20 years ago I made the decision to step into a hobby I knew nothing about. A co-worker was talking about this WWII era car that he had seen in his neighbor’s garage when he was a kid. This 1942 Dodge was now it was going to hit the papers next Sunday. Throughout the week we talked about the rarity of the car and by the end of the week I wanted to save it from being street rodded. We went out on Saturday and Ann & I purchased the car that day. I bought a shop manual and slowly started to bring the car back to life. Although there have been some real challenges, I never expected to have the enjoyment and unique experiences that I have had. Keep \’em Rolling.
That is the short story of the ups and downs with the purchase of the 1942 Dodge Deluxe 4 Door Sedan.
The previously owner purchased the car from the local banker back in February of 1954. He owned the local gas Station in a small town in Nebraska and he was also the mechanic. He had done the service work on the car for the previous year after the banker purchased the car. It is believed the car may have been a staff car at the Mead Amory prior. The previous owner passed away in 1965 and the family parked the car inside the garage and covered it with a plastic tarp. In March of 1957 the service stickers indicated there were 9,627 miles on the car. By 1962 there was 24,831 miles on the car and 30,567 when it was parked in 1965. Roughly 2,700 miles per year.
The day I looked at the car it was raining with a periodic snow flake. The plastic tarp used to protect the car actually stuck to the paint and pealed it mostly on the roof and trunk where it had more surface contact.
The car was mostly complete however the fenders all had serious rubs from the narrow garage door and the front fenders were dished down from people sitting on them. The interior was pretty dirty with seat covers on the front and back seats. The back seat cover had a sizable hole from something sitting on the seat for a long time.
Day one I did a major clean-up to see what I bought. I wanted to test all the windows and within minutes I broke the window crank on the rear window.
After some cussing at myself I moved on to other things. While cleaning the dash I became curious what was in the ashtray. While trying to figure out how it opens I managed to break the face plate of the ashtray and after more cussing, I began to learned Patience that day. A view of the cleaned up car can be seen on You Tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28tEnpziJtM
With the help of a shop manual and new acquaintances, I redid the brakes, replaced the ignition parts and flushed and filled the cooling and installed new hoses and belts. I had the fuel tank flushed and lined and I unclogged the fuel lines, replaced the fuel pump, and I replaced all the lubricants and the car was ready to start.
I put a couple of gallons of gas in the tank and began to attempt to fire her up. There are certain things that are obvious when you know what you are doing but in the newbie world, nothing is obvious. I spent my summer charging my battery and then draining it through efforts of starting. It would come close but it would not quite go. I have my video camera rolling every time hoping to catch the big moment. Family and friends would gather and watch, and eventually help push the car back into the garage. This went on all summer with the same results. Sometimes I claim I could have been arrested for starter abuse. By the end of the summer someone suggested a squirt of ether and I was ready to try anything. With fire extinguishers by my side and no audience anymore, I gave it a squirt and it fired right up. The vacuum wipers sprung to life as smokey exhaust mixed with mouse nest remnants, belched out the tail pipe and muffler. A summary of the starting attempts leading to success can be found on You Tube with appropriately bad music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YSo8Y77yuI&t=305s
After verifying the car would drive it was time to take it to the next level of completion. After locating NOS fenders, I dis-assembled the car and had it stripped and repainted.
I replaced the wiring and muffler, tires, windshield and weather stripping. Bumpers, light bezels and the hood ornament were re-chromed. Replacing the wiring required removal of the headliners so I ordered a headliner and installed it myself. The rest of the interior was in decent condition and I felt keeping it original was more important than replacing it.
The restoration isn\’t perfect but it is presentable.