With that lingering memory he began shopping for an appropriate car. “I wanted something with fat, round fenders,” he says.
Soon thereafter Hummel found a 1949 Plymouth Special DeLuxe four-door sedan in that had been mostly restored, painted and upholstered. He thought the car was cute and the price was right so he struck a deal.
A week later, when the seller drove the Plymouth to Hummel’s home, he was shocked by the condition of the tires. The inner tubes were protruding through holes in the sidewalls of the 6.70×15-inch tires. “Delivering the car to me took pretty much what it had in it,” Hummel says.
The car sat where it was parked until Hummel bought a new set of tires. He also invested in a new battery and cables, poured some fresh gasoline in the carburetor and got the 217.8-cubic-inch, six-cylinder engine to run. It didn’t run well, but Hummel was encouraged and knew that with a tune-up he could get the engine to again produce 97 horsepower.
Hummel says that within six months, “I had it tuned-up, installed a new fuel pump, new carburetor and new brakes.”
Hummel’s confidence in his Plymouth increased to the point that he put his car on the road in the winter of 2006. Once the Plymouth was moving about under its own power, Hummel’s wife, Jennifer, agreed that she liked the car. “All I did was grease it up good,” he says.
For three years after World War II, the major American automakers sold mildly freshened pre-war model cars to car-starved customers. The car Plymouth built in 1949 came in two series. The first series was built until March 1949 and was really like the 1946 through 1948 models. The second series was a totally new car like the one Hummel owns.
His 3,079-pound Plymouth rides on a 118.5-inch wheelbase and is one of 252,878 such models that when new had a base price of $1,629. The Special DeLuxe was the top-trim level offered.
Each taillight is held in place on the rear fender by a chrome spear. A single brake light is mounted on the trunk lid above the trunk handle and below the license plate. A Mayflower ship emblem, a Plymouth staple, is also on the trunk lid. At the other end of the car the ship emblem is in chrome on the engine hood.
Hummel is a firm believer in using e-bay to find parts for his 59-year-old Plymouth. “You can’t beat it,” he says enthusiastically, as most of the pot metal trim pieces have been replaced.
Because Hummel’s car is a top-of-the-line model Plymouth, the interior features two visors and a three-spoke steering wheel trimmed with a 360-degree chrome horn ring. Optional extras include an AM radio and a heater. The space on the dashboard reserved for an optional clock is filled with a Mayflower ship emblem.
The windshield wiper knob sits atop the center of the dash near the point where the two pieces of the windshield meet. In front of the windshield is the cowl vent, which Hummel says is his air conditioner.
The speedometer can register speeds up to 100 mph, however, Hummel says, “It doesn’t like to go over 50 mph. It will do 55 but is unhappy. It can do 57 but is really unhappy.”
Bright work is plentiful on the Plymouth from the trim rings and hubcaps on the wheels to both bumpers, which have been replated with chrome. The six-volt electrical system easily handles its chores. Fluid capacities include 15 quarts of coolant, 5 quarts of oil, plus one for the filter and oil bath air cleaner. The gas tank holds 17 gallons.
With 63,000 miles on the odometer, Hummel’s Plymouth is surrounded in his driveway by a bunch of Ford products. He says it seems like “old times.” — Vern Parker