Curbside Classic: 1941 Dodge Business Coupe – Dodge Gives America The Business

Even though I am retired, I frequently find myself crossing the state for non-income producing reasons.  Now I carry a camera.  I was minding my own business doing just that when I came across this little attention grabber.  There is some commonality, at least of features, between this and the ’48 Windsor we just covered.  These coupes have always been favorites of mine despite having too many wheels.  Just honest workhorses.

I know some of you will double check to see if it is a 1941.  I knew right away that it was most probably from 1941-1946.  The grill and the trim on the headlights make it a 1941.  It sort of feels like a copy of the Chevy.

Business coupes have been around at least since the Model A.  Most car companies produced them.  They were designed specifically for the salesman who had to go on the road.  Before the internet and before television, salesmen went on the road.  Still do actually but back then most of them did not fly.

Dodges were totally redone for 1939, the make’s 25th anniversary.  The usual full line of vehicles, including sedans, club coupes, a woodie station wagon-and of course, the business coupe-were available.  All models had an 87 horsepower L-head straight six engine with “Floating Power” – a fancy term for rubber engine mounts.

1941s were pretty much the same car, but they did get some new trim and a wider grille.

One interesting thing: the ’41 Dodge appears to be the first car with the headlights integrated into the grille, something that would be all the rage in 15-20 years.

Now that is a long rear deck.  When I was a boy these coupes were all over the place.  In Business Coupes, the manufacturer normally only installed one seat.  There might be a flat board behind the driver and some owners who needed it would install their own seats in the back.  Obviously no hassle with seat belts, etc.  The trunk was the distinguishing factor in my memory.

Just in case the size of the trunk didn’t come across.  Thanks again Google.  There are other types of coupes but the business coupe had a rear end that stuck out forever.  Like the Sedan Delivery, the early ones had a half ton frame.  It had to be heavy duty to tote that trunk when it was full.

One more look at the trunk, this time showing all that space.  Let us move away from the rear end.

I couldn’t get a good view of the dashboard or the interior.  It’s obvious that there is an absence of southern hospitality or that this owner has had his fill of curious miscreants.  Whatever the reason, the writing on the window meant I wasn’t going to try the handle.

One thing that the car tells you very clearly is that it has the Fluid Drive.

I did manage to find an image of the early Dodge Fluid Drive, as seen in the cutaway drawing below.

Even I can see some very basic differences between this and a TH 350 or another of a later era.  I will leave the explanation to commenters with more expertise than I.  Despite memories I have of having driven them, that would be most anyone.

At that point in time the available engine for this car was the “floating” flathead six.  Since I could not open the hood, this is (once again) courtesy of Google images.  I always get a kick out of these old things with the oil bath air cleaner etc.  This would have looked just as “at home” in the engine bay of the 1940 International half ton that I once owned.

I remember seeing one of these around town while I was growing up that had been converted into a pickup.  It was a natural.  By the time the shoebox Chevs came around the coupe was one of the lightest setups if you wanted to go drag racing.  In these earlier times the job of the business coupe was to keep America working, not win drag races.  Below is a sample of a Chevy with the pickup treatment.  It’s a factory treatment.  The bed was removable and you could replace it with a trunk lid.

What I didn’t know was that Dodge also did what you see below.  I am unsure if it was released to the American market or not [ED: I think this is an Australian market “ute”].  I am sure it preceded the Ranchero (1957).  I also remember seeing a Hudson that looked like this from the forties.  I don’t have a clue who was actually first.

I guess the SUV and the Mini Van fill those needs today.  I can only think of one Sedan delivery and no business coupes built since the early sixties for the American market.  Perhaps you can think of more.  The big question is whether either are needed and/or missed by anyone.

It’s your soapbox.