1942 Dodge Custom Sedan

1942 Dodge Custom

The car he loved when he was a kid …

By Tim McCarthy
Back in March, 2012, I found a car for sale on Craigslist that I had been searching for since I was 23 years old.

I had just turned 16 years old. I went on a search for my first old car, to use as my daily driver. My family would take our weekly Sunday drives through the farm lands of Tualatin, Newberg, Sherwood, Beaverton, down narrow, dusty roads of crushed gravel and farm dirt. Each journey in the car I would tell my dad, "If I find an old car or truck that looks like I could afford it, stop so I can jump out to take a better look."

Well, I had saved up money from playing in bands as a kid, and hid it away for just that purpose. I knew if I looked long enough I would find the perfect old car. One sunny day I spotted her, sitting in a farmers yard, under some old oak trees, covered with dirt so thick, you could not see the color of the car, the window glass, or any of the chrome. But, I knew it had to be the car of my teenage dreams. "Stop, Dad, I see one!" My dad reluctently pulled over, into the farmers driveway, next to the old barn which stood near the old car. I wiped some of the dirt off to see it was a '40's Dodge 4dr sedan.I brushed the dirt from the windows, and I could see a very nice dash, but the seats were nearly as dirt laden as the outside of the car.

The farmer came out of the farm house, and I asked him if the Dodge was for sale. My dad cringed when he told me he would consider selling it. He said it ran and drove 'when he parked it' there many years before. He wanted $100 for the car, but I talked him down to $85, telling him that was all the money I had. And, that really was all the money I had to work with, if I were to have cash to fix her up. Before the day was through, we brought back a 6 volt battery, put a few gallons of gas in the tank, and we got her to fire right up! An hour later I watched my dad driving my 1942 Dodge Deluxe D-22 down the gravel roads, smoke occasionally billowing out of the tail pipe. I was following behind him in our new '67 Pontiac Catalina. "You are crazy, but it's your money", my dad told me.

The old Dodge made it home to Sellwood, at which time the whole family came out to see my "new" car! One by one they told me I was nuts, and they walked back into the house. That just charged me up to get to work washing, scrubbing, vacuuming,scraping, steel wooling, waxing, Windexing until my arms fell off. By the time supper rolled around, I invited everyone out to see the '42. Their jaws dropped in awe and amazement that I was able to resurrect her from the dead, into a gleaming, elegant vintage car. Everyone fought over the chance just to ride around in her.

Over the next year, I put in a brand new $250 long block flathead six from Sears Roebuck, new brakes, new tires, and so on. I drove that car through high school, through my first romance, through college, but, then I had to sell her to get money to fly to Michigan to get married. I was the ripe old age of 23 at that time. I sold her for $350, completely restored, thinking I really did well getting that much money for her.

But, I regretted selling that old friend ever since, always looking for another '42 Dodge to buy, but to no avail. Then, 37 years after selling my Dodge sedan, I found an ad on Craigslist in Salem, OR for a 1942 Dodge sedan, formerly of the Harrah's Automobile Collection, with only 41,000 original miles!

I spoke off and on with the seller, but I had no money. I had just purchased my 1940 Plymouth coupe, which was an awesome car, but in need of much restoration. He called me two weeks ago, and wanted to know if I had anything to trade. I had told him about my search, and the story of my first Dodge sedan. He really wanted me to have it. I told him about the fixer '40 Plymouth coupe, and we ended up trading title for title, and now the new old Dodge is in my garage. She runs and drives well, with the exception of the Fluid Drive unit. It must have leaked on the clutch plates, because she slips when you try to accelerate in any gear, not allowing the car to get out of its own way.

This is an extremely rare car, and to make it even more rare, it has the Dodge Custom package, lots and lots of chrome, fancier than a Deluxe model. They only made cars for a few months in 1942, and to find one bedazzled with chrome and stainless, nearly impossible to find. Hopefully, I can talk to some club members about the Fluid Drive issues, and drive her to one of our CPPC gatherings this year. Thanks for listening to my love story . . .