For 1949, Dodge cars were given modern model names for the first time, rather than letter and number codes, or generic Standard, Deluxe, and similar corporate-shared labels; this was to celebrate new bodies, for the first time since 1945, sharing a long and low look but retaining the conservative general look of the postwar cars. The fenders had a larger peak in the center, and parking lights were placed under the headlights. All Dodges were powered by a flat-head six cylinder engine, with 103 gross horsepower at 3,600 rpm, solid lifters, and a Stromberg single-barrel carburetor (it would continue to have this setup and the same horsepower rating through 1953). FluidDrive was standard, and a new optional transmission, Gyro-Matic, was now sold. Other options included an electric clock, radio (consider the year!), heater, whitewalls, and turn signals.
Dodge caption: “A crack Alaska dog team puts on an exhibition of acceleration and surefootedness for Dodge engineers and test drivers at Gakona, Alaska, about 200 miles east of Anchorage. Dodge sent three of its new Coronet sedans to Fairbanks and Anchorage on a cold weather endurance run last February. A motor trip to Alaska is said to be feasible for the average motorist in summer or winter.”
The Coronet was the top trim level, as one might expect from the name (a small crown worn by those who are not kings or queens, e.g. princes and dukes); it was nearly identical to the Wayfarer and Meadowbrook, differing in trim, options, and minor styling changes. However, Coronet was available in a wider range of styles: two door hardtop coupe (according to the Standard Catalog of Chrysler; Nick Taylor said it appeared in 1950), two door convertible, six and nine passenger station wagons, four door sedans for six and eight passengers, and four door Town Sedan.
Wayfarers, the entry level Dodges, were sold as two door six-passenger sedans, two-door three-passenger coupes, and, later, two-door, three-passenger roadsters. The Wayfarer roadster came with removeable windows, which were later replaced by rollup windows with vents. The base sedan was the Meadowbrook, sold only as a four-door sedan holding six passengers.
“The new low-priced Dodge Wayfarer roadster is ultra-modern in construction. Its sturdy top framework is made of aluminum. The driver raises the top without leaving his seat. Clear plastic side windows, framed in aluminum, slip easily into sockets in the doors. The roadster can thus be converted quickly into a closed car.”
“... low silhouette and distinctive roof line ... Fluid Drive and Super Cushion tires as standard equipment.”
This photo was taken on a run from Detroit to Fairbanks; the waterfall is near Muncho Lake, BC.
All three Dodges were made in Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Leandro, California. The regular models were introduced in April 1949, and the roadster and wagon followed. The market responded very favorably, with an incredible 260,000 1949 model year sales that made Dodge the #2 automaker in its class and sixth largest automaker as a whole, with nearly a 6% total market share. This would be Chrysler Corporation’s final year in the #2 sales slot, an honor it held largely thanks to Plymouth but also to Dodge’s success.
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