(first posted 2/9/2012) We’ve discussed the topic a few times here before, but the biggest single reason compacts didn’t “take” in the early-mid fifties is because full-size cars weren’t all that big. With their 115″ or so wheelbases, they closely approximated the mid-sized cars that (re)appeared in the early-mid sixties. But Plymouth fielded an even smaller car, the 111″ wheelbase P17/P19, along with the 118.5″ “regular” cars when it introduced its new post war line in 1949. That’s pretty solidly in compact territory; its overall length of 186″ is all of two inches more than the 1960 Valiant. Compact indeed.
This is the 1950 version, shot by bobloblaw at the Cohort. From the cowl forward, the two share sheet metal. But the rest of the body is unique to the short-wheelbase cars, with a humped back not unlike a Volvo PV444/544. No four doors in the short length, but the pioneering all-steel wagon did sit on this chassis. Either way, the rugged side-valve 217.8 inch six powered them. Which does make me wonder about the dual exhausts on this example.