Sunday, November 6, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1959 Plymouth Savoy

It's relatively uncommon to see custom cars on the streets of San Francisco, but this was an exception. In summer 2007 my friend and I took a day trip into the city which took us through the Mission District. We pulled over to check out this 1959 Plymouth Savoy, apparently made into a rat rod with rattlecan flat black paint, red steel wheels and outlined red flames.

Despite its fancy-sounding name, the Savoy was Plymouth's cheapest offering in 1959. All their full-size models except the Fury were named for luxury hotels. Replacing the now-defunct Plaza, it was a basic vehicle lacking the ornamentation and some of the equipment of the Belvedere or Fury. The body came with a simple chrome spear that ran from the taillights to the top of the front wheel arch (this example has apparently had that trim removed and the mounting holes filled, although some taxis did without the trim pieces from the start). Lower-grade Savoys came with six-cylinder engines, though V8s were available, even the Golden Commando engine from the upscale Fury if so desired. Three different transmissions were available and such conveniences as swivel seats and auto-dimming mirrors and lights could also be had. Savoys were evidently very popular for taxi duty, and a fair number were used in police fleets. Over 84,000 Savoy four-door sedans were sold in 1959.

After the initial sighting of this car in 2007, it disappeared from my life and I figured I'd never see it again. Then three years later it resurfaced, interestingly over by Fifties Guy's place. It made me wonder, was it another member of his collection or did it belong to one of his friends? It seemed fitting, as 1950s cars are otherwise exceedingly rare in the city. One month later I saw it again. This time the silly flames had been painted over and some of the spots had been touched up. It still wore a section "I" residential parking permit from the Mission. If it is indeed a vehicle belonging to Fifties Guy, I hope that it has received attention to make it presentable. I'd like to see it restored. He seems to be one of the few people who sees value in '50s-vintage four-door sedans, and for that I respect him.


  1. Just how many acres of sheet metal went into making one of these ?

    I'd love to have a go in one, I imagine even in this state I'd be grinning from ear to ear :-)

  2. My father had one of these in the early 60's. It was a former LaMesa CA Police car. It was one of his favorite cars and he regretted not being able to keep it.

    1. I have seen pictures of old La Mesa Plymouths and Dodges from that time . Maybe one was Your Dads old car .

  3. “I hope that it has received attention to make it presentable.” - I hope so, since he has a great vehicle. Yes, these kinds of vehicle are rare, and good thing there are people who managed to take care of them and give them some love.

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  5. In 1992, my then-girlfiend and I bought this car, from an owner at a vintage car show at the Oakland Coliseum, which was in rat-rod condition. She wanted to restore it as much as possible. After we broke up she sold it to a mutual friend, who had it for a number of years, and then turned it over (to whomever I don't know). Good seeing it again - some sweet and some bitter memories come to mind.