Curbside Classic: 1949 Dodge Special De Luxe – What the Plodge?!

(first posted 10/22/2011)  So probably the first thing to get out of the way is just what exactly a Plodge is. It is, like the name suggests, the combination of a Plymouth and a Dodge. These hybrids were the result of the unique Canadian market conditions (as well as a few export markets) of the time. Canadian protectionist import policies made it very expensive to import car production from the US so almost all low to medium priced makes had Canadian production.

Oddly enough any Plodges produced for other export markets were built in the US not Canada. Having Dodge and Plymouth both share the majority of mechanical components, sheet metal and often complete cars offered substantial cost savings in the small Canadian market. Thus both Dodge-Desoto and Chrysler-Plymouth dealers were able to offer a full range of vehicles. The Plodge name was never officially used but is informally used by enthusiasts to identify their Canadian mutts.

Generally but not always, a Plodge was more Plymouth than Dodge but used Dodge grilles, tail lights, trim and often Dodge interiors. Plymouth made a better starting point than Dodge as it was a smaller, cheaper car which Canadian buyers generally favored. It should be noted that at the top of the Dodge range was a American Dodge based car which was generally offered in the 30s and 40s but still built in Canada. Uptake was usually in the less than ten percent range with the vast majority being Plodges.

Our subject is a Canadian built 1949 Dodge Special De Luxe. This one is a Dodge D25, which would be an early 1949 that uses the 1946-1948 Plymouth P15 body shell. In Canada, the company built the older style cars at the same time as the new 1949 style cars for three months. Obviously differences between the US and Canadian Dodge are the front fenders ending at the door and less flat front end on the Canadian one. Less obvious is that the US one rides on a slightly longer wheelbase. The rear end is almost all Plymouth with exception of Dodge badge.

Dodge and Plymouths of this era aren’t known for being beautiful or having high performance but they are known for rugged reliability and high quality construction. A lot of this reputation comes from the use of a flat head six cylinder engine. Already an old design by 1949 it was a low speed, torque rich engine which lead a relatively unstressed and long life.

Almost all the Chrysler vehicles of the era used a variant of this engine although the larger trucks used another, larger flat head six. The flat head six engine dates back to 1929 but lived to 1959 in cars and 1968 in trucks. That didn’t end its life as it was used as late as 1972 as an industrial engine. The Plodges of this era used the slightly smaller Plymouth 3.6 liter version with 95hp. And the one illustrated above has been modified, and undoubtedly makes quite a bit more power than that.

Back in 1948 (1949 figures are for the newer style) a Special De Luxe two door sedan it would have cost $1,491 and weighed 3,135lbs. This Special De Luxe looked to be a very nicely preserved example or possibly an older restoration. A few bits of peeling paint and some blankets on the seats but overall in very nice condition. Something you could have pride in but also have no fear in using at the same time. Being quite robust and simple cars these would make an ideal vintage car to own.