Curbside Classic New Year's Greetings From San Francisco Edition: 1958 Plymouth

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
curbside classic new year s greetings from san francisco edition 1958 plymouth

I could spend three life-times finding Curbside Classics on the streets of San Francisco. Last time here, before I started this series, I found a running Fiat 600 Multipla parked on the street. Does that give you a fair idea of the potential? On the other hand, I get annoyed by the city’s traffic and parking, so I don’t spend anymore time then necessary there. But on New Year’s Eve morning, we bopped into an almost dead town for some time at Fort Mason and the waterfront. I wasn’t really looking to shoot anything, but then there it was, sitting in front of a purple building. For a moment, I thought I might have found a very elusive ’57 model, but until that appears somewhere, this ’58 will do, quite well.

I’ll be honest: I don’t have the time to do a proper write-up on the groundbreaking ’57 predecessor to this car right now, while my hosts sit in the other room and dinner is almost ready. So it’s just as well that its a ’58; we’ll save it for later, and just dig this bat-winged wonder.

The basic story is pretty well known: Chrysler was getting hurt in the early fifties for its stodgy, boxy styling. They hired the flamboyant Virgil Exner to turn things around, which started to come to fruition with the ’55 models and, and hit its zenith with the “Suddenly It’s 1960” models for ’57. These were radically low, long and wide for their time, and caught GM with their pants down. The illustrious ’59 GM models are a direct response to Exner’s ’57s.

Chrysler suffered the same fate in ’57 that Studebaker did in 1953 with its radical new cars: abysmal build quality. The ’57s were notorious leakers, from all quarters. Rust followed in short order. Chrysler’s long-cultivated rep for superior build quality was washed away.

The ’58s were a distinct improvement, but sales took a huge hit, a combination of the problematic ’57s and the recession of 1958. Chrysler suffered for years, until its (short lived) renaissance in the mid-late sixties.

Dinner is almost ready, and I need to load up these pictures; so maybe some of you will fill in any details I left out. But I needed to share this bitching Plymouth stat; so here it is, and a Happy New Year of Curbside Classicking with you all! Your comments and support are my inspiration; thank you for helping me to have the funnest year in a long time. I’m the luckiest guy around: I get to live out my childhood fantasy of gazing at old cars and ruminating on them. Thank you all, and I’ve got even more goodies in store for 2010!

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3 of 35 comments
  • Mdh5169 Mdh5169 on Apr 11, 2011

    It has since been painted. It ia all original with only 85K original miles. It is a numbers matching car. How do I know all this...I just bought this car over the weekend. I am planning to clean up and redo the interior as well as some minor mechanical. Long term who knows.... I think these cars are either "love it or hate it". Personally ever since I watched "Christine" I can't get enough of them and am happy to own this one.

  • Mdh5169 Mdh5169 on Mar 26, 2012

    Well its been about a year so I thought I would update. Still have the car. It's had the bumpers straightened and rechromed. The interior has been completely done. New cocker wide white walls and suspension work. Everything on the car works and its nice driver/weekend show quality. Out of all my toys this one seems to get the most attention and compliments... If I could download some pics I would but don't see any option too. I absolutely love this car and could never see selling it! Gotta love the classics!!

    • Jim Sutherland Jim Sutherland on Mar 26, 2012

      If you are interested,we would like to do a story on your car. We can be reached at The Exner fin cars are not plentiful and are always interesting stories.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys for that money, it had better be built by people listening to ABBA
  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?