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New from the ground up: Plymouth for 1935 and 1936

by Jim Benjaminson. Copyrighted by the Plymouth Bulletin. Reprinted by permission. Transcribed by John Boyadjian.
Additional photos from 1936 Plymouth marketing added 1-26-2006

1935-factory.jpg
Plymouth entered 1935 with an all new car from the ground up. In
many respects the car was a giant leap forward in automotive design and
technology, but in other respects the car was also a small step
backward.

Both 1933 and 1934 had been good years for Plymouth. 1935 was to be
no exception. Production was up 49 percent over 1934 but it would be
another year before production would surpass the half million vehicle
mark. 1933 had seen the introduction of Plymouth's "L" head 6-cylinder
engine; 1934 had seen the introduction of independent front wheel
suspension. For 1935 improvements were made on the powerplant, but the
front wheel springing mysteriously disappeared.

The 1935 was a solid, good looking car, loosing much of the boxy look
of years previous and starting to take on some degree of streamlining.
The 1935 was offered in two series, both designated the model PJ series,
the cheaper Business series and the more elegantly appointed Deluxe
series.

1935 Plymouth body styles

The Business series included a four door and two door models, both
of the fastback style without a trunk, a business coupe, a commercial
sedan (panel delivery) which was based on a gutted two door sedan, and
the Suburban Westchester station wagon.

The Deluxe series included a fastback two door and four door model,
a two door and four door "Touring Sedan" model, so called because of
the built in trunk at the 10 rear, a business coupe, a rumble seat
coupe, and a convertible coupe with rumble seat. Early in April two
additions were added to the deluxe line, both built on an extended 128"
wheelbase. The long wheelbase 5 passenger sedan was called the Traveler
Sedan while a version of it equipped with auxiliary lump seats was
called a 7 passenger sedan. Oddly enough, the two 128" versions were
built on two different body styles. The Traveler Sedan was a stretched
version of the Touring Sedan, sporting a built in trunk at the rear but
the 7- passenger sedan was built on a stretch version of the fastback
body style. Overall length of these cars was 200" in comparison to the
normal sedans 188". Regular coupes and the convertible were another 2"
longer.

A third "mini-series" was offered briefly but it was soon
discontinued after only 837 cars were produced. Called the PJ Six, it
was a slightly upgraded version of the Business model. The only
noticeable difference between it and the regular business line was that
the hood received the deluxe chrome trim of 3 chromed bars with 5
circles behind it. Headlamps remained painted like the business line
however. The majority of these cars were Canadian built (805 built at
Windsor compared to only 32 at the Detroit plant).

Engineering the 1935 Plymouth cars

trunk.jpg
Plymouth engineers and designers literally started with a clean
sheet of paper with the PJ. Starting with the frame the engineering
group retained the X type frame used in years past but improved it. The
frame was of the "double drop" type, so called because it had a kick-up
at both the front and rear for the suspension to "travel" in. It also
allowed the center section to be lower so the body could be mounted
lower not only for better looks but for directional stability as well.
The frame consisted of two pieces riveted together--the X-type center
section was riveted to the outer walls. The forward ends of the center
section formed a box section with the side walls and these were riveted
both top and bottom. By making a box section in this manner the
engineers achieved a stronger frame to withstand twist and torsional
stress in use. In addition the body was now mounted using 46 mounting
points, rather than the normal 16 or 18 mounts. Body bolts ran both
horizontally and vertically on the outer frame walls and vertically on
the center. It was referred to as "Unit Frame & Body" construction.

The
now 3 year old 6-cylinder engine underwent some major changes as well
although it retained its basic dimensions, both externally and
internally. Tests in the engineering labs had shown that the rear
cylinders of the engine were not cooling as much as the front cylinders
so the block was redesigned to provide full length water jacketing the
entire length of travel of the pistons. In addition a water
distribution tube was installed in the block so the water pump would
force cool water to the rearmost cylinders, and especially to the
exhaust valve seat areas. This the engineers referred to as
"directional cooling."

1935-engine.jpg
water.jpg

ignition.jpg
Despite these improvements to the cylinder block it retained the
same exterior dimensions as the previous engines with one exception.
Because of the new fully jacketed water system the started had to be
moved outboard about a quarter inch on the bell housing. This change
prevented the 1935 block with bell housing from being a bolt for bolt
swap into an earlier car. In the same respect after 1935 there were no
exterior dimensional changes and all engines produced until the flat
head six was discontinued in late 1959 would swap bolt for bolt into
cars back to the '35 model. Engine compression rose to 6.7 as a result
of cylinder head changes and thermostatic control was provided all
Plymouth engines, the Deluxe getting a bypass type thermostat while the
Business series received a choke-type thermostat. Spark knock was
eliminated by the addition of a vacuum controlled distributor, with
vacuum supplied from the engine's intake manifold.

Its operation was entirely automatic. The crankshaft rotated in
four main bearings and the connecting rods were of the removable type.
Each piston contained 4 rings, two to seal compression and two to
control consumption. In an effort to cut down on under hood noise the
fan blade was redesigned and the blades were staggered in a manner to
cut down on noise but to not reduce efficiency.

Fuel was fed the
engine thru a down draft carburetor supplied by a fuel pump mounted low
on the engines right side. The 15 gallon fuel tank was mounted at the
rear of the frame and the fuel lines were mounted outside the frame so
engine heat would not cause vapor lock. Most cars were equipped with a
carburetor and manifold 11/.." in diameter, but an "economy" package
could be had at no charge that had a special intake manifold and 1"
diameter carburetor. When so equipped the engine developed only 65
horsepower and the car was equipped with a 3.7 to 1 differential.
Normal PJ models had a rear end ratio of 4.125 to 1.

The entire
engine received fuel pressure lubrication (at 35 lbs. psi) and deluxe
models were standard equipped with an oil filter. In addition the
crankcase was ventilated by drawing in fresh air thru the oil filler
cap and existing harmful fumes thru the crankcase breather pipe located
at the rear of the block. Exhaust valves also received removable seat
inserts to cut down on wear and to eliminate the need for early valve
regrinds. The engine was mounted in Plymouth's famous "Floating Power"
engine mounts which allowed the engine to absorb its own vibrations by
being mounted in rubber on the axis line of its own weight.

floating-power.jpg


Next
in line for the engineers was the clutch plate. Heat buildup was the
major cause of clutch failure so Plymouth engineers devised a system of
air inlet and exhaust ports in the clutch housing. Using the natural
vacuum created by the whirling clutch plate, air was drawn in through a
screen mounted on the side of the bell housing. After cooling the
newly enlarged clutch plate, the
air was forced out at the top of the housing behind the block.
approximately 600 cubic feet of air was circulated each minute. Clutch
pedal pressure was also reduced by approximately 30 percent.

spare.jpg
An entirely new transmission of the silent- synchro type was
next. One of the main points of difference in this new transmission was
the addition of a synchronizing device between third and second gears,
which eliminated the clashing of gears while down shifting. All gears
were of the helical (angle cut) type and ball or roller bearings were
used extensively throughout. Power was transmitted entirely on these
bearings with the exception of the reverse idler gear. The out put,
too, was mounted n a large ball bearing. Inside the universal joints
costly roller bearing were utilized for longer life and wear.

The differential did not get overlooked by the
engineering department and two important changes were made there. The
outer ends of the axle housing were made heavier and more rigid to
insure positive alignment for quiet, durable operation. Bronze thrust
washers also utilized in the differential case to eliminate wear which
might cause play in the gears or back lash. The '35 Plymouth utilized a
total of 28 roll or ball bearings in the drive train construction,
eight of them alone in the rear axle assembly.

After pioneering independent front suspension in the low priced
field in 1934, Plymouth mysteriously (and quietly) abandoned the system
for 1935.

Equally mysteriously, Plymouth's sister car, the DeSoto,
introduced its first independent front suspension system with the 1935
models. Plymouth and DeSoto shared the same production
facilities at the Detroit Lynch Road assembly plant!

As
a direct result of the Airflow research program, in which a vehicle's
own weight was more evenly distributed, Plymouth engineers moved the
engine forward about 8 inches and returned to a tube type front axle.
Front and rear springs were both of the semi-elliptical type and spring
rates were adjusted so a balanced weight was achieved with the center
of gravity reaching a point near the center of the car. Engineering
claimed these changes would improve the ride and stability of the car,
eliminating the "tall wagging the dog" type of handling. Springs
received major attention as a new design was implemented. Spring ends
were tapered and each spring leave was made of narrower material
(called 'Mola' steel) and more leaves were utilized. The Deluxe PJ
received 10 leaves on the front springs, with 9 leaves on the rear. The
Business series had only 7 leaves on both front and rear springs. A
front stabilizer on the deluxe series aided in side sway control. As in
the past the steering was of the cross-steering type, where the
steering arm and drag link ran parallel to the front axel, rather than
parallel to the frame. By this method vibrational movement of the front
wheels was not transmitted through the steering column to the driver.

1935-frame.gif
1935-balance.gif


1935-suspension.jpg

Satisfied
that everything had been taken care of on the mechanical end a newly
designed body was next in order. Briggs supplied the bodies again for
1935 and of course, they were of all steel construction with a partial
exception in the commercial sedan.

1935-interior-plymouth.jpg
Fenders took on a more "pontoon" look and curved gently downward
rather than flowing towards the rear of the car as in years past. The
radiator shell was more rounded and the windshield and header area was
slanted rearward to achieve less wind resistance on the open road. The
rear quarter panels were also rounded more and on fastback models the
rear panel sloped gently toward the ground. Touring sedan models had a
slightly shorter passenger compartment and the rear window was more
vertical to make room for the bustle type trunk built in at the rear of
the body. The deck lid on, these models had exposed chrome plated
hinges and two chromed latches to keep the lid closed. Bumpers were
rather massive and protruded through the front fenders from their own
pods where the brackets bolted directly to the frame. Mounted to the
radiator shell was a sailing ship ornament that matched the design of
the '34 ship but the mounting was much longer and heavier. Like the'34
ship, it, too, was fragile and the forward sail and mast tops were
easily broken off. The ornament was a $3.50 option installed at the
factory on nearly all cars.

There was no body chrome other than bumpers, hubcaps, door handles,
hood trim and the radiator ship. The new Plymouth bodies for 1935 were
mounted lower and directly over the frame with the frame contours
following the contours of the body with no overhang anywhere. The PJ
was the first Plymouth not to be fitted with splash panels between the
body and the running boards.

The spare tire rode in a metal cover at the rear on deluxe fastback
models and in the trunk on touring sedan models in a compartment
beneath the luggage compartment. When the cars were equipped with side
mount fenders either right or left hand were available the luggage
compartment space was increased on touring sedan models. Business
series cars with externally mounted spares at the rear received a
fabric cover.

Bumpers, bumper guards, spare tire, tube and a tire cover were
optional items in 1935. The entire package for a regular Deluxe sedan
cost the 1935 buyer $33 over the base price of the car. Touring sedan
models that didn't have a tire cover cost the buyer only $26.50.

windshield.jpg
The
new bodies were thoroughly insulated for comfort and to prevent noise.
A new ventilation system was also introduced, eliminating the
complicated (but practical) disappearing vent window system used on the
1934 PE models. In addition to a screened ventilator on the cowl the
front windows opened in two directions, much like the 1934 Ford system.
Winding the window handle part way the front windows moved rearward
several inches opening a slit in what would be the vent window area for
limited ventilation. Continue winding on the handle and the window,
after reaching it rear- wardmost point, would then lower into the door.
Rear windows lowered completely but did not have the "venting" feature
and rear quarter windows on sedan models lowered partially.

As was common practice in automobile design at the time, the front
windshield cranked out for added summer ventilation. Duplate safety
glass was used in the windshield of all models and was available at
extra cost in all other windows. Only the convertible coupe came
standard equipped with Duplate glass throughout.

inside.jpg
Fenders and sheetmetal received a treatment called Bonderizing to
prevent rust, while the body went through a process called Parcolite to
achieve the same objectives. All nuts, bolts and washers used in the
construction of the car also went though a slmiliar process called
Parkerizing.

Interiors of both series were upholstered in Bedford Cord with
Mohair optional on the Deluxe models. The convertible coupe was
upholstered in hand buffed Colonial grain leather with the rumble seat
was finished in a Moleskin leather. The Westchester Suburban was
covered with heavy brown Spanish imitation leather.

gauges.jpg
Insturment panels were painted a tan enamel finish on all Business
models while the Deluxe models were graced with a polished walnut
finish. Insturments were described as the "airplane" type and consisted
of a speedomeer in one dial, and the oil, amp, gas and temperature
gauge in a second matching dial mounted directly in front of the
driver. An ash tray occupied the center of the dash on all models and a
large glove compartment was on the right side of the panel. The Deluxe
models had the dimmer switch mounted on the floor board but the
Business series dimmer switch was controlled by the switch on the dash
panel.

Interior hardware of the Deluxe models was of bright nickle finish
with the windshield knob, window handle knobs, and horn button in
antique ivory. On the business series these were either nickel plated
entirely and the horn button was black. Four door sedans all had an ash
receiver in the center of the front seat back and Deluxe sedans had
assist straps installed, as well as a rear window curtain (except on
the business coupe, two door sedan and convertible bodies). All models
had a rubber front floor mat with a carpet in the rear floor.

steel.jpg
A common problem on many autos, even into the "modern" age, was that
of the back seat passengers freezing to death in cold weather while
those in the front sweltered in the direct blast of the heaters. For
1935 Plymouth engineers provided a passage under the front seat whereby
air drawn in from the ventilator would be circulated thru this passage
to the back. Cool air or warm air from the heaters would circulate into
the back as well.

Allpar note: Brakes continued to be a point of pride with Plymouth; the equivalent Ford still had mechanical brakes. (We have a Ford brochure from 1936, and the only piece of information in it appears to be that Ford had a V-8. No horsepower or gas mileage ratings are given; the Ford V-8 actually put out about the same power as the much cheaper, less complicated, more economical Plymouth Six!)

brakes.jpg


U.S. Body & Forging of Buffalo, New York supplied the bodies for
the Westchester Suburban station wagon. Only 119 were built at the USBF
plant in Tell City, Indiana. The Plymouth factory shipped in bare
chassis, fenders and hood to USBF and they assembled the car from
there. The bare chassis sold for $415 while the body sold for $350. The
completed Suburbans were delivered back to Plymouth who then
distributed them to the selling dealer.

The Suburban was rated as a 7 or 8 passenger vehicle and came
equipped with three sets of seats, the last two sets of which were
removable for the hauling of cargo. The Suburban came with glass in
the windshield only while the rest of the openings were covered with
storm curtains which could be removed and stored in a concealed pocket
underneath the rear tonneau seat. The Suburban, as well as all the
other PJ models, rode on a 113" wheelbase chassis one inch shorter than
the previous years models (except for the 128" wheelbase Traveler 5 and
7-passenger sedans). Wheel and tire size was 5.25x17" on the PJ
Business line while the Deluxe rode on 6.00x16's.

The commercial sedan was built using a derivative of the two door
fastback sedan body. The car was designed to be an economically priced
business car for the man who could not afford both a personal passenger
car and a business car. A rear door was cut in back of the body and the
interior consisted of only front seats and side panels. Two removable
wood floor boards covered the rear floor area and snap in "advertising"
panels fit into the rear windows. The rear door was of composite con-
struction, metal over a wooden frame. The idea behind the car was for
it to be a two fold vehicle. The small businessman could buy it for his
business and use it during the week as such. It was designed also so
the owner could take out the window panels, remove the floor panels and
install a regular back seat (which was available optionally) so he
could use the car on Sunday or whenever as a family passenger car! The
spare tire was mounted in the right front fender as there was no other
place for it with this body style. Either way, as a business vehicle or
as a passenger vehicle, it was an attractive unit. It was Plymouth's
first "panel delivery" but sales were not impressive, with only 1,142
units sold.

Accessory Group AD for the Deluxe series consisted of dual chrome
exterior horns, an auxiliary talilamp, windshield wiper and interior
sun visor as well as a cigar lighter. The price was $18.50. The same
accessory group for the PJ Business series included the same items plus
chrome headlamps and sold for $23. This was sold as accessory group AS.

An oil bath air cleaner commanded $2.50 while Duplate glass cost an
additional $7.50 on coupe models and $10 on sedan models in both
series. A factory installed Philco Transitone radio cost the buyer an
additional $44.95, not much in todays money but adding nearly 9 percent
to the cost of a Business series business coupe. All closed models were
wired for a radio antennea, the wire mesh in the cloth roof serving
this purpose. Metal spare tire covers for the business series
catalogued for $6.50 (the fabric cover cost only $2) and a trunk rack
cost the buyer $16.50. A single right sidemount fender only cost $5.75
while dual sidemount fenders sold for $39.50. By 1935, sidemount
fenders were fast going out of style and few cars remain today that are
so equipped. As they were sold as accessories there is no way of
knowing how many cars were equipped with either single or dual
sidemount fenders. A right sidemount was standard equipment on both the
Westchester Suburban wagon and on the Commercial Sedan.

1930s-squads.jpg


New facilities

With the continual growth Plymouth had experienced since its
inception in 1928, it became apparent that more production facilities
would be needed. A massive expansion program was undertaken during 1935 to meet the
increasing demand for Plymouth automobiles. Four additions were
undertaken on the main Detroit plant, increasing its floor space by
100,000 square feet--and it was already the largest automobile
manufacturing plant in the world. Construction also began on a
completely new plant located in Evansville. This facility was not
completed in time to see any 1935 models built but by October of 1935
production had begun on the new models for 1936.

A Comparison of the New 1935 Plymouth with the New 1935 Ford four door sedans

Ford wins on price...and only on price. No independent emergency
brake. No oil filter. No ventilated clutch. Noisy gears. Crude
suspension and brakes. And on and on...

Plymouth DeLuxeFeatureFord DeLuxe
$660Price$635
113"Wheelbase112"
HydraulicBrakesMechanical
4 semi-ellipticSprings2 transverse
Floating PowerEngine mountsConventional rubber
YesDirectional CoolingNo
Bypass thermostatWater circulation controlConventional thermostat
18.2:1Steering gear ratio15:1
4-2.4"Number of main bearings and diameter3-2"
Silent chainCamshaft driveGears only
YesManifold heat controlNo
YesEngine oil filter (!)No
YesVentilated clutchNo
All gears quietTransmissionQuiet second gear only
YesSway eliminatorNo
TubularFront axleI-beam
Double tapered rollerRear wheel bearingsSingle straight roller
Roller bearingUniversal jointsBushings
Independent on driveshaftHandbrakeSame as service brakes
Improved six cylinder economyEngine economyComplicated V-8 engine (horsepower similar to Plymouth Six)

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