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History Who still built cars during WWII?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Crazy Steve, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. While 'everybody' knows civilian car production stopped early in the '42 model year due to the war, at least some were produced for wartime military/government use, and even some for critical occupations or businesses with the right paperwork to the war resources board.

    Now, I've seen various '42/46 Ford cars (always 4DR sedans) in full military finish and even ran into a guy with a '46-style that he said was titled as a '44 and he had the paperwork to prove it. Another guy I knew personally had a '43 Chev 2T truck with a Marmon-Herrington 4WD conversion bought new during the war. It seemed like the high mucky-mucks and generals managed to scrape up few Lincolns too.

    So does anybody know this history? Where just few makes allowed to build cars/trucks, or did they all sneak stuff out using existing tooling?
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  2. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,795


    I've never seen anything on it but it stands to reason that someone was turning out a few "staff cars" along with what ever they were doing for the war effort. They may have just used the 1942 stampings and built new staff cars though. It might have been built in 43, 44 or 45 but have all 42 parts.
    On the truck it was probably a who you knew and some reason why you needed it. My dad was up on all that kind of stuff before he passed away.
    loudbang likes this.
  3. Need was definitely the case. At the time, the company was doing electrification in eastern Washington (running power to rural areas that had none) among other places, and Hanford was in their area. A lot of their right-of-ways weren't roaded, so the 4WD was needed.
  4. 327Eric
    Joined: May 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,540

    from Diablo Ca.

    I have seen a claimed '44 Plymouth, in a collection of surplus stuff, and a documented '44 International flatbed.

  5. My friend has a 45 Chev pickup. The truck came from Western Canada and the story is there were some light vehicles produced and available for farm use-I also had another old neighbour when I was a kid who had a Willy’s Jeep with a PTO on it- he said it was a civilian model that was available to farmers during the war. I remember seeing him in the field pulling a drag harrow with it.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  6. Car production was ceased in March of 1942 and trucks followed months later. This was to the general public. I've seen some 1942 cars for sale, never anything else until 1946.
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,422


    The car that I'm building for my daughter is a 42 Chevy business coupe. It is my understanding that production for civilian use was early in 1942, so maybe February or March would have been the end until after the war.
  8. oldolds
    Joined: Oct 18, 2010
    Posts: 3,175


    The price of new cars went crazy when it was announced that civilian production was to be halted. A lot of dealers were ruthless. They ordered as many cars as the could, canceled sold orders ect. Then they held the sales for a year or so and sold the cars for near double what they should have sold for. Those cars may have been titled when sold with the current year. So it is possible to have a 41 or 42 car with 43, 44, 45, as the year on the title.
  9. GeeRam
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 432


    Obviously, lots of Govt contract, but, those makers selected to produce for Govt military contract, were as you say, able to still produce batches of civilian commercial vehicles for critical occupations/war effort production for those with the correct authority, and it was a surprisingly high number, not just USA, but happened in UK as well.
    Truck64 likes this.
  10. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,310

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    I don't believe anyone still "built" automobiles once auto production came to a halt around Jan 1942, and assembly lines switched over to the war effort to build planes, tanks, etc. It wasn't like someone was able to stop the tank line and tool back for the day to pump out a few hundred Sedans. Heavy trucks and Jeeps by the thousands, yes, but not Sedans as far as I've ever read. Inventory was froze and stored (in some cases stored on new car dealer lots) and distributed according to strict guidelines and sometimes shipped later in the war. I'm pretty sure for all of 1942 calendar year distribution was strictly to government agencies and no civilian sales. Very strict as everything was during the war, but I'm sure a few weasels worked the system and came away with a vehicle.

    Here's an interesting read on the 1941 Plymouths including timelines and distribution;
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
    rockable likes this.
  11. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,829

    from Ioway

    Not just car production, virtually every "civilian" item was curtailed by 1942 as the government nationalized the factories and converted them to war material production. Washers, bicycles, radios, toasters, many food items, you name it, they were either unobtainable or strictly rationed. Gasoline rationing didn't apply to members of congress (sound familiar?) so it's also conceivable they were able to get new production. Farmers and other critical industries may have got some relief.
  12. fuzzface
    Joined: Dec 7, 2006
    Posts: 1,321


    "On the truck it was probably a who you knew and some reason why you needed it."

    Can't talk about WWII personally but I would believe or bet that this is quite accurate based on our experience during desert storm. we blew our rig up when we were down around 400 ft. and when we tried to get a replacement diesel we were told it would be anywhere from 26-36 weeks before we could get one because every engine coming off the assembly line was for the government use due to the golf war.

    we called the DNR (Department of Natural Resource) because it was on there job we broke down on and told them are dilemma. They told us they might be able to help us out and sure enough about an hour later they called back and said we had the next diesel coming off the line. We were lucky we were doing a job for them at that time.
  13. badvolvo
    Joined: Jul 25, 2011
    Posts: 472


    A guy up the road from me has a 42 ford pickup with title. We have no knowledge of the history of the truck, but it is titled as a 42. I almost bought it, where it sets in a field full of buffalos. I went to look at it twice, those buffalos are intimidating to say the least.
    R A Wrench likes this.
  14. williebill
    Joined: Mar 1, 2004
    Posts: 2,808


    Not wanting to change this thread's direction, but I remember the stories my dad told me about working in Oak Ridge during the war. He was lucky enough to have a 39 Plymouth when the war started, the car he drove until 1946. He always told me he never saw anything after 1942, not even for the upper level military guys that were here. Oak Ridge did have a serious bus system during the war, so maybe there wasn't a legit need for the special cars. He did tell me that people that worked here were desperate for decent cars, and notes were always left on his car offering to buy it.
    On a separate note, after the war, the Buick dealer in Knoxville ran ads saying they had new cars, he went to buy one, and brought home a red Buick convertible that had some kind of really oversize wheels. My mom said hell no, and he took it back and got his Plymouth back. Mom wasn't a red convertible kind of girl. He told me he asked the dealer about the fucked up wheels, and they laughed at him, said tough shit, somebody will buy it. I always assumed that the 46 models could have had a lot of stuff that wasn't listed in factory specs, probably one of a kind stuff as the factories used up the leftover parts.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  15. vinfab
    Joined: Apr 18, 2006
    Posts: 224


    This is my understanding of autos during WWII. Auto production ceased in late January 1942, with nearly all production put in storage by Government decree. These were primarily held for Military use with some for civilian use. Doctors for example, could purchase one. They still made house calls at this time and were considered to be vital to the war effort. You can't have a war industry if the workers are home sick.

    The auto manufacturers do not title cars, they issue a statement of origination. Laws in each state dictate how they were titled when sold. Two autos sold the same day, from the same production, but in different states could have two different years on the titles.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
    Bigcheese327 and belair like this.
  16. 26Troadster
    Joined: Nov 20, 2010
    Posts: 638

    from Texas

    a man i worked with years ago had a 1944 ford pickup, it was his grandfathers that he used on the farm. at the time i saw the truck it was being rewired.
  17. Ralph Moore
    Joined: May 1, 2007
    Posts: 651

    Ralph Moore

    I bought a 1945 Ford Commercial (pickup) in 1977.
    While I was searching for parts for the restoration, I had a lot of people tell me Ford didn’t make a pick up in 1945. So I ended up doing a lot of research to find out. What I found was ford made no trucks in 1943, only big trucks in 1944, and in 1945 they started making commercial trucks again. I had the original tag in the glove box that matched 1945 production numbers.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    USMercUte and Atwater Mike like this.
  18. J. A. Miller
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 1,638

    J. A. Miller
    from Central NY

  19. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    from SW Wyoming

    My Grandfather and his brother seperately ran carnival rides under "Howard Brothers Amusement Co.". The company ran with "C" rations, as they were considered important to morale, but they were not allowed any new vehicles. Trucks, and especially tractors, were available to those who had the need.
  20. I had a professor in college that claimed he had a Kaiser/Frasier that was built during the war and the bumpers were made out of wood because they didn't want to use the chrome on civilian vehicles. I never saw the car and this is just what he claimed. I cannot say if its the truth or not. I hope he didn't lie to his students.
  21. TrailerTrashToo
    Joined: Jun 20, 2018
    Posts: 1,049


    Pure bullshit. The first prototypes were displayed in 1947. I googled it to verify:
  22. Well, I guess that clears that up. I wonder what else he told us that was bs....

  23. i graduated from college 43 years ago , looking back at it now about 99% of what i was told was BS
  24. tinsled
    Joined: Sep 7, 2007
    Posts: 613


    Some of the cars made in early 1942 (Jan & Feb) were fitted with painted steel bumpers & grilles because of use of chrome & precious metals were rationed. These were commonly called "blackout models". I've never heard that any american car maker would have made wooden bumpers in 1942, though.
    However, I've seen some teachers lying to students and even enjoyed doing so...
    What was the subject he taught you? Hope not engineering...
  25. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,682

    Atwater Mike

    'Liberal Arts', most likely. Those are still taught today...:eek::D
    USMercUte and norms30a like this.
  26. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,604

    Rusty O'Toole

    Civilian car and truck sales were halted in March or April of 1942 and all unsold vehicles were put into bonded storage. It was possible to get permission to buy one of these IF you could prove you needed one, and IF it was essential to the war effort. I heard of a veterinarian who got a new car because his work was essential to food production and he had to be able get around to all the farms. I have also heard of farmers who got permission to buy a new truck as they were also essential.

    Some of the cars were taken out of bonded storage and converted into stretch limousines for bus type service, taking war workers to work in aircraft plants etc. These conversions were done by the same companies that made airport limousines and buses before the war. A few years ago someone found a stretched Packard that had been used at Alamogordo during the Manhattan Project and restored it. The stretch conversion was mainly made of wood and Masonite with minimal amounts of metal.

    A few hundred cars were produced by Ford during the war. They must have been more or less hand assembled because the assembly lines had been converted to war work.

    By late 1944 it was obvious it was only a matter of time before Germany surrendered, and the big push to supply the military was over. In 1945 plans began to resume car production and I believe some cars were made before the end of the year, but I thought they were sold as 1946 models.

    About the wooden bumpers. Some early production 1946 cars were delivered with black painted 2X6 planks for bumpers, and no spare tire. There was a spare wheel in the trunk with no tire on it. There were coupons in the glove box for the bumpers and tire, in due time you got a letter from the dealer asking you to bring your car in to have the bumpers and spare tire installed. This was done to get around the shortage of chrome and tires when they were getting started producing cars again.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  27. I saw a thread here on the HAMB pertaining to some replacement parts in the event of an accident during the war were made sometimes made of wood. It seems to have had more to do with the insurance company needing to cover the repair and these were not always factory made parts.
  28. Fordors
    Joined: Sep 22, 2016
    Posts: 3,784


    Some private citizens removed their bumpers to turn them in at wartime scrap drives, and they would substitute wooden ones for the protection they provided.
    Americans at home made many sacrifices during WW II that today go largely unremembered. I grew up with a guy who’s grandfather, dad, mom and older brother all worked in their basement shop machining a small part for machine guns under contract to the main manufacturer. Sure, it was a supplement to their income but more importantly it was to defeat those bastards overseas. Patriotism at it’s best.
    gas & guns likes this.
  29. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    The Ford staff cars were made in two or three batches during the way...Ford definitely had the power and flexibility to do that kind of thing. There were lots of pickups, some non-tactical military vehicles, probably many to keep farms and traveling professionals moving, and as noted above quite a bit of civilian stuff in 1945.
    I have somewhere a '44 or early '45 Warshawski catalog selling brand new 221 and 239 Ford motors released from military stocks...apparently we overproduced a bit!
    The Japan war was was projected to go as far as 1947 in the worst case planning before Hiroshima...that would have been a savage war but would have drastically cut back many sorts of production, as all the fighting would be on a few tiny islands. There would not have been space to even park the numbers of trucks and tanks we could make!
    Moriarity likes this.
  30. green53ford
    Joined: Mar 4, 2009
    Posts: 206

    from Wisconsin

    My folks ran a resort during the war and they had a 1945 ford truck. That is what I learned to drive on.

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