are in good shape it may just be the requirement to remove it, recover the roof and reveal it. if you go back through my posts I posted pics on reinstalling my roof.

Ive seen a lot of cars since working on mine and to be really honest, you won't know what you've got until it is stripped and sandblasted. This is the only way for sure to tell. If the car looks ok underneath and in the areas I suggested to look at and rust is a minimum then that's really all you can do. Like everyone on these forums you'll always find the unexpected. I was at the guys factory who did my body work the other day and he had a 34 Plymouth there. every panel was dinged including the roof and when he had it at the sandblaster he was called up to come and have a look at it. Believe it or not there was a dint in the door and 1 1/2" of filler. The blaster asked if he wanted him to keep going. luckily that was the depth but imagine filling a dint with that much filler.

Your looks like a fairly solid car and yeah it does a wear signs but at least it's complete and may need a bit of repair hear and there. Grab some more photo ( underneath as well if possible ) and hope rust is minimum.

Cheers

Ian

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Take a small magnet with you and when looking at the car, stick it someplace that there prob. isnt going to be mud ( maybe top of door ) get a feel for how hard it is to pull it off and then stick it down low. If its packed with glass/bondo than the magnet will not stick or will be very easy to remove.

You do not want too strong of a magnet, something small and lightweight.

Look in places the paint has chipped off and see if there is metal showing, I can tap on suspected places and hear a difference in the sounds. You can also learn this with a little bit of practice.

Edited by 1930 (see edit history)

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I suspect that 25 year old bondo will be easy to spot, I think it would be cracked and the paint peeling by now. I'm not actually that worried about it as long as it isn't hiding rust. From some research I've done, it turns out that the hole in the car isn't actually in the body, it is part of the running board which is a big relief. That doesn't go into the car so I could negotiate my way out of fixing that for the "safety inspection".

I suppose I'm just waiting on the photos so that I can make an offer on the car. I'm concerned somebody who's looking for a car to restore may swoop in and buy the thing site unseen while I'm waiting but hopefully not...

Cheers, Steve

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Okay,

Things are starting to move now. I got a better quality photo of the previous picture plus a photo of her rear end from a few years ago. They dug the building out with a tractor yesterday so recent photos should be coming tonight. The higher quality photo makes me think the fenders are junk but hopefully not.

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Steve

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Sadly, she's in rougher shape than I anticipated. I suppose the question is whether to go and get it or wait for something better. What would you guys say? Do '34 4-doors come up for sale very often? I wanted a driver but this rig may only have 1 or 2 summers before it becomes a laughing stock requiring a 15 grand body job. :(

Thanks again, Steve

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From that serial number, here is what my lookup table provides:

Serial Number: 9402007

Found in range: 9401391 to 9403280

Serial: 617 of 1890

Year: 1934

Make: Dodge

Model Name: Six

Model Code: DR

Plant: Windsor

Engine: 6 cylinder 217.8 cu.in. L-head

Wheelbase: 117 inches

Interestingly, the engine number does not look like it starts with "DR" which would, I think, mean it is not original. But it looks like a '33/'34 block rather than the typical swap to a later '35 and up engine. Maybe I'm wrong about the engine number or what it should be.

Not the right carburetor for a Plymouth but maybe correct for a Dodge, you'll need a Dodge person to say for sure. Air cleaner looks like the '34 Mopar one. Looks like it is equipped with the freewheeling transmission and the control lever on the transmission has the spot for the automatic clutch control cable. Does it have the automatic clutch or is it missing? (Photos of the engine compartment are for the other side.)

Looks like they did the same butchery to the top that I did the first time around before I learned how it was supposed to go. Unfortunately you need to pull the headliner out to fix that which means a lot of the upholstery panels too.

Plymouth prior to '35 or '36 had a black firewall regardless of body color. Was that true of Dodge too? If so then its a repaint which was done incorrectly.

That splash apron should be easy to fabricate and I think the running boards are available. At least the Plymouth ones for the same year are so I assume Dodge are too. But there is other rust that will not be as easy to deal with.

My take is that it might be a reasonable driver for the moment but it will take a full restoration, probably body off to fix the rust, to make it "right". My take on Chrysler products of that era is that the mechanicals are fairly easy with good parts availability but broken or missing trim items are a real pain. Not all doors are shown so it is not obvious if there are broken or missing window cranks, door handles, escutcheon plates, etc. You might want to verify that.

Gas mileage? I get about 14 MPG (US Gallon) with my '33 which has similar engine and body. I'd expect about the same for that one once sorted out.

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Hey Steve,

I agree with Ply33 100%. You can replace the running boards ( with original pattern ) easily enough. The roof will require a bit of work and it appears that the join between the body and mudguards at the rear have a bit of rust too. But hey, we are talking 80 years old.

The rust just above can be cut out and replaced however you don't know how far it goes until you keep looking. Petrol tank may also need an overhaul.

The engine number for 34's do start with DR......my original block has DR61303 on it. the block looks an original as you can see the cylinder shapes in the block where the later ones have a water jacket to improve cooling and therefore are not visible.

The good news is that the "jewelry" all appears to be there and intact. headlights, horns, control knobs etc....all look reasonable and these are the expensive things to replace. How does the rear body work etc look ?

If it was me.....you are buying a complete car so at least you know what you are getting. I would offer him $6 to $8k and point out that it would immediately cost $4k of work to make it drivable. That may give you an additional year or so before a rebuild. Hope this info helps a bit but it is a tough call if it's not in front of you and even more difficult with just photos.

Cheers

Ian

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I would re-route that fuel filter/line before getting it running.

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Not trying to put a damper on this, but I'd be very careful with this car. Lots of good things - pretty complete, lots of hard to find items are there, very attractive car - but I can see some things that are eerily similar the my project and they spell trouble. Yes that splash apron can be fabricated, but I wouldn't call it an easy job. It looks like it was just painted over the rust and pits - not a good sign of what's under the rest of that blue paint. I'd be even more worried about the area above the apron. That looks like a hunk of bondo peeling off. This was the area on my DL that turned out to be nothing but rust - and I only had a small hole showing before the paint came off, nothing as bad as yours was visible. I would almost guarantee that that strip just below the doors and above the apron is toast and that one is no picnic - just see my thread for what we had to do to get that area right. That crack in the fender, I suspect, is just the beginning. I had the same sort of rust showing on my back fenders and once we got them off there was literally no good metal in the area where the fender meets the body. Again, all this can be repaired, but I have seen some nice, driver quality Chrysler product sedans from this era go for between ten and fifteen thousand. Even if you got it for four grand, you'll have another fifteen in it to get it to a dependable driver. Take it from someone in the middle of the same process. It's a cool looking car, but not a daily driver in that shape. I can only guess what the brakes, cooling system, wiring and fuel tank are like. As a project, I'd say get it cheap if you can and enjoy working on it, but don't plan a nice Sunday drive in the next few weeks.

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I wonder if it would be possible to look at the rust as an opportunity? If I got the car for the right price I could get to work on it, it drives me nuts to see the TV shows where they restore cars that look brand new.

I did a bit of searching last night and it looks like fibreglass fenders and running boards are about 1 grand per side for new replacements including welting, etc. I couldn't find steel fenders so links to them would be appreciated if they exist. What has me puzzled is the orange coming through all over the place, it looks like Bondo glazing putting or something but would somebody put that over the whole car? A true no body filler restoration probably would not be the sensible approach on this car. It would be better to patch it up as close to the contour as possible and build up the rest with a good fibreglass filler.

The owner also indicated that the glass is going bad so that would need to be changed at some point too but atleast I'd know it had proper safety glass in it.

How about the fabric? Is that original? I see a big stain on the back seat but that could be covered with a blanket.

At least I have a bit of time to think about this car now, I know it won't be selling like hot cakes. The owner said it would go to be auctioned off in the spring if it doesn't move.

Cheers, Steve

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I wonder if it would be possible to look at the rust as an opportunity? If I got the car for the right price I could get to work on it, it drives me nuts to see the TV shows where they restore cars that look brand new.

I did a bit of searching last night and it looks like fibreglass fenders and running boards are about 1 grand per side for new replacements including welting, etc. I couldn't find steel fenders so links to them would be appreciated if they exist. What has me puzzled is the orange coming through all over the place, it looks like Bondo glazing putting or something but would somebody put that over the whole car? A true no body filler restoration probably would not be the sensible approach on this car. It would be better to patch it up as close to the contour as possible and build up the rest with a good fibreglass filler.

The owner also indicated that the glass is going bad so that would need to be changed at some point too but atleast I'd know it had proper safety glass in it.

How about the fabric? Is that original? I see a big stain on the back seat but that could be covered with a blanket.

At least I have a bit of time to think about this car now, I know it won't be selling like hot cakes. The owner said it would go to be auctioned off in the spring if it doesn't move.

Cheers, Steve

I've never seen steel replacement fenders or other large body pieces for that era Mopar. There are a few people making small patch panels for this or that but basically to do it "right" you'll need to repair what is there. Maybe its me, but fiberglass fenders just don't look right from anything but a long, long distance. I agree with Taylormade regarding the likelyhood of finding more issues under that paint that will take a bunch hours of skilled metal work.

Regarding the interior, the door panels look about right to me (don't know the Dodge pattern that well) but the seats do not look anywhere as nicely done as I'd expect the factory did them. Again, to do it right you'll probably need to replace the interior.

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I will always lean toward getting a car back on the road, hopefully as original as possible. Fiberglass fenders are certainly an option, especially if this is just going to be a fun driver, but be sure to keep the original fenders and running boards in a safe, dry place in case you want to do a restoration in the future.

Fiberglass repairs alone just aren't going to cut it with this car. This isn't rust like you find in the lower fenders of 50s cars. The body area you are addressing is a structural part of the car. Plus, fiberglassing over rust isn't going to stop the cancer. In a few years you're going to be dealing with the same rust bubbling out all over the repaired areas. Even if you finish with fiberglass, you are going to have to cut out ALL the rusted areas and patch them with metal. If you don't, the repair will be temporary and lead to big problems down the line - the type of problem you're seeing in the pictures. To compound the problem, the cost in time, materials, and most of all, paint is going to be almost as expensive as doing it right.

Buy a welder, get some sheet metal and go to work. It's fun and very satisfying. Even if your work isn't all that smooth and professional, the new body fillers work well, last, and are easy to work with. Much better than fiberglass.

Of course, you could just get it in excellent and safe running and driving condition, throw blankets over the seats and drive the heck out of it as is.

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The interior was usually done in Broadcloth or Leather and it looks as though this was covered over at some stage. Even the pattern on the doors doesn't look right so it may have had a complete change in the interior.

Just looking at the photos again, The 18th photo with the large rust hole in in the valance panel that sits between the body and the running board. With the photo, it looks to have some sort of ripple effect on the panel. this panel should be smooth so I'm wondering why this panel is like this. it almost looks to have a hammered finish.

I agree with the other guys that fibreglass panels / repairs really don't look the part and besides, when have you ever bought an aftermarket panel and it fits perfectly. Buy the time you spent the money the proper repairs could have been done on the existing panels unless as the other guys said it's too far gone.

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Ian, I think that ripple effect is deep rust pits that have been painted over. This is what leads me to believe this car has more rust than what might be apparent from a casual glance.

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Just had a look at your new pictures Steve. The motor has been rebuilt or replaced with a rebuilt unit. See picture 5 - that blue circular medallion on the block is the remanufacturer's badge. Ontario Reman perhaps - a professional shop. That may not be bad news as it looks like a correct block for '34. (I had '34 Chrysler & Desoto Airflows in my past). Trying to recall if this car had engine splash panels around it - there aren't any in the picture. Regarding the upholstery, what you are looking at is a set of slip on seat covers. The original upholstery is likely underneath. It may be really nice or really bad and you won't know until you can get them off. The door upholstery looks about right and if the seats are in comparable condition, you may be all right. I'll go with the other comments by ply33, Ian and Taylormade. Not a perfect car by any means but there's not much missing. At the right price, a good place to start if you're handy at all.

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Hi Jim:

The badge info may make sense. I have the name of the re-builder written down in a book at work and I was informed that he was "known". I was under the impression that it was an individual as opposed to a company but I've asked for a better photo of that badge which I hope they have.

I am currently doing a parts budget to see if I can figure out how much it would take to make the car a little more presentable plus do all the safety items. What I've tallied up so far isn't that bad, it is the labour on the body work that is going to be killer. There are companies that do make some of the contoured parts like the rocker panels so I will check with them to see if they can make more items that are not listed. It would be a lot easier to get a "firm" price on the body work if I already possessed all of the contoured patch panels.

Steve

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