Looking Back: 1938 Plymouth 1/2-ton Express Pickup
Page:  
Years ago I had the fortune – or misfortune – of being the editor of Old Cars Price Guide. On one Thursday in November, the phone rang. I know it was a Thursday because it was Thanksgiving. I was home relaxing on the holiday when I took the call. It was from a hunter in the middle of the woods, talking on his cell phone. It seems he had found the battered remains of an old Plymouth pickup truck sitting deep in the forest. Since he had never heard of a Plymouth truck, he thought he had stumbled over a $1 million hunk of iron.
The caller could certainly have waited another day to call, as his discovery was not worth as much as he thought. Plymouth made commercial models from 1935-1941 and managed to crank out thousands per year. They are not exactly as rare and valuable as a Duesenberg. However, now that the Mayflower brand has gone the way of the Dodo bird, serious truck collectors are starting to look for remaining examples in earnest and collector prices are at least headed in the right direction – for sellers, that is.
The 1938 Plymouth ½-ton pickup seen here is one that owner Vernon Meyer brought to the 1999 Iola Old Car Show. It was a part of Plymouth’s PT57 commercial line for that year. That series also included a chassis-and-cab configuration for $560 and a car-based Commercial Sedan priced at $695.
Since 1938 marked Plymouth’s 10th Anniversary as an automaker, the cars and trucks built that year were sometimes referred to as Jubilee editions. They could be identified by their new vertical grille which was adopted from the passenger car. However, other front end sheet metal was unique to the truck.
The pickup trucks listed for $585, just $25 more than the bare chassis-and-cab. Is there anyone reading this story who thinks they could build a pickup box today for $25? In fact, that price seems like it would have been a bargain even in 1938.
Plymouth trucks were available in any of six standard body colors, although it was common to paint the running gear black. If you wanted the fenders, fender aprons, sills and running boards to match the rest of the truck in color, you had to pay a little more. Since car buyers in the years following the Depression weren’t anxious to part with money, most of the trucks had the black-finished parts.
Page: