1946, 1947, and 1948 Plymouth P15 Deluxe and Special Deluxe: Why Restorers Love Them!
The post war American car.
The Plymouth P15 of 1946-1948 are a great choice for anyone who wants to restore, collect, or simply drive a great American car of the post war 1940’s.
First, Plymouth made a LOT of them. Automobile production in the United States had been halted in February 1942. This was due to the U.S. government’s decision to prioritize resources and manufacturing capabilities for military production during World War II. The automotive industry shifted its focus to producing military vehicles, aircraft engines, and other war-related equipment.
With the cessation of hostilities, US auto makers slowly began to transition back to making cars for a population that was eager for them. There was a TON of pent-up demand!
Plymouth was one of the first to enter the post war car market and the P15 Deluxe and Special Deluxe led the way. Between 1946 and early 1949 well over 1,000,000 P15’s were sold. Lots of them are still around for us to drive, restore and enjoy today.
What is the Plymouth P15?
The P-15 was a basic entry level car, but with plenty of the engineering innovations Chrysler Corporation was known for. A good stout flathead side valve engine with 3 ¼” bore displaced 218 cubic inches and produced about 95 horsepower. 118 lbs. of foot torque gave it plenty of low-end grunt. Sophisticated hydraulic brakes had been a Plymouth feature since 1928, and the refined independent front suspension made for best in its class ride and handling. Styling was smooth, sleek and with art deco touches that people just loved, and still do.
Today, restorable P15’s can be found for under $2,000 and solid drivers out there for under $10,000. That makes these cars a great entry level driver or project.
Parts availability is another plus. Andy Bernbaum Auto Parts in the Boston area has been the leading supplier of parts for P15’s for over 45 years, stocking loads of both reproduction and new old stock parts. New parts are being made available all the time, which makes it a golden time to restore or maintain a Plymouth P15. Whatever you need, either Bernbaum’s or one of a few other reputable specialists make it pretty easy to find what you need:
- Brakes: The 10” brake shoes, brake hoses, wheel cylinders, master cylinder, hard brake lines, brake drums and hubs, Andy Bernbaum Auto Parts has all that stuff on the shelf ready to go
- Engine: almost any moving part in the 218-flathead engine is available, in good quantity. Connecting rod, engine main bearings, pistons and piston rings, intake and exhaust valves, engine gasket set, oil filter, lifters, tappets, all that stuff is readily available.
- Suspension and steering: front coil springs, rear leaf springs, bushings, control arm rebuild kits, tie rod ends, kingpins, steering box rebuild kit, just about anything you need is available.
- Electric: Distributor cap, rotor, points and condenser, spark plugs, spark plug wires, battery cables, all that stuff, no problem.
- Weatherstripping and Glass: it’s all available and easy to find. Door weatherstripping, trunk weatherstrip, windshield and rear window weatherstrip, even the cowl vent gasket is easy. Just watch out when you order: A lot of P15 Special Deluxe models had stainless bright trim around the windshield and rear window. Deluxe models often did not. Different rubber is used based on the trim style. Make sure you mention which you have when buying.
- Pedals, knobs, relays, transmission parts, radiators, radiator hoses, thermostat, all this stuff is on the shelf and ready to ship from a good supplier like Andy Bernbaum.
Another great thing about these cars: while there are a lot of them around, they are not as often seen as the same old Ford and Chevy models….so you stand out a bit!
Of course, working on the P15 is a delight. PLENTY of room to move around under the hood, and great shop manuals and full parts catalog reprints available. Great support can also be found on a huge variety of forums and Facebook groups.
Driving the P15 is a ball. Chrysler Corporation really was a leader in technology, and it is apparent in the driving experience. We just had a customer tell us that after driving his P15 his 1948 Chevy felt like a tractor! Sorry Chev fans, but we like MoPar! No, you’re not going to cruise at 75 on the highway. The P15 top cruising speed is probably 55 or 60 mph. But it sure is a fun 55 to 60 mph! You’ll find the ride quality is almost modern, steering is smooth as is the three-speed shift action. You’re just going to love the experience.
If you’re looking for a 1940’s car that has great looks, great parts availability, accessible price point, and superior engineering the 1946, 1947 and 1948 (and even early 1949) Plymouth P15 Deluxe and Special Deluxe could be a great choice!