1946-1948 Dodge

The 1946-1948 Dodge was virtually unchanged, though Professor Fairbanks' hood ornament got a little more detail starting in early 1947. This means there is no way to distinguish model years except by serial numbers, which are therefore worth setting down:

  • 1946: 30645001-30799737 (Los Angeles 45000001-45002145)
  • 1947: 30799738-31011765 (Los Angeles 45002146-45022452)
  • 1948: 31011766-31201086 (Los Angeles 45022453-45041545)
  • 1949: 31201087-31141628 (Los Angeles 45051546-45045426)
The last are for the so-called "first series" 1949s, produced from December 1948 through the following March. In April, Dodge introduced completely restyled "second series" 1949s, its first entirely new postwar products.

The 1946 Dodge was essentially a 1942 with a new grille and fenders.
The 1946 Dodge was essentially a 1942 with a
new grille and fenders.

Other Chrysler divisions followed the same schedule. Dodge built about 42,000 first-series cars. Although rare today, they proved bad investments for those who bought them new, as they were considered 1948 models when it came time to trade, and depreciated accordingly.

Speaking of prices, Dodge was no less immune to postwar inflation than anyone else. The Custom four-door sedan, for example, listed at $1,389 as a 1946, $1,507 as a 1947, and $1,788 as a 1948. That was the single most popular model, with nearly 334,000 sales through early 1949. The Custom club coupe came a distant second and at 103,800 combined, followed by the DeLuxe two-door sedan with 81,399.

With so few changes from 1942, the 1946-1948 Dodges were not very different to drive. They all weighed about the same, had the same barely adequate 102 bhp, and boasted no suspension or transmission improvements, though Fluid Drive was more common postwar, at least on Customs.

This 1948 Dodge Custom convertible had a base price of $2,289, $540 higher than the same model two years before.
The 1948 Dodge Custom convertible had a base price
of $2,289, $540 higher than the same model in 1946.

Unlike Chrysler and a few other makes, Dodge didn't go in for woody sedans and convertibles to liven up showrooms after the war. There was simply no need in the hot seller's market of the time.

New ideas like the Wayfarer roadster were being planned, but they would only materialize with the second-series 1949s. V-8s weren't even on the horizon, though when they did arrive in 1953, Dodge almost instantly achieved its still-standing reputation as a performance Detroiter.

Dodge did build two division-window limousines in the early postwar period, apparently just experiments, plus a handful of chassis for the "professional car" trade. Among those building on Dodge chassis was Superior Coach of Lima, Ohio, which offered many handsome funeral vehicles that are now sought by collectors.

This restored 1948 Dodge is one of 333,911 Series D-24 Custom sedans built in the early postwar years.
This restored 1948 Dodge is one of 333,911 Series
D-24 Custom sedans built in the early postwar years.

Like other Chrysler Corporation cars bracketing World War II, these Dodges were short on excitement but long on room, comfort, and mechanical toughness. Interiors are positively cavernous by today's standards, and trimmed with quality, understated materials that belied original prices.

Performance is naturally sedate, but Dodge's L-head six is smooth and quiet, anvil simple and reliable, and runs seemingly forever with only moderate attention. No wonder so many of these cars saw long service as taxicabs.

In fact, there's a granitic heft to these Dodges, the kind of high-class, all-of-a-piece feel one now associates with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, aptly enough. Three cheers for the benefits of conventionality.

For models, prices, and production numbers of the 1940-1948 Dodge, continue on to the next page.

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