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Cars sold and shipped during World War II

By Jim Benjaminson; courtesy of the Plymouth Bulletin.

[1941 was added by the Webmaster and is based on a no-longer-available page by Charles C. Roberts, Jr.]

Many 1941 Plymouth P11 sedans were ordered by the military, with the Army requiring olive drab paint and the Navy taking civilian paint. Modifications could include lighting, sirens, and oil filters. The car came with four doors and the standard Plymouth 201 cubic inch 6, with 87 horsepower and a three speed manual with low gear ratios. The rear doors were suicide doors, so named because if opened even slightly, the wind would catch them and blow them open. The P11 was widely used for many tasks, including VIP transport and behind the lines duty, in both Europe and the South Pacific. The Navy used it heavily to move flag officers around at naval bases. It was 16 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 6 feet high, with a full eight inches of ground clearance.The P11 was used widely by the Army from transporting VIP's to many other tasks such as courier service, military police, and general behind the lines transportation. The P11 was used in the European and South Pacific theatres. The Navy primarily used the P11 for transportation of flag officers at the various naval bases.
Jan. 1, 1942

A freezing order banned the sale of all new cars until a rationing program could be worked out. The rationing program was to be announced by Jan. 15 but it was postponed until an unannounced date in February.

Jan. 10, 1942

The freezing order was amended to permit the sale of cars to three categories: 1) Army, Navy, US Marines, Commission, Panama Canal and certain other government agencies; 2) Persons assigned to an A-l-j or higher preference rating: 3) Prime contractors with the Army or Navy for construction of defense projects with an A-1-j or higher rating.

Jan. 14, 1942

The government issued an order to "stockpile" all cars shipped after Jan. 15. Cars shipped to dealers could not be sold until specific permission to sell was granted when deemed "in the public interest" but such permission probably wasn't granted earlier than January 1943. Dealers were also required to make the tires and tubes from such vehicles available to any "appropriate agency" at any time so requested. The retail price of any such vehicle was to be limited to the manufacturer's list price at the factory, plus federal excise tax, freight charges and an allowance of 5% of the manufacturer's list price and freight charges or $75, whichever was lower. Beginning Feb. l, a monthly allowance of 1% of the list price or $15, whichever was lower, for storage, maintenance and insurance or finance charges, could also be charged.

Jan, 29, 1942

K.T. Keller wired dealers to ignore the Jan. 14 order when it came to filling new car deliveries to the Army, Navy or Marine Corps and Coast Guard. He further "assumed" eligible new car deliveries could be made to physicians, surgeons, visiting nurses and farm veterinarians: persons engaged in fire fighting, crime prevention or detection, enforcement of laws pertaining to public health and safety, and for transportation of mail. Also included were persons who, as of Jan. 2, who had purchased new cars but had not yet taken delivery as of that date. (This last provision was based on information from Leon Henderson of the Patnnan Committee in the US House who stated that purchasers who, prior to Jan, 1, "had gone through everything except taking actual delivery of the car before the freezing order, will get their cars." This an unofficial version, however.)

Jan. 31, 1942

All US production of Plymouths came to a halt. Plymouth had shipped 23,836 cars during the month of January; an additional 782 cars were shipped during February. (US shipments.)

Feb. 14, 1942

The government puts all new cars that are in stock into long-term storage.

May 1943

Plymouth ships 112 cars: all for export.

Nov. 13, 1943

The War Production Board amended its Limitation under L-15 which set standards for the types of replacement parts that could be made: restricted dealers' inventories of replacement parts: and mandated the disposition of traded-in used parts. (Included was the mandate that all ignition points be returned for salvage of the tungsten in them.) Owners of vehicles needing emergency repairs using parts the dealer or distributor did not have in stock had to sign a declaration stating their need before the parts would be shipped.

Later dates

During the war, Chrysler stressed to the dealers the importance of selling accessories to keep their sales up. Fifty percent of the cars delivered prior to the war were not equipped with radios. To keep the public informed during these "trying times" it was suggested that dealers solicit owners of cars without radios.

During the early part of February 1942 all car owners were required to record the serial numbers of the tires on their cars and report them to the proper authorities. They also had to certify that they had only five tires and tubes for each vehicle they owned.

P15 models were shipped in December 1945. Canada did not ship any cars until January 1946.

Also see Plymouths of 1940 <!--and Chrysler 1940-1942: preparing for war production; making tanks, guns, and planes-->

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