Original a 4 door Sedan sold in the suburbs of New York, nothing is known of its early years but according to Plymouth Owners Club Inc. records it was known to be in California. In 1986 a Texan contacted the club trying to find out it’s history because it was now a Pick-up truck.
1934 PE Pickup now in the UK
Where do we start because an awful lot of work was done between what is documented and what we now have. Life began in the Detroit plant early 34 as a 4 Door Sedan, we know it’s an early build by the one piece Rad Shell and the small ø Kingpins. We have a Bill of sale dated 12/22/39 from Revere Motor Sales, Hampstead, NY for $170, then there is a gap of 40 yrs.
From a 1986 Allpar article written by the POC inc. Treasurer/Secretary refers to a phone conversation prior to this date with Sherwood Kahlenberg of the WPC Club about a 1934 Plymouth Pickup in California and he would send photos, Jim voiced his opinion about no such thing and the follows it up with “ long since learned not to make too many hasty remarks about anything in the automotive world”. Time past with no photos arriving, but in June 86 he met Sherwood at the Chelsea Proving Grounds and reminded him and it wasn’t long before the photos arrived. About the same time another letter arrived from Don Bunn with photocopies of a letter to the editor in Street Rodder Jounal Sept86 Vol15 #9 for information about another Pickup.
Jim replied to the letter asking for more information on this pickup which was in Texas and on receipt from the Texan owner it was apparent that in fact it was the very same PE Pickup Truck. In the allpar article JB mentions the fact that how did that get from CA to TX, well I may be able to help there, the first photo I saw was on FB with an ‘A’ frame with the remains of a ball coupling and the Drag link from the steering arm disconnected.
Not so much happened to the truck during the 28 yrs it sat in Texas, it was sand blasted, given a coat of red oxide and disassembled but apart from that it looked very much like the early photos that were sent to Jim.
Roll forward to mid May 2014 :-
Randy Johnson of Austin TX had passed and his widow Christine had given the process of disposing of the truck to her son Max who is a member of our FaceBook page, not sure which came first, if Max contacted Jim or the Fore Sale photo came on the FB page . Always looking for something a little different with a fair amount of work involved it took my attention. Off went an email to Jim asking him what he thought valuation wise shipping etc. got to say Jim’s response was very grounding, concerned about condition, the amount of work involved, what it required, shipping cost and also the fact that it was part of someone’s estate.
Back and forth it went with Max and myself because we all know photos tell lies so a set of pics would come through and I would then want to see the same thing from a different angle, I will add that I was already working on a 1933 PD R/S Coupe RHD which had both advantages that they were both from the same era but comparing a car to a truck with totally different front suspension did create doubt as well. How do you put a price on something that never went into production, the only thing I could compare it with were the 33/34 Dodge KC Pickups but most were already restored or converted to Hot Rods so in the end the ball was back in Max’s court and a month after first seeing the ad we agreed a price that he felt comfortable with to approach his mother and she accepted.
Now came the search for parts , from what I had found within reason twenty foot of the container was mine for the trip to the UK weight is not a problem, as long as it can be sensibly loaded and strapped down it’s good to go. Fortunately I have a professional car restorer friend of over ten yrs. in TN with plenty of space and he offered to receive parts that I had found, crate them and arrange their carriage to port. I had started a post on the forum webpage requesting parts which Doran J had answered, while at a show he was parked on the field along side an Alabama oil baron (my term not Doran’s) during discussions it came up that the gentleman from AB had a rebuilt 34 Plymouth engine that was destine for a 34 Dodge but had been abandoned when a Dodge engine came available and would Doran be interested in a spare, contact details were exchanged and responded to my thread. My contact in TN combined the trip to AB with the possibility of gaining future work from the oil man On arrival my friend was taken to the showroom, air-conditioned display of over 100 restored vintage autos, have never heard if any work came out of the visit but I had a good amount of the parts I needed, not cheap but most ready to fit. What did come out of my friends trip south was a lead to a company in Nashville that have 22 Chrysler cars restored with a 20K sq foot warehouse and a commitment to build a $6million restoration shop, unfortunately the owner didn’t get to see his dream to fruition but I understand his wife has carried the business forward.
We were given a date of 15th August to have the truck removed from Mrs Johnson’s property which in it’s self wasn’t a problem but there was a crate to fill with parts we didn’t have and once in Houston the shippers wanted it in a container and gone. What transpired was outside storage at the freight forwarding company for two months, numerous emails back and forth all sorts of plans which didn’t materialise, restorations to concourse events but we got there. This crate was 4’x4’x5’ Got to say it was easy for me pushing emails about but still stressful, at time not knowing what was happening. Having a name in the shipping office in Houston was one of the best parts of the operation, several unpleasant emails got forwarded to him, he would just reply leave it with me and it worked.
Did have a hick-up after the truck had been delivered, all through the negotiations with Max an extensive history file was spoken about, there was a steel stowage box bolted to the bed floor, I had mentioned to Max to put a padlock on the box with the documents inside. Well I didn’t know that you do things slightly different to us, The history file was sent to Houston by secure mail, they would then go to ship and then off-loaded at the port of entry, mine went to Germany.
Within the history file is all the early months while in Randy’s procession, several photos of what it was like when he came by it, at the shot blast and a pile of parts, several letters from Jim typed on the 4-6 headed paper, the late Ed Peterson was very involved in trying to trace it’s previous life, showed an interest in purchasing it should it come available but sadly passed 6 month before Randy. Lots of letters in response of his Street Rodders letter and the copy of that Journal with the letter in it, bit and pieces from Plugs N Points including an excellent writeup from JB on Plymouth Pick-ups back to a 29 model U.
So what did I buy. The ship sailed end October14 going up the east coast collecting more containers on the way, landing at Southampton UK 2nd December and after clearing customs arrived at my workshop 8th. The WB is 114” with the unique independent front suspension fitted to the PE (PF 108”)and the Dodge DR range on the 117” WB. To the cowl is genuine PE then things start to get cloudy, the curve across the top of the cowl is different to the Hood by 1 ¼” at the centre hinge, I am of the opinion that the cab is 1933/34 Dodge 1 ½ ton this is because there are no fixing brackets forward of the firewall. Dashboard for so unknown reason is 1935 Buick, the screen aperture is the same width as my PD but ¾” taller, Doors are the same as the PD be-it narrower due to the 33 being a Coupe. The bed and rear fenders are 1937/8 PT50 with 6” cut of the front of the bed sides, under the bed the rear axle has 12” drums with 3 ½” added to the width of a 34 rear that came in the crate of parts, probably because a different trans had been fitted the E Brake had been bolted to the outer casing of the diff.
This is the Plan. My aim is to put everything back as if Plymouth actually produced a PE Pick-up, to date the Chassis/Frame has been repaired ( forgot to mention that holes had been cut into the cross members supposedly to take twin pipes from a larger engine)In part 2 the cowl will be changed to fit the top curve of the hood, the dash will go back to PE as will the rear fenders.