As Geoffrey Chaucer’s fictional pilgrims commenced their literary rendezvous at the Tabard Inn, “the yonge sonne hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,” denoting springtime and the sign of the ram–Aries. Aries encompasses the first half of April or so, and although summer is racing toward Leo, Dodge folklore is deeply rooted in the image of the ram. Dodge made an Aries, FCA still makes a Ram, and I was born April 17th. Like a History Channel special that focuses on circumstantial evidence, if I followed the clues of the last few weeks, my life would be the work of the Dodge Brothers.
The week of Dodge began as I came home to wash the road grime from the Dirty Dart’s, um, flawless flanks, and commenced writing my latest Dirty Dart entry. In the comments, Gene Herman posted a picture of his ’49 Dodge.
Its status as a “first-series” 1949 model was intriguing, and I began my traditional ritual of conceptualizing my world with another old car orbiting it; in this case, a flathead-six propelled Chrysler product from the 1940s, perhaps a big old business coupe or something, the august ancestor of the Dirty Dart, but with a little more style. Generations past wore suits on airplanes, now many of us wear pajamas to Walmart; therefore, post hoc ergo propter hoc, each generation is a little less dignified than the last. Mental note: I need to buy a suit if I plan to buy an old Chrysler.
Then, that same weekend, I saw this 1947 Dodge at the local car show. It may be a Deluxe, may be a Custom: it has two windshield wipers but no rear fender molding, so take your pick. It’s big, it’s roomy, it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s durable.
Like Steven Seagal and the later Slant Six, the Dodge 230 was hard to kill, lasting many thousands of miles and to the end of the 1959 model year. When Chrysler designs an inline-six, it designs it for all time; the old flathead was replaced by the equally long lasting slant six. Hunkered down in the engine room, surrounded by two tons of Mopar battleship, this sturdy old powerplant looks ready for action. Although one may be prompted to ditch the tiny air cleaner and modern spark plug wire boots, the fuel pressure regulator near the carburetor at least shows that this car is maintained by someone who knows a thing or two about old cars.
Ostensibly powered by the same engine was this 1950 Wayfarer, with its weird triple bumper guards and all. The most basic of Dodges, it nevertheless sold well and probably gave its owner little trouble.
Dodge often used the word “dependable” in its advertising, although the above ad presents a conflicting implication. Is the driver kidnapping these unsuspecting, obviously brainwashed passengers? That fake “little kid” smile on the driver does not bode well for the well-being of his potential quarry.
This Wayfarer doesn’t appear to be optioned with Fluid Drive, although I’ve always wanted to drive a Chrysler product equipped with that option, just to see how it works. Perhaps it’s the name, but Fluid Drive seems like it would leave drops on my driveway like my Dynaflow does. Then again, as Gene and Bryce mentioned earlier, it doesn’t leak, it marks its spot.
Finally, just yesterday, I visited Rob, my local machinist, to ask him who builds their shop’s automatic transmissions (long story, but the Mustang’s quite fresh C4 is not pumping fluid through the cooler). Sitting on a cart was the bare block of a 1937 Dodge; I believe he said it was a 218. He explained its oiling system to me and I began ruminating in my old familiar way, the same muse I muse every time I get a car on the brain: is it time to put another Dodge in my garage? Only time will tell, but I hope the feeling passes before my wallet opens.