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1946-1954 American Cars



  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,892
    edited June 2012
    And even if it is mint, a prewar style postwar 2 door sedan isn't going to be much fun, useful mostly for in-town errands or low stress country roads.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Speaking of Plymouths, I think they were better cars than Chevys in model years '46-'54. The demand for Chevys is greater, of course, but Plymouths are more rugged and durable.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    Most pre-war cars of this type can barely run on modern freeways, and they are ponderous at slow speeds. They are neither fast, nor fun, nor agile, and in most cases, not very pretty either. There are a few exceptions, like 40-41 Ford V8s, the Air Flows and of course some pre-war foreign stuff.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,581
    Years ago, one of my friends had a 1950 DeSoto Custom 4-door, which had Fluid drive and, IIRC, a flathead six that was 236.6 CID or something like that and maybe 110 hp gross?

    Now true, this is a postwar car, but I doubt that engine/performance-wise, it was much different from the '41-48 models. I rode in my friend's 50 a few times, and followed him, in my '57 Firedome, to a car show once.

    I have no idea what 0-60 would've been in it, but I remember reading that when the Firedome V-8 came out for '52, it knocked 4 seconds off the 0-60 time versus the 6, and the time I've seen listed was 17.6 seconds. So that would put the 1952 6-cyl model at around 21.6 seconds, and I'd guess the 50 was similar?

    In normal driving, as a passenger, the car seemed fine. And it also didn't seem to have any trouble keeping up with interstate speeds, maybe 70-75 mph. I'm sure it would be a bit scary though, if you had to do a high-speed merge onto a highway from a dead stop though!

    It was a nice car for loafing around, and in good shape. But admittedly, pretty dull. Not something I'd exactly clamor for. He ended up buying a '55 Fireflite Coronado, one of the earliest triple-tone models, and sold the '50 to an old guy up north of Baltimore. It was a much cooler car, with the 291 Hemi and 200 hp. But still, just a nice old 4-door sedan, and I think he really wanted something flashier.

    I think I ended up being a bad influence on this guy, because soon after I bought my '67 Catalina convertible, he got the 'vert bug really bad. But he tried to satisfy it with an '83 or so LeBaron convertible, with the 2.6 Mitsubishi 4-cyl! And after that it was one of those little Aussie Capris. Finally, he sort of found a happy medium with a '72 Corvette. Not a convertible, but it did have the removable targa panel.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,347
    I used to commute 60 miles a day in my 54 Chevy Bel Air and it kept up just fine with L.A traffic. It would easily cruise at 80 MPH without complaint.

    It was a Powerglide and I was lucky to get 14 MPG out of it.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    That's a considerably more modern car than a wheezy flathead 6 pushing a pre-war behemoth I think. If you had Powerglide, you had the 235 engine and I think higher highway gearing than the old flatheads.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,347
    Yeah, all Powerglaide Chevys had a 235 and by 1953, they all had full pressure lubrication. The last of the 216's were the 1952's with sticks.

    Old pre war Buicks were wonderful highway cruisers too and there were probably others too.

    I agree, the flathead sixs weren't really made for the freeway.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Beginning in '51 you could equip Plymouths with overdrive. Since I never rode or drove in one, I can't say how they cruised on the highway.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    if you want a 50s domestic car with adequate power and handling for modern roads you are somewhat limited. I would guess that a Hudson Hornet and maybe an Olds coupe would get you by okay. Cads are too freakin' big, Buicks are...well...Buicks...Chevies still old ladies cars....maybe the 49-51 Ford coupe would work out least it's a V8 and not such a heavy car. Kinda primitive suspension, though. The Mopars haven't quite made it to the good handling stage of the 55s on up.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    A '53 or '54 Dodge with the hemi V8 and overdrive, or a Chrysler Saratoga (hemi in a relatively small body, ala Olds 88) would probably hang in there with the Hornet and the 88, don't you think?
  • When I was 5, my Dad bought a 53 Pontiac Chieftain 2 door with a straight 8 and a stick, about the same color as the 52 Chevy at the beginning of this thread. He kept it until 59, when he traded it in on a new Catalina. I remember him taking it up to 85 a few times. My Grandpa had a 56 Star Chief hardtop, turquoise and white, that seemed like a rocket in comparison. A
    "perfect" example of THAT car would sorely tempt me, were it available. I haven't seen one with an original spec interior....
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    Nah, you'd be in the trees on the first turn I think. The Hudson was a pretty formidable car in its day---hence its great success in early NASCAR.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,347
    I believe those Hudsons held some kind of a track record for many years.

    I remember an old timer telling a story about how he was driving his new 1950 Olds 90 MPH one night when he saw headlights behind him. he figured it was a cop and he was about to get nailed so he didn't let off the gas.

    To his great surprise, he was passed by a Hudson who he guessed had to be doing well over 100 MPH.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,635
    Olds and Hudson competed in NASCAR but the overhead valve V8s finally won out.
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