MIGHTY MOPAR – ROD BOWMAN 1934 PLYMOUTH TUDOR

The Plymouth marque was introduced in July 1928 as Chrysler’s first entry into the budget priced American car market. By 1934 Plymouth was a respected brand, still a little dearer than Ford and Chevrolet but for the extra few bucks you got independent front suspension along with Plymouth’s all steel body, hydraulic brakes and countless other features. On August 8th that year the one millionth Plymouth rolled from the assembly lines with Walter Chrysler on hand for the festivities.

Meanwhile in Australia, this 1934 Plymouth was born as a four door sedan, spent a hard life travelling Queensland’s back roads and used as target practice before ending up under a house in Kilcoy, beat but complete. That’s where Rod Bowman from Bundaberg found it. Rod already had a 33 Ford sedan project underway and was in search of parts when he was given a lead.

“I rang the number, it turned out it was a Plymouth, not a Ford. Turns out the guy was moving house and couldn’t take it with him. I took my son (age 12 at the time) and a tandem trailer in case I liked it. I bought it for $1,500.”

Despite about two dozen bullet holes including a few through the grille, the Plymouth was a solid and complete car. Having little use for the original running gear, he donated it off to the local vintage car club, mentioning something about not enough power. The chassis was in great condition so it was retained. Rod also points out that this is a Deluxe model so its wheelbase is six inches longer than a standard ’34 Plymouth and about 2” more than the equivalent Ford or Chev.

Rod did about 70% of the work himself, farming out the important stuff to specialists. There’s a bunch of major body mods, namely the 3 ½” chop, widening the rear guards and the conversion from four doors to two, suicide style of course. Most of the styling cues came from photos from the internet and old fashioned eye-balling. “We’d make a cut, tack it, then sit back with a Bundy and Coke and look at it,” explained Rod. We don’t know how many Bundy and Cokes it took but we reckon it was just enough.

When it came to the power train Rod turned to his mate ‘Mopar’ Mick McDonald for a tough but driveable Chrysler small block. Mick raided his stash for the basis of what was a 360, now out to 408 cubes. His years of experience with performance Chrysler motors helped to create a streetable 500+ hp, 420 hp at the rear wheels to be precise thanks to a recent run on the dyno. “It spun the wheels at 6,500 on the dyno,” said Rod, excited about testing it over the quarter mile at Benaraby or Willowbank when the time arises. 

Rod is very pleased with the interior trim by Kev’s Customs and gets positive feedback on it all of the time. “I told him roughly what I wanted, then he went away and did some sketches of the design. People are gob smacked when they see it, it’s a lovely job.” We like the roof console hinged for easy access, the Mopar-branded gauges and the original Plymouth brass badge on the dash. “The speedo is 160mph, not kph,” he adds…

Rod finished the Plymouth in time for the ASRF Street Rod Nationals at Parklands last Easter and it attracted quite a bit of attention when parked in the show. “A lot of people appreciate seeing something a little different. When I bought the car 12 years ago, everything was either Ford or Chev,” he recalls. You can tell by talking to Rod that he’s glad he started the project, and even happier now that it’s done.

“A big thanks to my long-suffering wife Carolyn, plus all my mates and Rum City Rods & Customs members that helped along the way. Also to Tony Chapman for the use of his headland for the photos!”

Rod actually has two tudors in the garage, the Plymouth and a ’34 Chevy which he bought as an unfinished project, completing it before finishing the Plymouth. “I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened” he assures us. His biggest problem now is that with two finished cars, he doesn’t have anything to keep him busy in the shed.

BY GAVIN KELSO, PHOTOS BY BRETT HENDERSON. FULL FEATURE CRUZIN MAGAZINE #160.

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