Q: Greg, I'm a regular reader of your column here in Central Vermont.
As a long time MoPar collector, I always enjoy your perspective and good advice. Your recent column in response to Danny Brighton's question regarding the value of his '42 Dodge is right on.
One point you made I'd like to embellish a little. You are correct that there was no car production from '43 to '45 but there was not much during 1942 either which is why there aren't many '42 model cars around today.
As you point out, Dodge production was only 68,000 for '42 models, way below what they would have cranked out in a normal year. That's because the Federal Government ordered a stop to civilian production sometime in Feb. of 1942.
It wasn't until late '45 when production before the factories began shifting production back to civilian vehicles.
My favorite '42 MoPars are the DeSotos with the hidden headlights. Also unique are the small run of "blackout" models produced by many of the manufacturers just before production finally ceased for the duration of the war. The blackouts are very rare and highly collectable today. I look forward to your column each week. Chris Barbieri, Montpelier, VT.
A: Chris, thanks much for your letter and nice comments. I enjoy doing these columns and interacting with so many readers around the country. Your letter indeed pinpoints the lack of car production in 1942, as Chrysler was one of many companies to produce lots of war goods during our time of need, including tanks and air raid sirens to name a few.
The blackout models you mention are indeed rare and interesting. Blackout models were instituted by direct order from Washington DC so that no car manufacturer would have a sales advantage while the use of raw materials were regulated due to the war. Thus, no new cars could be delivered with exposed stainless steel or chrome trim with the exception of bumpers, bumper guards, and windshield wipers. The resulting cars were dubbed "blackout specials" or "blackout models."
As for that 1942 DeSoto, it was indeed a very nice car, and was officially dubbed the Series S-10C Custom Club Coupe.
DeSoto also was the first Chrysler company to use the "Fifth Avenue" badge in '42, releasing a Fifth Avenue Custom Town Sedan that featured elegant leather seating and Bedford cloth trim with small exterior logo identification on the body.
DeSoto production in 1942 came in at just 25,000 total, with your favorite in 2-door Club Coupe mode at just 2,236 models.
All '42 DeSotos were powered by inline 236-inch 6-cylinder engines producing 115-horses. Thanks for your letter, and I'll admit that DeSotos are some of my favorites, too, especially the 1957 Adventurer with a 354-inch, 2-4 barrel Hemi under the hood. What a beauty.