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Dodge cars of 1946: Deluxe and Custom

The 1946 Dodge cars had many improvements over the prewar cars; the big news, though, was the new "All Fluid Drive," which added a torque converter to the manual transmission to make driving a little easier. This was the year Dodge hit five million cars built - with 156,000 sold for the year; market share for Dodge along was a generous 7.4%.

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The two Dodges were merely trim levels of the same car - the Deluxe and the Custom, both using a straight-six flat-head engine. The Deluxe was sold as a two or four door six-passenger sedan, or a two door, three passenger coupe; the Custom was sold as a six-passenger, four-door sedan, twin sedan, or two-door club coupe, or as a five-passenger, two-door convertible, or as a seven-passenger, four-door sedan (the most expensive model).

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The Deluxe sold for $1,229 to $1,339, while the Custom went from $1,384 to $1,743. Weights ranged from 3,146 pounds to 3,461 pounds, except the seven-passenger sedan at a whopping 3,757 pounds. All were officially classified as Series D-24.

The Custom had electric wipers, chrome around the outside windows, upscale trim, and more comfortable front seat cushions. The Delxue and Custom were assembled in both Detroit and California.

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  • The six cylinder gained a new manifold for more even acceleration.
  • New six-cylinder hydraulic brakes worked with one-third less pressure; dual hydraulic cylinders in each front brake increased braking force, while more even force distribution helped to keep brake lining wear down.
  • A new starter was operated by a button on the dash.
  • The wiring harness was wrapped in oven-sealed plastic to protect against leaks and wear. The wiring was also shortened and simplified for better radio reception.
  • An Oilite fuel filter in the gas tank was self-cleaned "by the sloshing action of gasoline in the tank." The brochure noted, "Under the most rigid Army tests, this was the only filter that met military requirements to prevent the passage of dirt and other impurities." It removed the need for a glass sediment bowl at the fuel pump.
  • An improved replaceable cartridge oil filter was now available; replacing it cost less than one third the cost of the prior filter, but it was more effective. The new system worked well with the new, higher-capacity oil pump.
  • A new instrument panel had brighter, safer non-glare edge lighting with higher contrast. The steering wheel got a new horn ring and center ornament. The speedometer was wick-lubricated. New plastic control buttons were centrally grouped.
  • A new optional electric clock put the setting button onto the clock instead of in the glove compartment.
  • Door drainage was improved to reduce rust.

The car itself was 204.5 inches long, on a 119.5 inch wheelbase (quite an overhang); the height was about 68 inches, the width 76 inches. Tires were six inch by 16 inches, inflated to 28 pounds.

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Inside, plastic was used for door knobs and controls on the instrument panel. Rotary door latches allowed for closing doors lightly; spring tension kept the doors closed.

The optional turn signals were put in their current position to the left of the steering column. Other options included a clock, radio, heater, and backup lights.

Pistons were a lightweight aluminum alloy with a special plating for protection against scuffing and scoring. Four piston rings were used; the upper two were plated. Special alloy valve seat inserts and a new rolled finish of valve stems increased valve life.

For more information, see our postwar-Chrysler Corp. vehicle section or our 1949 Dodge section!

1946 Dodge specifications

Bore and stroke3.25 x 4.625 (230 cid)
Horsepower 102 gross @ 3,600
Compression ratio 6.7:1 (Dodge figure); 8.6:1 (Std. Cat. of Chrysler figure)
CarburetorStromberg BXV-2, single barrel
Wheelbase119.5 (except seven-passenger sedan, 137.5)
Length204.5 (except seven-passenger sedan, 222.5)

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See the 1949 Dodge page

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