The Underrated Orphans from the 1940s
After the great suggestions from everyone on their favorite ’30s era orphan cars, I figured we might as well keep going forward into the next decade- The 1940s. Obviously, war interrupted new car models between 1943-1945, and the majority of ’46 and ’47 models were slightly-updated ‘hold-overs’, yet despite all this, we still have some gems to choose from in these great transitional years before the really NEW models premiered. As the ’40s progressed, fenders and running boards were now molded into the body, and cars became far more powerful and comfortable. Ford was still a dominant player, but GM came out of the war strong and introduced many designs that were more enticing than Henry’s on a given year.
Here’s a few underrated rides I find worth customizing:
1. 1941-42 Buick Special and Century Sedanette. I realize it’s hard to call Buick an ‘orphan’ necessarily, but these pre-war fastbacks were so far ahead of their time and make a nice alternative to a Chevrolet of the same year. The “valve in head” straight 8 was a great motor as well.
2. 1941 Studebaker Champion coupe. More than just the taillights were worth having on this baby. The ’41 streamline body was just an update from the year before, but it all worked together with the slanted B pillars, modern trim design and a beautiful raking profile.
3. 1947 Studebaker Champion coupe. Yes, the same car made my list twice. Although a ’47 Starlight coupe is a ‘love it or hate it’ design, the Raymond Lowey design was so radical for it’s time, almost like a factory custom. Earl Wilson’s Grecian was based on a ’47 Stude as well.
4. 1941- 48 Plymouth. There’s a lot to like from peaked grille to the low greenhouse, this short wheelbase wonder has started to really catch on in the custom world lately. Just look at Kevin Francis or Jochen’s 1941 coupe if you need inspiration. This car won’t be underrated much longer.
5. 1942 DeSoto. Weird and very rare ‘one year only’ model with hidden Airfoil headlamps. Probably a tough candidate for a custom, but I would still like to see someone try. It’s one of those cars that look mean and futuristic in an illustration, but more like an over-sized vacuum cleaner in real life. I couldn’t resist adding it to “Underrated” the list.