By on March 10, 2012

Sixty years ago, a film called “River of No Return” was filmed in Jasper National Park Alberta Canada. The two stars of the movie were Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum.

To state that they were huge Hollywood names at the time is obvious – what’s less obvious is how they transported Hollywood royalty to and from locations on the film.

Carl Spreen has the answer – more precisely he owns the answer – a 1951 Dodge Limousine custom built for the Jasper Park Lodge. They required the panoramic roof windows to accentuate the incredible mountain views.

That history didn’t matter to Carl back in 1965 when he bought this rare piece of custom coach history for 50 dollars.

His buddy had purchased the big Dodge at an auction. It was clearly an impulse buy, so he asked Carl: “Do you want to buy a car? I don’t know what to with it”. Carl wasn’t sure about that either but he paid the fifty bucks and almost made it home. He was within a half mile of his home when the old flathead gave up.

Carl wasn’t intimidated by this. He towed the Dodge home, jacked it up, put it on blocks and used the tires on his Ford truck wheels and all for 4 years. That alone was worth the 50 dollar asking price.

For 12 years, Carl pondered the fate of this giant Dodge – money restraints were his biggest factor but he did store it properly. As a result, the semi-famous car fared well over the years. Carl said, “there wasn’t any damage from an accident but there were some places that were rusted through”.

He found an “out of work body guy” and that made it affordable to put this classic back to its former glamorous state. Carl recognized at the time that this car was something special – that’s why he kept it.

Carl has truly enjoyed the car and he respects its glorious past. He knows that royalty and far more Hollywood names have ridden in the Dodge, but he prefers to name only the documented stars like Monroe and Mitchum.

Since Carl owned the car, very few people have had the privilege of riding in this classic – it was featured as a wedding car for his daughter, but generally the list of documented passengers has been very short since 1965.

Carl has run into health problems in the last few years and driving it is not an option. But he does report that when he could drive it, the big car rode like a dream at 50 miles per hour on the highway.

Carl gets satisfaction out of the car by trailering it to shows and answering the million questions that come up including the big ones about its famous past.

For more of J Sutherland’s work go to mystarcollectorcar.com

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12 Comments on “Car Collector’s Corner: 1952 Dodge Limo – Good Enough For Marilyn Monroe And Robert Mitchum...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I wonder what the old car is worth now?

    I’m hoping that flathead is a flathead 8 with all that mass to move around.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    My Father had its twin sitting for 15 years. Unrestored, but in very good original condition, the car brought $8000. With no rust. If memory serves, it had a 6 cylinder engine with that weird Fluid Drive clutch. I believe he sold it in about 2001, so today, who knows what its ACV has become. Early fifties Chrysler Co. autos never did anything for me, but neither did anything made until 1955. Except for the Rocket Oldsmobiles with their nailhead.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Dodges were sixes only in those days. There was a straight 8 for a couple of years in the early 1930′s, but the first V8 showed up in 1953, the smallest of Chrysler’s hemi V8′s.

  • avatar

    This one had a larger truck flathead six in it.

  • avatar

    Jim, I Like your articles and the website but what’s the point in writing Jasper Alberta, CANADA, especially since you’re (I think) a Canadian as well?
    I assume it’s done for the benefit of the American reader but I find most of the readership here at TTAC to be pretty smart and open minded and don’t really need to be reminded that Alberta or any other province lies north of the 49th parallel.
    Not a criticism, just an observation.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Canada, America’s Hat.

  • avatar
    Shipwright

    Helping to keep you warm with our oil.

    NOTE: THIS IS SAID MERELY IN FUN.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    If Mitchum was in it there is a good chance is reeks of weed.

  • avatar
    dgst

    Are there – or,were there several of these cars around southern Alberta? I lived in Lethbridge in the mid 50′s. My buddy’s father who lived across the street had a connection with a large Calgary dealership and would regularly purchase a recent trade, clean it up in his garage and sell it. His name was John Walker. One day he proudly showed me “Marilyn Monroe’s Limosine”. I seem to remember that it was black. I don’t recall the suicide doors, but I distinctly remember the glass roof, and that it was long and elegant. I wonder if Mr. Spreen has any record of his car in the ten years prior to his buying it. Could it be the same one I remember?


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