Beneath the taillights was an indented panel running the full width of the car. One-tone Belvederes or those with contrasting color only on the roof had a single long spear running the full length of the car, ending in a chrome wing. In 1958 and 1959, Chrysler Australia imported the Plymouth Belvedere hardtop, the Dodge Custom Royal sedan, and the De Soto Firesweep sedan. Unlike the six, only three rings were fitted to each piston. With the introduction of V-8 power, Plymouth found it necessary to use two model designations; 6-cylinder cars were coded P26, V-8 cars P27. A friend who was around at that time told me that, in 1955, the perception was that Chrysler quality took another dip, despite the very attractive new styling.
Styling changes included a flat hood from fender to fender, and more pronounced tail fins tacked on the rear. Not only did Exner pull it off, but he may have even overshot by a year. This uniquely optioned Plymouth is a rare find and would be a great addition to any Mopar enthusiasts garage. Full dress trim for Belvedere and Savoy club sedans, four-door Suburbans, and four-door sedans consisted of exterior windshield visor trim, front door trim, a lower quarter panel medallion, and an extra-wide drip molding. The range included a four-door sedan, a two-door hardtop, a convertible, and oddly, a two-door Suburban station wagon.
This is much better looking and practical. They could only be described as a sales success. Still, the 230 cid six was upped to 117 horsepower. The car had a nice shape, but the two-tone configuration was poorly conceived. Low, long cars were hot.
Chevrolet and Ford also introduced all new models for 1955, the new Chevys making their appearance October 28. This made it difficult for Plymouth to compete in price with and , but did allow them to claim the roomiest wagon in the low-priced field. The Airtemp system mounted the condenser and compressor under the hood, the receiver under the floor of the car, and the evaporator beneath the package shelf in the trunk. Station wagon sales had risen to nearly 10% of production. But the poly 318 labored on until 1967. Despite the convertible's weight disadvantage due to its header frame it still outperformed the sedan. The fins were now restricted to a sharp upward curve further back on the rear fenders.
Optional features included twin racing stripes. With the cars shown, Chrysler stock took a sudden 5% jump in value in mid-1954. Newly available were several dealer- or owner-installed seat belt packages. They set the rear leaf springs outboard of the new U-channel frame, lengthening them a half inch and increasing them to a width of two inches. Keller gets a bum rap as this crass bum with no education who was good with the wrenches, but that is actually far from true.
Chevrolet had introduced the fully automatic Powerglide transmission in 1950, and Plymouth was attempting to catch up. It had a small bore hemi and was quite a car. . For reasons unknown, the Belvedere still the top of the line became either a P26-2 or P27-2, while the middle Savoy series became the P26-3 or P27-3. A mid-year power package four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust increased it to 177 horsepower, though that was not part of the original plan. The car still features a lot of the original service stickers on the door jamb, so this might provide confirmation of this. Not an all out woodie, but it does have a nice amount of wood ornamentation without the maintenance.
Ironically, Keller turned out to be decades ahead of his time, but in the early fifties, longer, lower and wider is what moved the metal. Plymouth painted the top of the dashboard with a grained flat paint to avoid reflections, but would be considered ugly by more than one prospective owner. The 1956 wagon range comprised the De Luxe Suburban 2-Door, the Custom Suburban 2-Door, the Custom Suburban 4-Door and the Sport Suburban 4-Door with De Luxe Suburban, Custom Suburban and Sport Suburban models equating to the , and models respectively. Pugs were out; the longer, lower race was on, and Plymouth was left behind. They were just too short and stubby compared to the competition.
The result was decidedly middle of the field. This makes the dash look really attractive, but it does place the temperature and oil pressure gauges directly in front of the passenger, which does make it difficult for the driver to monitor. I remember climbing up over the rear door sill to the entry floor, then up another step to where the seats loomed. Work was proceeding on the new 1955 models late when, in 1952, Chrysler management decided the new 1955 Plymouth needed a V8. Is it conceivable Loewy could have gotten the beautiful but mechanically flawed 1953 Starliner built as a Chrysler product? Given the fact that this one needs no real restoration work, and could be driven and enjoyed as it is, then the price looks pretty good. Most other makes had now gone to a key-only trunk latch. These are the Polysphere V8s, an engine that tends to be a bit over-rated by its fans.
At first the Plymouth V-8 was offered in two displacements—a 241ci rated at 157hp with a bore and stroke of 3. The body design stayed basically same only receiving slight styling updates, while for the first time, small chrome tailfins appeared on the rear fenders. Live and learn, by trial and error. The products were good, sensible, comfortable, durable cars; but after two decades of austerity, with a depression followed by wartime shortages, the public wanted glittering, overstated extravagance. Electrics were still 6-volt, now protected by three sets of circuit breakers.