The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

By KENNETH HALL – Motoring Tampa Bay correspondent
Following the end of World War II, American automobile manufacturers were slow to return to full production and significant yearly innovations. The new models produced during the first years after the war varied little from the pre-war models. That actually worked to the advantage of Chrysler since its reputation for building comfortable and durable family cars was what the public was looking for. Between 1946 and 1948, Chrysler built more than 2.2 million vehicles, which was 400,000 more than Ford, and many of those cars are still around.
 Charles Conover, of Sun City, was at a car show in Ocala about eight years ago where he saw a 1948 Chrysler P15 Custom Deluxe convertible. The car had a for-sale sign on it, and since Conover liked the car, he bought it in spite of its flaws.
“The guy I bought it from did not do the original restoration on the car. That was done by a guy somewhere in Tennessee,” Conover says. “It was in bad shape. The rocker panel moldings were attached with sheet metal screws and the car had both metric and imperial fittings. It had Lexus bucket seats, which were so wide the doors would hardly close. Almost everything about the car had faults. And I wound up rebuilding everything.”
The 1948 Plymouth convertible is a rare car, according to Conover, who says “Chrysler did not build Dodge or Plymouth convertibles in 1946, 1947 or 1948. They sent the cars out to a body shop to have them modified. My P15 was originally a business coupe before it was modified into a convertible. There are probably fewer than 200 P15 convertibles left in the world.”
Conover and his three good buddies did the restoration work, transforming the flawed Plymouth into the head-turning car it is today.
“I installed a new chrome master cylinder and master cylinder booster, a new vintage air conditioner and a new alternator,” Conover explains. “I took out the front end and installed a Mustang II front end with 11-inch disc brakes. The A arms on a Mustang II front end are about 1¼-inch in diameter, so they are very heavy duty. The 9-inch rear end is from a Ford F150, with 11-inch drum brakes and new Posie leaf springs.”
The 1948 Plymouth is driven by a small block Chevrolet 350 cubic-inch engine with a TH 350 transmission with a neutral safety switch. The motor produces considerably more power than the inline six-cylinder L-head 217 cubic-inch engine the car came with in 1948.
“Everything in the engine compartment is heavily chromed, from the exhaust headers to the valve covers and intake manifold,” Conover adds.
Much of the 1948 P15 has been retrofitted with modern technology, including power brakes, power steering, power door locks, power windows and a power top.
“The top is very heavy duty, with a tan outer layer, a black headliner and a layer of insulation in between,” Conover explains. “It was a beast to raise and lower it manually, which is why I installed the power top.”
The interior fits the overall look of the vehicle, yet with power bucket seats and a center console from a Chrysler Sebring, new Dolphin gauges and a modern sound system, it is a far cry from the Spartan passenger compartment of 1948.
“Both doors and the trunk feature the Plymouth sailing ship symbol embossed into the faux leather panels,” Conover says. “It is a very comfortable car to ride in. We drive everywhere in that car and can go 75 to 80 mph on the interstate. The car is very safe because of all the modifications on it. It is a lot of fun to drive, and it attracts plenty of attention because it is such a rare and unique car.”

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