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Projects Plymouth 1953 hardtop

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Moparguy_bmx, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. IMG-20171014-WA0028.jpg IMG-20171014-WA0029.jpg IMG-20171014-WA0027.jpg Just got myself this new proyect in the shop yesterday, I'll start with the metal sheet soon. It's been sitting down for more than 6 years. It has a 218 or 230 flathead six with overdrive.

    Attached Files:

  2. _justakid_
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 108


    Cool! What are the plans? Original restoration?

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  3. I want to build a nice cheap street rod, but first there's lot of metal work to do, I'll use the original flathead 6 for a while and then maybe switch to a v8 when it gets more solid.
    51 BIRD and chryslerfan55 like this.
  4. wow....little rare car there....that flat six is a good motor for it is....made all the way to 1959 in the states. My buddy had a 2x2 and header on his old Dodge that ran pretty good....think he has an extra set up.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.

  5. donno
    Joined: Feb 28, 2015
    Posts: 424


    I've allways felt the 53/54 Plymouths were overlooked and don't know why. Only recall seeing 2 of them that were modified/ semi custom. Good Luck.
    3340 and chryslerfan55 like this.
  6. Los_Control
    Joined: Oct 7, 2016
    Posts: 750

    from TX

    very nice, looking forward to seeing more.
  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 26,999

    Jalopy Joker

    Congrats - yep, do the important stuff like body work, brakes, etc - done a search for parts availability in your area?
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  8. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,580


    IF you ever part with the overdrive you might be surprised at the money they command....probably worth more than the car....
    Be sure to join up over at

    Hnstray likes this.
  9. i.rant
    Joined: Nov 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,251

    1. 1940 Ford

    I’ve heard parts are rare, good luck.
  10. I'm from Uruguay, people regard this country as the south american Cuba, but anyways people sold lots of cars worldwide in the 90s so it's gonna be hard to find parts, there are lots of 4 doors, never seen another hardtop like mine but I guess most parts of 4doors might do the job. Any information on were to buy new or used parts in the states that ship to UY are welcome.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  11. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,047

    from Quincy, IL

    The parts that are most unique to the Belvedere Hardtop (and in some cases, Convertible) are the glass and some main body panels. The entire front end assembly is the same as sedans, as are all mechanical parts and side trim, tail lights, interior parts, etc.

    I have owned a couple of these '53 Belvedere hardtops in the past and have an even rarer '53 Dodge Diplomat Hardtop. The Dodge shares a lot of the unique parts with the Plymouth, such as the aforementioned glass, doors and roof panel. In '53/'54 Plymouth and Dodge Hardtops, Convertibles and Station Wagons shared several common parts and some others that were Dodge or Plymouth only.

    For example, the front end sheet metal of a Plymouth Hardtop is the same as all other Plymouth body styles. However, the Dodge hardtop, Convt. and wagon is shorter than all other Dodge body styles and the front sheet metal
    only fits those models. The Dodge short hood is the same stamping as the Plymouth, but with minor mods.

    Best wishes with your project.

    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  12. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 7,432


    I really enjoy seeing someone tackle the less popular cars.

    There were some build picture's on the HAMB of this one.


    Ed Sloan's Barris custom is probably the best known of the lot.


    I also dig using old rodding techniques to tweak obsolete motors to keep up with traffic, such as milled head, re-ground cam, chopped flywheel, etc. (I gave the full treatment to the 216 in my '49 Chevy.)
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  13. Thanks for the information, I really appreciate it as I'll be looking for parts anytime soon, meanwhile I'm doing the metal work, tomorrow I'll upload some more photos. I'll be glad if you share some photos of the 53s you owned, In Uruguay there are some Desoto and Dodge 'diplomats' I guess that's because there were mainly export cars, is that true?.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  14. Wow those are incredible pieces of work ! I won't go that far away, just want a classic look with vintage mods maybe, I've always wanted something rare that few people would work on, I saw some 55 and 56 desoto hardtops but with this one I instantly fell in love, I actually went on looking for a 55 belvedere 354 v8 in that place but the owner has already made a deal for it so he showed me this 53' which he thought it was a 51' dodge haha, got it real cheap 300 dollars and few antiques in exchange. I haven't been thinking about the engine yet but I'll appreciate any further info on flathead six mods.
    Squablow and chryslerfan55 like this.
  15. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,047

    from Quincy, IL

    Chrysler Corporation did a lot of interesting things with export cars and those built in Canada and Australia. Many times Plymouths were dressed up with grilles and bits of trim and marketed as DeSotos, Chryslers and Dodges.

    The Belvederes I had were in the early '90s and I don't have any computer saved images to share. Some where, I do have some paper photos, but in storage in a shoebox....haven't seen them in some time.

    One interesting experience with the better of my two Belvederes. It was a Dove Gray body with Dark Blue roof, split manifold and dual exhausts, unique exhaust pipe tips and fender skirts. Some years after I sold it, I was in a theater watching a Johhny Cash movie "Walk the Line". In a couple of the movie segments his band was driving between gigs and one of the cars in their group was my old Plymouth Belvedere! Some of my family and friends laughed at me for claiming it was my old car. But it had all of the correct details.

    I tracked down some info on the movie production and found a newspaper interview with the then owner of the car. He lived near Memphis, Tennessee and had just bought the car a couple of weeks before, when a man flagged him down while he was driving in Memphis and wanted to rent the car for the movie. A man who owned the car after me had contacted me about some information on the Plymouth, and he lived in Southern Missouri, not that far from Memphis, TN. So given all the above, I am satisfied it was the same Plymouth Belvedere that I (and several other people, before and after me) had owned. It's really not so unbelievable, as all the old cars that appear in movies are rented and all have belonged to several people in their lifetime. It really didn't matter one way or the other, but was fun to see it in that context.

    dwollam, chryslerfan55 and 'Mo like this.
  16. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 7,432


    I love it, Hnstray.
    Any details on the split manifold?

    To the OP, I'm not a Mopar guy, and I don't know how much you know, so please pardon the obvious.
    IF your motor is a dependable runner, Red's has headers but splitting the exhaust is a time honored first step.
    It consists of adding a second outlet, AND a partition in the exhaust manifold to separate the sound between the pipes. Depending on an engines port configuration, possible splits are 3/3, 4/2, and even 5/1, depending on placement of the partition. (The Plymouth has six E. ports.)


    If the head comes off the motor, you may be surprised to find out how much warpage has occurred.
    A cut of .060" will true it up, and raise your C.R. by more than half a point. This will probably be the most bang for the buck. If the motor comes out, you can deck the block another .010"

    Offenhauser still makes 2/1 manifolds for this mill. You might find a later 2 bbl manifold, but the dual carbs give much better fuel distribution.

    An HEI converter in the distributor is recommended.

    Your O.D. tranny is a +++

    From what I gather, early Mopars benefit from relocating the upper front shock mounts. (Do a search.) Otherwise, you should be good to go, as is. Just ckean it up, and make it safe.
    And please, keep us updated!
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  17. Thanks for all that info, I'll surely modify the exhaust manifold, I have heard of that mod but never seen it in pictures now I realise how to do it. Also, I wanted to fabricate an intake for dual carbs, do you know of anybody that did the same?. To order parts from the states it's not feasible because customs in my country are expensive.
  18. Update: Took off the seats and interior panels to repair the floor metal, Also working on exterior taking off the paint, bondo and some fiberglass somebody thought was a good idea to repair the car :( . Found out that somebody put larger spark plugs which had hit the cylinder heads, thankfully it's not badly damaged, tried to start the engine but instantly caught fire on some cables, lots of useless cables, I'm gonna take all the electricity off and start from the bottom. Got some provisional tires from the trash bin hahah. I'm setting a first deadline to make it run for a car meet in December, and then a second one in February for a major kustom event held in Punta del Este, Uruguay. 20171019_011419A_snap.jpg 20171019_011443A.jpg 20171019_011449A.jpg 20171019_011452A.jpg 20171019_011513A.jpg 20171019_011521A.jpg 20171019_011542A.jpg

    Attached Files:

  19. Today I started the old 218 for the first time in I don't know how many years, the sound its precious I can't believe how little work I had to do to fire it up. Just made the sparkplug cables, some cables that were really bad in the distributor, not even cleaned the carb which I'm doin tomorrow, I just put some gas on the carb (no gas tank yet) and it is alive !! This week I will start with the electricity and maybe weld some floor panels so I can reassemble the interior, hoping to get it runnin for that car meet in december.
    dwollam, Russ B, Okie Pete and 4 others like this.
  20. Slopok
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,651


    Get it running again and let it warm up real good, then change the oil & filter!
  21. Que chevere nave che,posta! Felicidades!
  22. This is a little update, still haven't started welding, but will soon 20171016_130010.jpg 20171017_132322.jpg 20171017_132347.jpg 20171017_132404.jpg 20171017_132414.jpg 20171017_132446.jpg 20171018_123424.jpg 20171018_123430.jpg 20171023_113555.jpg 20171023_113733.jpg 20171026_133711.jpg 20171030_022002A_snap.jpg 20171030_022031A.jpg
  23. dave plmley
    Joined: Oct 24, 2014
    Posts: 141

    dave plmley

    I bought a 53 hard top for $25.00 when I was a kid. It was in a little fender bender so I replaced one front fender and a hood. My grandfather painted it artic white and we left the top light blue. The thing was like new till I got done with it. I ran it into trees and stuff just for fun. The car looked cool but I hated the gutless engine. It ended up in the salvage yard and I found a 56 Merc hard top, whit with a light green top.
    chryslerfan55 and junkers72 like this.
  24. As I couldn't find any replacement for my water pump I decided to repair it, I bought a new axle with bearing and modified the pump so it fitted. Also I teared the front end apart and sanded most of the car, still lots of metal work to do but at list it won't get more rusty as I threw some premier on it.
    Have you ever used a beer tin to fit something?? haha because Roadkill.
    IMG-20171206-WA0028.jpeg 20171206_144929.jpg 20171206_145029.jpg IMG-20171121-WA0014.jpeg
  25. southerncad
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 774


    Wow, I am impressed with your progress and your almost "old time" fabrication skills.
    Keep us informed, and good luck on the rest of the build.
  26. I am pretty sure that is a Chrysler export car I have a 53 "dodge wagon" that is really a Plymouth with dodge grille and dash board I also have a 51 4 dr sedan same thing has dodge badges but Plymouth tail lites , dash and grill in the 50's when Hawaii was a territory we got the export cars . If you get stuck on any parts PM me maybe I can help.
    Satyr and chryslerfan55 like this.
  27. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,047

    from Quincy, IL

    '53 and '54 Dodge wagons were based on the Plymouth wagon body for Continental US production. Dodge versions did use minor bits and pieces different than Plymouth, like the grille and dash you mention, but also tail lights etc. Same for the 2 door hardtop and convertible with the exception that those cars also had Dodge quarter panels.

    Aside from the fact the OP's car obviously was shipped to South America at some point, it doesn't seem to me to have any distinctly 'Export" characteristics. You are quite correct that many/most export Chrysler brands were based on Plymouth bodies and used grilles and trim (or similar) of higher line models such as Dodge, De Soto and Chrysler.

    In any case, Congratulations to the OP for his determination and resourcefulness in resurrecting his Belvedere Hardtop with such limited access to parts.

    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  28. impala59
    Joined: Jun 21, 2010
    Posts: 498

    from vallejo,ca

    My friend from Sacramento owns this one.

    Attached Files:

  29. Ahh almost forgot, these are the car photos ...

    Attached Files:

    chryslerfan55, AndersF and Hnstray like this.
  30. I have seen some of those export cars around, can't really say this is one because there are brochures from that time that show my car exactly as it is, but maybe some day I figure it out.
    1953 Plymouth Ad (Cdn)-01.jpg plymouth_16.jpg
    dwollam, chryslerfan55 and Hnstray like this.

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