Collectors Auto Supply Home Page1954 DODGE
This 1954 Dodge was built in Windsor Ontario and subsequently sold by the Chilliwack Dodge dealer to Mr. Corneleus Kheler, most recently residing in Clearbrook. In 1960 it was sold to my Grandmother, Helen Carpenter, by Mission salesman Ross Coleman, on the condition that turn signals were installed. The main appeal of this car to Helen was its Hydrive transmission that eliminated the need to shift gears.
Today the car is owned by Helen’s Grandson, Jim Carpenter and has served three generations of the same family accumulating 200,000 miles (300,000km) During the mid 60’s the car was given to Jim’s mother and father, Margaret and Don Carpenter. In 1974 Jim took the car to his automotive shop class at Maple Ridge High School and repaired the seized engine in time to use the car during part of grade 12. Thirty years and 130,000 miles later the car is still serving well, having traveled to Fairbanks Alaska in 1992 and throughout B.C., Alberta, and Washington for a 1994 summer vacation towing a tent trailer part of the time.
During the 1960’s Helen used the car to drive to her job as Dr. Liebe’s dental assistant from Nan Dobie’s place on Best Rd. In Mission. Roy Bailey of Cherry Avenue in Mission gave Helen some help learning to drive it in 1960 and after that the car was maintained by Bud Elerbeck’s Home garage across from the Pioneer Chrysler dealership. Nan Dobie was Jim’s great-grandmother and did occasionally ride in the car. Now if you also consider the fact that Jim brought both of his children home from the hospital in this car when they were newborns, that’s five generations of the family that have ridden in this car and three generations that have owned it.
The engine is the original six cylinder 228 cubic inch flathead however due to continual oil slicks under the Hydrive, the Hydrive was later replaced by a conventional three speed and eventually by a three speed with overdrive that was optional in 1954. The overdrive and its freewheeling capabilities created a new lease on life for the car and its passengers. Sixty-five miles an hour cruising was now easy and the extra switch enabling the overdrive to be used in any gear gives six forward ratios for easy hill climbing and trailer towing. At 60 miles per hour, in overdrive, the engine is turning 1800 RPM, delivering 26-28 miles per gallon. The free wheel in the overdrive gives the added flexibility of harmless up and down shifts in to any gear, including the non synchronized low, while the car is moving without using the clutch. The original 6-volt electrical system is unmodified, however, a 12-volt inverter has been added to supply 12-volt accessories. An electric fuel pump was also added to assist the mechanical pump during vapor lock spells.
A second restoration of the body, completed in 1999 has prepared the car for many more years of trouble free motoring.
Well the history around this car continues. Below is the 2007 version of this car's story!
1954 Dodge Regent - Jim Carpenter
You’ve heard it, “wish I had kept that car”. Well, as a teen, I listened and now I still have almost every car I’ve ever owned, even if they weren’t worth keeping. This car came into my family 47 years ago when my Grandmother needed a car in 1960. In the mid 60’s it was used our family’s second car until being parked in the yard several years later. In 1974 it became my automotive shop project; however, my shop teacher challenged my ambitions by suggesting I could get something that already runs for $100. The engine was seized from sitting, body rusty and interior tattered. It was a 20 year old 6 cylinder 4 door Dodge that nobody but me was interested in. I didn’t listen to the teacher and that was 33 years and 135,000 miles ago.
The shop class engine work was a success, with the engine un-seized, and new rings and gaskets, 5 years of silence ended as the flathead cranked back to life. That was the beginning of more than three decades of service as my car. Like an encore to the 10 years of trips and outings in it with my Grandmother and parents, the adventures and journeys we’ve experienced could fill a book and will continue for years to come.
The highlights flash by through the
decades. In the 60’s it was towing
and launching the family boat for outings in Pitt, Allouette and
Finding parts became a passion and I’m not sure if the parts stores liked my business or hated my frequent appearances. Maple Ridge Chrysler finally gave me their 1954 parts book and Ed Coates was just starting his first Lordco store when supplying me with the parts for that high school engine job. Ed warned me about the pitfalls of putting .002 under rod bearings with worn egg shaped crank journals. He has added about 100 stores to that first Maple Ridge store and I’m sure my business helped in a small way. I eventually got better at sourcing hard to find car parts than the local parts stores and am operating CollectorsAutoSupply.com full time, sending parts around the world and sometimes to Lordco.
In the fifty’s and sixty’s it was
quite common for Canadian cars to be more conservative and less flashy than
My Dodge was built in
As you may know, this era of Chrysler
product has the parking brake mounted on the rear of the transmission.
The main problem with this arrangement is that any stray drop of oil
finds its way to the parking brake lining making it practically useless.
My mother taught me what to do to get the brake working any time it got
too much oil on it. One evening she
took us kids to the roadside ice cream stand that used to be on the
Well the Dodge and I are in no way finished travelling but at 205,000 miles there is not much left that hasn’t been taken apart. For 2007 it got new rear axle bearings, a steering box rebuild and wide whitewall radial tires. After that we’re back on the road to see were the next 30 years takes us.
Original 1954 Registration.
1960 Bill of Sale for my Grandmother's purchase of the car. The signal lights the car has today were installed as required below for this sale to complete.
Jim's Grandmother, Helen and Roy Bailey in the early 1990's. Thirty
years earlier, Roy helped Helen learn to drive the Dodge.
Jim's Grandmother, Helen and Roy Bailey in the early 1990's. Thirty years earlier, Roy helped Helen learn to drive the Dodge.
Jim and the Dodge in 1962, 1st picture together.
On my way to Grade 12 Grad.
On my way to 25 year high school reunion.
Grandma's 93rd Birthday