1930 Plymouth: Built to battle Ford, Chevy

Farm Forum

In the late 1920s, Walter P. Chrysler was growing weary of watching Ford and Chevrolet dominate the low-priced automobile market. He decided to compete with a line of affordable cars named Plymouth. The inexpensive competitor to Ford and Chevrolet debuted July 28, 1928 priced at $675.

The new Plymouth was a sales success and by 1930, despite the Great Depression, Plymouth sales were soaring. A 2,280-pound two-door sport roadster, one of 2,884 such roadsters manufactured sold for a base price of $610. A total of 76,950 were built from April 8, 1930 until June 8, 1931. Each one of the 14-foot, 1-inch-long cars rode on a 109-inch wheelbase.

“I’ve always liked cars,” Chris Lutz admits.

In April, 2011, he learned of a 1930 Plymouth roadster for sale in Pennsylvania. He went to see the old Plymouth and was surprised to find it was in great condition. He trailered the Plymouth to his home in Virginia.

Researching the history of the Plymouth revealed only sketchy information. Lutz discovered that his car had been sold new in Vermont near the New York border.

Beneath the engine hood, ventilated with 30 louvers on each side, is an inline four-cylinder 196-cubic-inch engine that developed 48 horsepower. Fuel from the 12-gallon gasoline tank is fed to the engine via a Carter updraft carburetor.

Lutz prefers leisurely open-air driving with the optional chrome plated windshield frame in the lowered position. He explains that the car doesn’t go fast enough for the onrushing air to hinder his vision with the windshield lowered. There’s only one vacuum-powered wiper to clear the view for the driver.

Lutz rarely raises the top on his car. It is all there, he says, including the rear glass window and wooden bows. He even has the side curtains just in case he gets caught in the rain. Occupants of the car are somewhat protected from the elements by the pair of wing vent windows.

Like all Chrysler products, this one is equipped with hydraulic brakes. The cooling system has a 3.4-gallon capacity. At the rear of the car, beneath the rumble seat, is the 4.75×18-inch spare tire mounted between the two parts of the split rear bumper. All five tires on the Plymouth are mounted on 36-spoke wire wheels. The wheels are painted vermilion green while the body is painted a sand color. The fenders are painted a dark green. The graceful lines of the Plymouth are highlighted with white pin-striping and the interior of the car is covered in green upholstery.

This Plymouth is well equipped not only with a gauge on the gasoline tank but also with two tail/brake lights. A pair of rubber-clad steps lead passengers up the right rear fender for access to the cozy rumble seat.

From the driver’s point of view there is a three-spoke steering wheel with two levers near the centrally located horn button. Those levers operate the headlights and cowl lights. Lutz surmises the top speed of his Plymouth is, “Maybe 50.”

Sprouting from the floor next to the floor starter pedal is the emergency brake and three-speed shift lever. There is no synchromesh he explains. The odometer now has recorded 64,678 miles, which Lutz has no reason to believe is false.

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