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Plymouth business coupe, 1939

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Plymouth business coupe, 1939
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Jeff Tinsley, Negative #: 2003-32662


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Automobile Collection — Car collection, 1930-1949

Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s
Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s — Ring's Rest

Plymouth business coupe
Plymouth business coupe

Plymouth business Coupe
Plymouth business Coupe

Plymouth business coupe
Catalog #: 2003.0223.01, Accession #: 2003.0223
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection

This automobile is a 1939 Plymouth P-8 Deluxe coupe. It was among the first cars to feature a gearshift lever on the steering column instead of in the traditional location on the floor. The streamlined styling of the 1939 Plymouth is among the best examples of art-deco automotive form and ornamentation. In the late 1920s and 1930s, Chrysler Corporation successfully marketed Plymouth as a low-priced rival to Ford and Chevrolet. Strong sales of the new make constituted a bright spot during the Great Depression. Plymouth stood at number three in production volume by 1931, and output reached a half million cars per year by 1936. Several other auto manufacturers had introduced "companion" marques in the 1920s, but only Plymouth achieved high volume and found a lasting place in the market. Car collector and museum curator Richie Clyne donated this example to the Smithsonian in 2003.

Physical Description

1939 Plymouth P-8 DeLuxe Coupe. All-steel body, black with chrome trim and tan upholstery. Six-cylinder engine and manual transmission. 16' 3" L x 6' 2" W x 5' 8" H

Date Made:
Gift of Richie Clyne

The coupe body became popular in the late 1920s, when more people were shopping for closed cars at low prices. Coupes were popular among traveling salesmen, young people, single women, and others who needed room for only one or two people. Open runabouts and roadsters preceded coupes and developed into sporty convertibles with the rising popularity of coupes. The word "coupe" is French for "cut," meaning a standard vehicle cut in size. It was first applied to downsized carriages that held one or two passengers.

Related People, Places, and Events
Plymouth Motor Corporation, a division of Chrysler Corporation

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