Sunday, July 13, 2014

Danville Street Sighting - 1950 Dodge Wayfarer Sportabout

I never really considered the 1950 Dodge lineup to be anything to write home about. Dodges in the first half of the 1950s were blue-collar family sedans and business coupes, the car your insurance salesman drove, or the car you bought secondhand off a corner lot for a couple hundred dollars and couldn't wait to get rid of as soon as you could scrape together enough money for a V8 Ford or a more stylish Chevy. A Dodge was a biggish, roly-poly car with a side valve six-cylinder powerplant built for economy and reliability, not speed or handling. Drop Jimmy and Janie off at school, load up the week's groceries at the corner Kroger, and leave the stoplight drag racing to those darn teenage hooligans in their hopped-up old flathead V8 jalopies.

And then there's this odd-duck two-seater roadster. What were people supposed to make of a full-sized car with just two seats and a convertible top, carrying the name Sportabout, that wasn't actually very sporty? Dodge sold a six-seat convertible as the Coronet, but the Wayfarer Sportabout was a lower series that carried similar styling. The Sportabout came with a shorter body section between the door and rear fender, and an odd forward-raked convertible top with no quarter windows. The effect is a very long rear deck and a relatively small passenger compartment. The Sportabout was a fair value for its size and price, but impractical in its packaging and not much cheaper than its competitors. Only 2,903 were sold in 1950.

This is the only 1950 Wayfarer Sportabout I've ever seen that I recall. Assuming the paint is original, which it probably isn't, it looks to be an approximation of Burma Tan metallic. There's some trim missing, but the main body is in pretty good shape and the car appears roadworthy. It's an interesting footnote in Chrysler Corporation history, one that most people won't see anywhere else.

2 comments:

  1. A couple of comnents:

    Styling- When you compare the Dodge to the same year Chev or Ford, they're all dumpy.

    Power- The stock Ford V8 wasn't a powerhouse, and the Chev 6 with splash lubrication and babbitt bearings wasn't state of the art either. In 1950 the comparable Plymouth won stock car races.

    Competition- There really wasn't any direct competition for a fun cheap ragtop. A car parents might buy their daughter or son to go to college. The Rambler was sort of close, but had a sardine can top and was much more expensive.

    If you see a Wayfarer Sportabout for sale let me know. I'd love to have one.

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    Replies
    1. You're the second person who's contacted me expressing interest in owning one. Unfortunately this car disappeared not long after I photographed it and I don't know its whereabouts.

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