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1935-1936 Plymouth

Plymouth's Success

Plymouth's success was due in part to improved ride and handling for 1935, thanks to a stronger new double-drop frame with central X-brace. Besides allowing lower floors, wider seats, and better weight distribution, the new chassis design enabled engineers to push the passenger compartment further forward, putting rear-seat passengers ahead of the rear axle for the first time.

A new frame, a new body, and a refined transmission contributed to the 1936 Plymouth Deluxe' success.
A new frame, a new body, and a refined
transmission contributed to the 1936
Plymouth Deluxe' success.

Revised springs enhanced ride comfort for all passengers, and the front suspension added a transverse torsion bar that reduced body sway when cornering. Bodies were also stronger, as traditional wood framing was eliminated. Fabric roof inserts continued, but Plymouth could advertise "all steel" construction more truthfully than Chevrolet, whose new 1935 "Turret Top" bodies retained wood substructures.

The new chassis and bodies, mated at no fewer than 46 points, combined for what Plymouth promoted as "Floating Ride." It was nice match for "Floating Power," introduced on 1931 Plymouths and still unmatched in the low-priced field.

Floating Power was designed to enhance comfort by reducing powertrain noise and vibration reaching the passenger compartment. It involved mounting the engine on three large rubber isolators, one in front and two on either side of the bellhousing at the second crossmember.

Carl Breer, who with Fred Zeder and Owen Skelton made up Chrysler's famed "Three Musketeers" engineering team, described this innovation in his autobiography, The Birth of Chrysler Corporation and Its Engineering Legacy:

"Find as near the center of mass of the power plant as possible. Then draw a straight line from the center of the universal joint connecting the propeller shaft through the engine center of mass forward. Where it comes out over the front cross member, mount a cradle-type rubber mounting. Then mount the two rear side supports on a circle using the center line axis as the circle center. Locate the two side mountings at the tangential angle so the engine can rotate freely around the axis line drawn through the center of mass. If you do this, you should overcome the side shift action."

Plymouth advertising continued to emphasize engineering in 1935. Said that year's sales brochure: "Now a new twice-as-rigid frame, a new Sway Eliminator, a change of front shackles and the miracle has been surpassed. The Perfected Floating Ride." Enthused an ad in the March 9 issue of Colliers: "Rough roads are made-to-order for this big, fast new Plymouth. You don't have to stay on the concrete highways with the Floating Ride."

As with many other cars, the most popular '35 Plymouths were the two- and four-door sedans, particularly the new DeLuxe touring models. The built-in trunk added $25 to list price, putting the two-door at $650 FOB Detroit, the four-door at $685. Even so, both tourings outsold the trunkless "flatback" styles, and the four-door touring was the top-selling model in the line. Of the nearly quarter-million PJ DeLuxes built, touring sedans accounted for 127,271.

The least popular '35s were the Traveler sedan (just 77 built), the Westchester wagon (119), the seven-passenger sedan (350), and the commercial sedan (1,142).

Despite its great success, the '35 Plymouth was a "one-year wonder." Plymouth had come from nowhere in the late Twenties to gain a firm hold on the number-three sales spot, but Chrysler was still gunning for the top. And with leaders Ford and Chevrolet swapping places in the '35 race -- finishing one-two, respectively -- Plymouth looked to have a shot at number two in 1936.

That didn't happen, even though Plymouths were substantially changed for the second straight year. As historian Jim Benjaminson noted in The Plymouth Bulletin: "The '36 is looked upon by many as merely an updated version of the '35 car. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, as this car had a new frame, a new body, a refined transmission, an improved suspension, and a host of other refinements over the car it replaced." It was also more advanced than the '36 Chevy and Ford, yet didn't look as new as it was.

But although Plymouth again had to settle for a third-place finish, sales reached a new high on record model-year production of more than 520,000 units.

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