Plymouths of 1933: PC, PD, PCXX; Silver Dome, Red Head
The PC and PD model Plymouths of 1933 are very significant cars in the history of the Chrysler Corporation, Following the successful sales year of 1932, in which Plymouth was the only automaker to show a sales increase over 1931, Walter Chrysler announced an unprecedented move. The Corporation, despite the fact it had lost money, would spend nine million dollars to retool for a new car to replace the 4 -cylinder PB. The significance of these cars are that they entered Plymouth into the world of the 6-cylinder automobile. And this car would put the Chrysler Corporation into second place in production and sales for the year 1933, bumping the Ford into the third place spot for the first time in its history.
Walter Chrysler believed a four cylinder engine was the answer for a low priced car but he realized that the American buying public wanted more. Despite the economic climate a 6-cylinder car meant prestige to the buying public — and Chrysler gave them just what they wanted.
Chrysler's move into the 6-cylinder, low price field was so unprecedented that Automotive Industries magazine devoted many pages of their February 4, 1933 issue to the machinery installed in the Plymouth plant, machinery which would not only produce the 6-cylinder engine but machines that would cut Chrysler's cost of producing those engines to a point to make it worth while in a low priced automobile. The article, entitled "Chrysler Shoots The Works in New Plymouth Plant," made obvious reference in its title to the gamble being taken by the barely 5 year old Plymouth company.
To announce the car Chrysler bought an hour and a half of air time on the ABC radio system to conduct a meeting with his force of 7,232 dealers. Via the air waves, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m., Chrysler and his top management presented their plans and their new car to the Plymouth dealers and employees. And they presented it to anyone else who cared to tune into the program - potential customers and rival companies alike! Prior to the radio program Chrysler had also purchased ads in many major newspapers apologizing to the radio listening public for taking up air time and preventing these people from listening to their favorite programs which the Chrysler meeting had pre-empted. It may not have been entertaining but it did give the general public the unique opportunity to sit in on the sidelines of a major corporation's business meeting.
The big news for the year, of course, was the introduction of the 6-cylinder engine. The valve-in-block engine displaced 189.8 cubic inches from a bore of 3 1/4" and a stroke of 4 1/8". With the standard compression ratio of 5.1 the engine, which retained the Silver Dome name, pumped out 70 horsepower at 3,600 rpm. With the optional aluminum "Red Head" the compression ratio jumped to 6.5 while the horsepower increased to 76.
The engine used a redesigned water pump for better cooling efficiency, aluminum alloy pistons and had a new first as it was fitted with insert bearings on the main and connecting rod bearings, as well as the first camshaft bearing. Power was transmitted from a 9" dry clutch plate through a three speed transmission with helical gears for smooth, quiet operation.
With the introduction of the 6-cylinder engine Plymouth could now compete with the "Six For The Price of A Four" Chevrolet but still trailed Ford by two cylinders as Henry brought out his famous V8. The new (Plymouth) engine proved to be most reliable and an economical powerplant. The basic six remained in production from its introduction in October 1932 until the cessation of 1959 model production. At that time the Valiant (which would be the shortest wheelbase Plymouth built in Plymouth history since the PC) utilized the Slant Six. The old reliable flathead six kept many an old Plymouth on the road long after its original engine had been scrapped.-the later engines were bolt for bolt swaps into the early cars. (The engine received a fully jacketed water system in 1935 which meant moving the starter slightly outboard on the bell housing. For a later engine to be put into the '33 or '34 models the bell housing had to be changed but this was unnecessary from '35 on).
The new 6-cylinder Plymouth, code named the PC, hit the showroom floors in October of '32. Body styles for the series included a convertible coupe with rumble seat, a business coupe, a rumble seat coupe and a four door sedan, The two door sedan did not come along until February. Missing body styles from the PS series included the roadster, the convertible sedan, the 7-passenger sedan and the phaeton.
The PC was a short, stubby car built on a 107" wheelbase chassis. The car simply was not attractive, With its stubby appearance, its chrome plated massive radiator shell and its slanted hood louvers that were at different angles from either the windshield slant or the cut of the front opening doors, it was not "right," The car was too short for fender mounted spares, a fact which did not sit well with dealers, so much so that the wheelbase was increased an inch within months to make this option available. Still, with side mounts, the tires sat high in the fenders and give the car an awkward appearance. It soon became apparent that although the car was selling well, it was not the success the Corporation hoped it would be. The new 6-cylinder car looked more like a 4-cylinder car than the 4-cylinder PB had looked! The company would have to manufacture a bigger, more expensive looking car without much expenditure in additional money or time--the car HAD to be ready for the spring selling market.
A quick took through the Corporation's other divisions for a parts source soon had the boys at Dodge a little on edge. In the corporate manufacturing structure the Dodge was to be the big brother companion to the inexpensive little Plymouth. To rob Dodge of a long wheelbase frame? What would happen to Dodge? And if Plymouth were to build a bigger car for 1933 what would becom eof the small '33 Plymouth?
By Andrew G.; courtesy of the Plymouth Bulletin (1976)
i'm hopeful this article will shed some light on the ambiguity surrounding the various models as well as invoke comments pro and con. My information was compiled from original Plymouth catalogs, folders, shop/parts & owners manuals from my personal collection with assistance material from Mr. Lou DeSimone, former Editor of our Plymouth Bulletin; and from Earl Buton Jr. Our hard working Technical Director. There will be some points (i'm sure) that have been overlooked or omitted, but in view of my one finger "pick & peck" i think this will be of help to 1933 owners and others.
The PC made its debut in October of 1932. Incorporated into a brand new L-Head Six were exhaust valve seats, new aluminum alloy pistons, removable connecting rod bearings, and a newly designed water pump among other ideas. The body showed the beginning of modern styling and was available in a variety of colors, trim, and accessories which made 258 different Plymouths possible. It sold for $495, quite a contrast to the 1928 Plymouth's selling price of $735. Even with all of the mechanical improvements it was evident the PC's styling was not what the buying public wanted.
Originally set up on a 107" wheelbase; January, 1933 saw a crash program to go to a 112" wheelbase for the Deluxe PD Plymouth. The original PC production was ended in March of 1933 with a total of 59,900 units being made. Many changes were made going from the PC to the PD some of which are a front bumper with a dip in the center, and a longer bullet shaped Headlamp Assembly helped looks.
The PC has two Radiator Ornaments; one of simple flat design, the other was the "Flying Lady". The PD went to a Radiator cap also in two designs, again-, one a simple oval shaped base with a center rib, the other a Winged Lady only longer in length, slender in body and more graceful compared with the PB "Flying Lady". The hoods used on the early PCs had louvers slanting forward, uniform in length, set on a raised panel. On cars after serial #1804659 the louvers were vertical and diminished in length on the last 5 rows. The PD was similar but longer.
Production ended in December of 1933.
iNTERiORS OF 1933 PLYMOUTHS
The faces of all instruments of the Deluxe Plymouth Six are designed and grouped to obtain a balanced instrument board with complete visibility. There is a glove compartment on the right side of the instrument panel and a raised plate on the left side which produces the effect of another compartment. The pull-type light switch button on the left side of the board is in the same relative position as the glove compartment button on the right side.
A large distinctive 90 mile aviation type speedometer is placed in the center of the instrument panel with a temperature indicator and oil pressure gauge to the right, and a gasoline gauge and ammeter to the left. Figures are silver etched in the black outline of the dials against a dull silver back ground. Instrument calibration marks and edges of the black outline and silver-etched figures are in green gold. Instruments are indirectly lighted with an independent panel light switch located on the lower edge of the instrument board on the left side. The throttle control button and illuminated ignition lock is to the right of the instrument panel and the choke button and free wheeling control button to the left.
The instrument panel of the Standard Plymouth Six, on which are mounted all essential instruments, (minus temperature indicator) is readily visible from the driver's seat. The speedometer is of the clock hand type. This applies also to the oil pressure gauge. The head lamp switch is on the instrument panel.
Seat cushion edges and door openings of the Deluxe are finished with attractive lacings and all seat cushions are the new distinctive., wide pleated bolster type. In the sedan there is a robe cord, assist loops, foot tail, ash trays, a shade for the rear window and a large fully adjustable sun visor for the driver. The standard Six has narrow pleats for all it's seat cushions. The front seat in all models of the DeLuxe, as well as the Standard's four door sedan, are adjustable by means of a quick acting trigger latch with a sufficient range of adjustment to make driving comfortable for any person. The seat of the two door sedan and coupes may be adjusted to 3 positions. Depending on the body style, upholstery could be Broadcloth, Pile Fabric, Bedford Cord, Flat Mohair, and colonial grain leather.
A radio antenna is built into the top structure of all DeLuxe closed cars. The underbody has been designed to accommodate the new all electric Philco Transitone Radio. Removal of a metal plate exposes a receptacle into which the radio unit is placed.
Duplate safety plate glass is standard equipment in the windshields of all Deluxe models and it may be obtained as original equipment in all windows of both models. (Note: club rules state safety glass MUST be used in all windshields.) The Duplate glass used in Plymouth cars represent a considerable advancement in the manufacture of glass. Anti-glare characteristics were developed which make driving, particularly on bright sunshiny days, far easier on the driver than had been possible in the past. Edge separation as well as any tendency to change color have been eliminated.
The accessories for use in the interior are varied and provide the driver with a full range of aids and comfort. Starting the list are radio, clock, cigar lighter, and seat covers. Others include rear view mirror shield, combination lap robe and car pillow, passenger side sun visor, and windshield defroster.
The PC was improved by the availability of a temperature gauge and a utility compartment box. (2 sizes - W/locks) Personal comfort was increased by a "Kool Kushion" seat pad and an umbrella and case. The umbrella is a full size, high quality type, that rolls up neatly and compactly into the supplied case. It is fastened to the top or floor along the seats where it is out of the way, but instantly available. Concluding the list of accessories would be waxes, window glass and fabric cleaners.
Wheelbase: PC 107 inches, PD 112
Maximum Torque 130 @ 1,200 R.P.M. Opt. 136
Fuel tank: PC 11 gallons, PCXX 11 1/2 gallons, PD 15 gallons
Overall length: PC 174 inches, PD 178 inches
Six cylinders, 13 quart radiator (PD, 14 quarts)
Bore: 3 1/8, stroke 4 1/8
Piston Displacement 189.82
Compression Ratio 5.5 to i
Opt. Red Head 6.5 to 1
Maximum H.P. 70 @ 3,600 R.P.M.; Opt. 76 @ 3,600 R.P.M.
1933 models marked the first use of metallic paint on the Plymouth cars, which was the French Taupe #4 (Brown) Polychromatic.
The 1933 models have two styles of stripe. One style used two small lines running from the hood back to the rear area and the other used three lines. One of the lines in the three line style was wider and followed the lower line and was slightly above it. Another detail which should be observed is the lines at the front of the hood join in the shape of an arrow which follows the raised part of the hood. On the earlier models, (PB and back) the two stripes did not join but stopped at the front edge of the hood.
One owner's 1933 PC
The car is a '33 Plymouth Model PC 6 cylinder flat-head engined 4 door sedan. The car has approx. 71000 original miles on it and has only been repaired but not restored. The engine had never been opened until I took off the head to install a new head gasket as a precaution. The part numbers on all the pistons are the Chyrco part number for '0' oversize bore.
Plymouth had 4 cylinder flat-heads from the first in 1928 to the 1932 model year. Then to catch up with Ford V8s and Chevrolet’s six-cylinder engine ,Chrysler put a six in the Plymouth for the first time. It's a 189.5 cubic inch (3 litre) engine producing 70 hp with a downdraught carb for the first time. The engine is American because Canadian Chrysler products did not have home grown engines until the Windsor casting plant was built in 1937.
It also has the first hood ornament for Chrysler because the rad cap is inside under the hood for the first time. The 'flying mermaid' in not removable, she's just an ornament.
The wheelbase is a very short 107". No sidemounts were offered because none could be installed without interfering with the front opening 'suicide' doors. It has 4 wheel Lockheed hydraulic brakes like all Chrysler products.
The wooden wheels were a $45 option called 'Airwheels". They are quite unique because they are 100 mph. wooden wheels. The car is capable of 80 mph.(the speedometer maxes at 90 mph) so the wheels have to have a margin of safety and that puts them at about a 100 mph. design. They must be the fastest wooden wheels ever made. I've been told they're made of hickory like baseball bats. Imagine the engineering that went into them for them to last this long. There are no fasteners of any kind holding the wheel assembly to-gether. The whole thing is held to-gether in a compression fit.There are no bolts in either end of the spokes. They show no sign of deterioration. They were made by Motowheel in Detroit.
The original 17" wires,which I still have,were made by Kelsey-Hayes. The tires on the Airwheels are 600-16" tube type bias ply.
Because the PCs were the first 6s for Plymouth and their VIN numbers started at 9311001, it turns out this is the oldest Canadian 6 cylinder Plymouth extant. Its VIN (serial number) is 9311042. It's just the 42nd 6 cylinder Plymouth made. It was built at Windsor Ontario on Thursday Oct.21/1932 in time for the introduction of the '33s on Nov.1st. Because it has so many factory options as original equipment,I suspect it was a 'showroom model' for some dealer ordered for the introduction. Several million cars followed it down the lines in Windsor because Plymouth didn't stop using the flat head engine until 1960 when it was finally replaced by the OHV Slant Six.
Only minor items like screws, bolts, clamps had been changed over the years and these were put back to the way they were when the car left Chrysler Centre on that Thursday long ago. It has free wheeling as standard,which I use all the time, and it also has a vacuum operated clutch. I don't use the vacuum clutch but it still works. If it's engaged you don't have to put your foot on the clutch pedal,the engine vacuum is used to move the pedal at just the right time and you only have to move the gear shift lever. It was a $5 option installed so that the Mrs. didn't have to contend with the clutch. I don't like it because I automatically want to move the clutch when I shift gears. So I keep it disengaged. It was a kind of 'semi automatic' for 1933.
It also has the rare original bumperettes front and back. The "Cat's Eyes" fog lamps are a contemporary after-market addition of mine.
I've always been impressed that it still has its original red bakelite ignition coil. Most other cars of this era have long since had their coils changed but not this Plymouth.
With 70 hp. at 3600 rpm. it was faster that a Ford V/8 which had 65 hp. and much faster than a Chevrolet. And much more reliable than either.
I relined the brakes 16 years ago and rebuilt the brake cylinders-master and wheel. I've never touched the brakes since then. They work the same now as they did then. And I see no difference in the operation of these 70 year old brakes and a un-boosted set of to-day. How's that for engineering? Fords would have dangerous mechanical brakes until 1939 and Chev would have them until 1935. Except for a split hydraulic/mechanical set-up in 1924, the first year for Chrysler, no Chrysler made vehicle would have mechanical brakes.
The emergency/hand brake on Plymouths and all Chrycos is a drum affixed to the rear of the transmission. When you pull back on that floor lever, the Plymouth stops here. Right now. Not over there. And it takes no effort do it. I have a contemporary,but not Chryco part, red metal triangle sign mounted on the rear apron beside the spare tire. The sign says 'Four Wheel Brakes' and was intended as a warning to others to stay back. This Plymouth can stop on a dime and give you 9 cents change. We still put the Fords in front of us in parades because they take so much further to stop.
I've owned the car for 16 years and hope to own it for another 16 years.