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Looking at a '39 Plymouth for sale, would welcome some advice.


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Morning all

So barring anything going wrong when getting the car inspected next weekend, I'm hoping to bring this black beauty home. As someone whose experieince is mainly with cars from 55-70, could anyone offer any advice for what to look out for when I go have a deep look at this car to make sure I don't end up with a lemon? I added some pics for getting a look at it's condition.

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1 minute ago, keiser31 said:

Mostly make certain the numbers on the car match the numbers on the title. VERY cool car! First year for the column shift Plymouth.

I did get what passed for a VIN from the owner that was from the ownership that they had with the province. Where on the body would these numbers be to verify? (I don't expect they're lying, more better safe then sorry)

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Boy that interior looks great and almost looks original.  Lucky find.  Would love to find one that looks this good and especially in that color combo.  

Mopars are pretty good.  Just make sure the oil pressure is good,  Steering isn't worn out, and it doesn't overheat.  The usual stuff.  I always look for rust in the floors doors and front of the quarters as well as the trunk.  Looks like a really clean example.   I wouldn't rule it out if it has any mechanical problems just adjust the price accordingly.   

One thing I will say is that they will run with the engine in an advanced state of wear and seem to run pretty good until they need everything,  so just be sure it seems really good mechanically if that's a concern because doesn't run very well can lead to a full rebuild.  Done it already a few times. 36 plymouth, 48 Plymouth and 36 Chrysler.  All needed internal engine work, ran fairly well when I bought them but developed issues from sitting after I started using them.  Good thing is most parts are pretty cheap and readily available.  Now if this has been regularly used,  you should be in good shape.

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2 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

Boy that interior looks great and almost looks original.  Lucky find.  Would love to find one that looks this good and especially in that color combo.  

Mopars are pretty good.  Just make sure the oil pressure is good,  Steering isn't worn out, and it doesn't overheat.  The usual stuff.  I always look for rust in the floors doors and front of the quarters as well as the trunk.  Looks like a really clean example.   I wouldn't rule it out if it has any mechanical problems just adjust the price accordingly.   

One thing I will say is that they will run with the engine in an advanced state of wear and seem to run pretty good until they need everything,  so just be sure it seems really good mechanically if that's a concern because doesn't run very well can lead to a full rebuild.  Done it already a few times. 36 plymouth, 48 Plymouth and 36 Chrysler.  All needed internal engine work, ran fairly well when I bought them but developed issues from sitting after I started using them.  Good thing is most parts are pretty cheap and readily available.  Now if this has been regularly used,  you should be in good shape.

Ya the interior was what really caught my eye. Like there's a few creases but there's no tears or damage and holy crap it's like sitting on a cloud. 

 

Ya we took it for a drive and it was pretty smooth ride. The sound reminded me a bit of a dump truck, but I mean the engine is tech from pre WWII so I wasn't surprised. Had a nice throaty sound but not like crazy loud. According to the guy that's selling it he usually drives it every weekend up to the cottage so about six hours at least every week during the summer so I'd say it gets a bit of use. Regarding overheating, he mentioned something about replacing the core of the radiator when he bought it due to the original being rotten, but the gauges happily sat where it was supposed too. The only things that caught my eye were the fuel gauge wasn't all that percise, and the radio couldn't get a station to save it's life (which I'm not surprised about.)

Will have a look for rust in the spots mentioned when it's up on the hoist, as trying to look under sitting on the driveway is not easy. Too used to Jeeps :D One dumb question; this one didn't have a trunk? Like it's got the rumble seat and that's it? That being said no rust that I could see there, looked pretty decent. 

 

 

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Just now, auburnseeker said:

On second thought it's a total piece of crap and just send me the address.  I'll save you from getting involved in the whole mess. ;) 

Ontario is not too far away. 

 

Good luck.  Let us know how you make out.  

I love 30's -40's Convertibles. 

Will do. I actually wasnt' thinking of getting something this old (I'm more a 50-70's guy), but my thought was "you see that era all the time in shows and shit. When was the last time you see one of these?"

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If it's got a rumble any rust would be at the tail pan, usually.  They drain down inside on the floor in the back and run out two little drains, tubes stamped in the sheetmetal.  (one really bad design). My otherwise rust free 36 Chrysler convertible with rumbleseat had a rusty tail pan from the drains but not a lick of rust anywhere else and I had the whole interior out.  I wouldn't walk on that alone,  just be sure you can live with it. 

The tank gauge for gas may just be not working properly.  I think you can get if nothing else a generic replacement that may work,  or you may be able to take the sending unit apart and fix it.  Depends on condition of internals. 

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11 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

If it's got a rumble any rust would be at the tail pan, usually.  They drain down inside on the floor in the back and run out two little drains, tubes stamped in the sheetmetal.  (one really bad design). My otherwise rust free 36 Chrysler convertible with rumbleseat had a rusty tail pan from the drains but not a lick of rust anywhere else and I had the whole interior out.  I wouldn't walk on that alone,  just be sure you can live with it. 

The tank gauge for gas may just be not working properly.  I think you can get if nothing else a generic replacement that may work,  or you may be able to take the sending unit apart and fix it.  Depends on condition of internals. 

Good point. I would guess it's just something with the gauge itself. Either that or something in the tank, which sounds more expensive. Either way, it's not a fatal flaw. Worse comes to worse, just make sure to refill every five hundred kms or so :)

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Actually the tank gauge is usually not a big deal as I think Chrysler products had an access from the trunk down to get to them.  Of course yours may be under the rumble cushion.  Usually it's not the dash gauge and honestly with the old wiring,  it's almost easier to deal with the tank gauge than to get the dash gauge out and back in without disturbing a bunch of stuff under the dash.  The radio you can get a (ready rad) for.  I think that's how it's spelled.  It plugs into the antennae port on the radio and lets you play a modern feed through the radio,  like an ipod or portable CD player or something like that.  Had one in my 48 Plymouth.  Worked great until the radio crapped out.   No fault of the ready rad.  Also you have to make sure the antennae is fully extended to get anything and even that is spotty since it's AM.  Should be able to pick up a sports station or church station to see if it works. 

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3 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

Actually the tank gauge is usually not a big deal as I think Chrysler products had an access from the trunk down to get to them.  Of course yours may be under the rumble cushion.  Usually it's not the dash gauge and honestly with the old wiring,  it's almost easier to deal with the tank gauge than to get the dash gauge out and back in without disturbing a bunch of stuff under the dash.  The radio you can get a (ready rad) for.  I think that's how it's spelled.  It plugs into the antennae port on the radio and lets you play a modern feed through the radio,  like an ipod or portable CD player or something like that.  Had one in my 48 Plymouth.  Worked great until the radio crapped out.   No fault of the ready rad.  Also you have to make sure the antennae is fully extended to get anything and even that is spotty since it's AM.  Should be able to pick up a sports station or church station to see if it works. 

Regarding the radio it's not something that's immediately on my plans, but what I might look at is to get a bluetooth receiver that I can plug in somehow. I don that with my Jeep with the phone, and figured if that's possible it'd be pretty awesome.

 

Good info on the gas gauge. Might be a good winter project!

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1 hour ago, auburnseeker said:

It's taking back seat to my latest toy.  

image.jpeg.0b9a81241c8619512f99d48f8713eaf8.jpeg

 

That looks quite cosy. One reason why I went for a convertible over a coupe was I found the convertible to be roomier. The coupes I always find claustrophobic for some reason.

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1 hour ago, keiser31 said:

I am SO jealous of you two. Both of those cars are on my bucket list!

These are the old photos. Couple of weeks ago.   I have been wet sanding and buffing and boy she is really starting to sparkle, even with the paint crazed and lifting is some spots.  Amazing how many years of sins you can rub away with some elbow grease.  I'll have to post some fresh photos. 

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1 hour ago, canadiancreed said:

That looks quite cosy. One reason why I went for a convertible over a coupe was I found the convertible to be roomier. The coupes I always find claustrophobic for some reason.

Actually though the low roof, it's quite roomy as far as leg room.  That seat really goes back quite a ways.  I'm 6 foot 1 and it's quite comfortable.  

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Just now, auburnseeker said:

Actually though the low roof, it's quite roomy as far as leg room.  That seat really goes back quite a ways.  I'm 6 foot 1 and it's quite comfortable.  

Oh nice. I figured I'd have the same problem sitting in the car I mentioned above but outside of the window being a bit low it worked out ok. I wouldn't want to do a cross country trip like that, but a few hours is more then doable. Much roomier then say a first gen stang or a vette 

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4 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

These are the old photos. Couple of weeks ago.   I have been wet sanding and buffing and boy she is really starting to sparkle, even with the paint crazed and lifting is some spots.  Amazing how many years of sins you can rub away with some elbow grease.  I'll have to post some fresh photos. 

And here I was thinking that it looked great already. Was the imperfections noticeable only up close?

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There were alot of imperfections from scratches,  to brake fluid spilled down the fender.  All kinds of stuff.  Once you cut it and buff it though.  It flattens everything out and gives it a really high gloss shine.  No different than if it had been carefully hand polished for years. The paint thickness will be about the same as a lovingly cared for car when Im done. 

 

You would be surprised How bad a paint job can look, that you can bring to a near show quality job with just a wet sand and buff. 

Here is the roof of my 48 Autocar.  As you can see look at the finish on the right that I sanded and buffed out compared to the left.  

image.jpeg.12e8333ad1a825a4f5d83d0aab595cd3.jpeg

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4 minutes ago, keiser31 said:

I DO love it. I really love the look of yours, too with the lower roof line.

Yeah that kind of hooks you.  For a low price car it has alot of eye appeal.  You compare it to a Ford or Chevy and it really has a longer lower sleeker look.  Glad they made the Mid year change from the PC.  The PD nose really makes the car. Never understood the difference until i bought one. 

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29 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

There were alot of imperfections from scratches,  to brake fluid spilled down the fender.  All kinds of stuff.  Once you cut it and buff it though.  It flattens everything out and gives it a really high gloss shine.  No different than if it had been carefully hand polished for years. The paint thickness will be about the same as a lovingly cared for car when Im done. 

 

You would be surprised How bad a paint job can look, that you can bring to a near show quality job with just a wet sand and buff. 

Here is the roof of my 48 Autocar.  As you can see look at the finish on the right that I sanded and buffed out compared to the left.  

image.jpeg.12e8333ad1a825a4f5d83d0aab595cd3.jpeg

Now that is quite the difference. I know on the one I'm looking at, there were one or two spots where the paint looked thin (the seller mentioned them so nothing devious.). Not being a body guy, I sense that I wouldn't be able to tell unless I actually polished it up myself, which for that old of paint I have no idea what would work, and what would probably strip the paint off :D

 

Also is the Autocar you refer too like this?

31afdfeada6cb40f00c57b473f904ea2.jpg

Because if so nicely done. Was commenting about commercial vehicles in another thread. They're damn hard to find.

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Well it's not quite that nice but I'm playing with it.

If you get the plymouth,  let me know and we can figure out the best thing to do with the paint.  If it's really just worn thin,  not much you can do without painting a spot.  Other things though can be corrected. 

 image.jpeg.02f25dcb05ce4bca4b274d5c99dc4ad8.jpeg

IMG_3740.JPG

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31 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

Well it's not quite that nice but I'm playing with it.

If you get the plymouth,  let me know and we can figure out the best thing to do with the paint.  If it's really just worn thin,  not much you can do without painting a spot.  Other things though can be corrected. 

 image.jpeg.02f25dcb05ce4bca4b274d5c99dc4ad8.jpeg

IMG_3740.JPG

Now that's a nice truck. back in the day when I could afford a house with a bit of a yard, I had an end game of getting a truck and a three car carrier, so I could roll into shows like I was delivering cars to the dealer. Oddly enouhg I feel more comfertable driving a ten speed then a three on the tree :D

And sounds good. I wish I had gotten a picture of it, it's one of those you don't notice it until you're right on top of it marks. Some minor stone chips as well but like really minor. The slight pits on the chrome are more what I'd want to address first.

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6 hours ago, canadiancreed said:

I did get what passed for a VIN from the owner that was from the ownership that they had with the province. Where on the body would these numbers be to verify? (I don't expect they're lying, more better safe then sorry)

Serial number should be on the passenger door hinge post (same as on your '33 Plymouth coupe). Engine number is on the block above the generator, same as your '33 Plymouth. On the '33 the original engine number is stamped on the driver side frame rail between the running board supports. For the post war P15 Plymouths is is apparently on the kick up over the rear axle. I am guessing it would be someplace on like that on the '39.

 

Mechanically most things will be relatively easy to find. If your '33 and this '39 have their original engines then they share pistons, bearings, etc. The cranks and rods are different because the factory stroked it in '34. Block will look different because they widened it in '35 for the full length water jacket and water distribution tube. Other than the head gasket, the rest of the engine gaskets are the same between '33 and '39.

 

Take a good, long, critical look at all the trim pieces: Those will be the most difficult to find replacements for.

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Sorry for the crappy inside photos.  No way to get far enough away to get a good shot.    I also need to hand buff it still with a swirl remover which will get rid of the fine scratch marks from the previous buffing process after sanding with 1500 grit paper.   I use Mother's mag and aluminum polish.  Does an amazing job and available at most parts stores and even hardware stores for around 10 bucks for the bigger can.   Nice thing is you can use it on your chrome and stainless as well. 

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1 hour ago, auburnseeker said:

Sorry for the crappy inside photos.  No way to get far enough away to get a good shot.    I also need to hand buff it still with a swirl remover which will get rid of the fine scratch marks from the previous buffing process after sanding with 1500 grit paper.   I use Mother's mag and aluminum polish.  Does an amazing job and available at most parts stores and even hardware stores for around 10 bucks for the bigger can.   Nice thing is you can use it on your chrome and stainless as well. 

Oh nice that answers what to use to polish the exterior. With previous cars I usually used turtle wax on the outside and armor all on the inside, but they were modern cars. 

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2 hours ago, ply33 said:

Serial number should be on the passenger door hinge post (same as on your '33 Plymouth coupe). Engine number is on the block above the generator, same as your '33 Plymouth. On the '33 the original engine number is stamped on the driver side frame rail between the running board supports. For the post war P15 Plymouths is is apparently on the kick up over the rear axle. I am guessing it would be someplace on like that on the '39.

 

Mechanically most things will be relatively easy to find. If your '33 and this '39 have their original engines then they share pistons, bearings, etc. The cranks and rods are different because the factory stroked it in '34. Block will look different because they widened it in '35 for the full length water jacket and water distribution tube. Other than the head gasket, the rest of the engine gaskets are the same between '33 and '39.

 

Take a good, long, critical look at all the trim pieces: Those will be the most difficult to find replacements for.

Defintiely agree on the trim. The car seem to have not a lot of trim, but what it did looked original. In hindsight wish I had taken closer pioctures of the interior and trim to make sure it's how they looked on other cars.

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Actually I only use the Mother's for major polishing as it actually does remove a thin layer of the finish,  which is what polishing with any polish does.  Once I have a nice finish, which this one will be followed up with Adams Polishes swirl remover (just a finer polish) I like to use something like Meguiars show car glaze.  I have also used another adams H2O spray and wipe wax,  Which seems to last pretty well and goes on fairly easy and quick.  Lots of top coat options but the polishes work good for the dirty work.  Most of my work I do by hand because of the spray and spatter of a machine. 

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For interiors I like Meguiars Vinyl and Leather cleaner and Protectant (all in one) seems to work pretty good.  That's what I used on my running boards on the Plymouth.  Whitewalls I use Bleach white for serious cleaning (usually only ned to do that once a season or so,  depending on use) but in between I use that same rubber and vinyl cleaner / protectant. 

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4 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

For interiors I like Meguiars Vinyl and Leather cleaner and Protectant (all in one) seems to work pretty good.  That's what I used on my running boards on the Plymouth.  Whitewalls I use Bleach white for serious cleaning (usually only ned to do that once a season or so,  depending on use) but in between I use that same rubber and vinyl cleaner / protectant. 

That actually answered how the heck you keep whitewalls looking clean, so thanks for sharing!

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Others will have suggestions as well.  It's not the only product,  just one I have found that works.   Some say the new Bleech white isn't as good as the old stuff,  but I'm still working out of the old bottle i have had for quite some time. I bought a gallon and refill the smaller bottle.  As you can see I haven't touched the whitewalls on the Plymouth yet. 

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