1940 Plymouth DeLuxe: Cute Convertible

Motor Matters

Chrysler built just under 7,000 models of the Plymouth DeLuxe convertibles in 1940. Under the two-piece hood is an inline-six-cylinder engine that generates 84 horsepower. The sporty little Plymouth convertible carried a $950 price tag. A comparable Ford convertible cost $849, while a Chevrolet ragtop would set the buyer back $898.

Barbara Griner and her husband had wanted an antique car that was fun to drive but old enough to have some style. At first glance at a 1940 Plymouth convertible, she told her husband, “That’s the one.” It wasn’t too old or too new; it was just right. It was a perfect fit then, and remains a perfect fit to this day.

When she bought the car, it was wearing one of the official eight colors offered on 1940 Plymouths: Amphibian Green. The wheel is adorned with a chrome-plated 360-degree horn ring.

Neither the speedometer in front of the driver nor the clock at the other end of the dashboard in the glove compartment door has hands to indicate speed or time. Instead, both instruments feature indicators on rotating rings, quite an innovation in 1940.

Plymouth did the unusual by offering a push-button radio in a vertical position in the chrome-laden dashboard, although the juxtaposition to the driver is very convenient. A set of 6.00x16-inch wide-white-sidewall Firestone tires supports the car, as well as provides the grip to stop. From the beginning, all Chrysler Corp. cars have been fitted with hydraulic brakes.

Soon after acquiring the car, Griner drove her Plymouth to Pennsylvania and got caught in a pouring rainstorm while the vacuum-powered windshield wipers struggled valiantly to clear the two-piece windshield. “Every place it could leak, it did,” she says.

The time had come to restore the convertible. When it was dismantled and stripped, it was discovered that the original color of the car had been Aviator Blue. That’s the color Griner opted for when it came time for repainting. The car had remarkably little rust, and only the cancerous metal floor pan had to be cut away and replaced.

Both front fenders were replaced simply because it was less expensive to do so than to straighten the original fenders that had kissed too many garage doors over the years.

Remembering her waterlogged adventure to Pennsylvania, Griner insisted on a new waterproof top carefully fitted to ensure that the interior remain snug and, more importantly, dry during a rainstorm.

During the restoration, both chrome bumpers were replated. A metal splash pan covers the gap between the body and the rear bumper. Now that her Plymouth is restored, she says, she never tires of driving her cute 1940 Plymouth convertible. The cute convertible has been a head-turner wherever Griner steers it with its shoulder-wide steering wheel.

This sporty little 1940 Plymouth convertible carried a $950 price tag. A comparable Ford convertible cost $849, while a Chevrolet ragtop would set the buyer back $898.