Monday, November 14, 2011
Taking inventory of Hover Motor Company, 1942
During World War II, new cars were hard to get. In fact, toward the end of 1942, U.S. automakers quit building new cars for the general public, and converted their factories primarily to the production of war materiel. Basically no civilian cars were built between 1943 and 1945. That is a long dry spell.
Naturally, this situation had an impact on the used car market as well. If you’ve ever wondered why the picture of my granddad’s used car lot in the header of this blog only has four cars, you need to put it in context. That picture was taken right in that time period of 1942-1944 or so, and the fact that he even had four cars was significant.
The actual Hover Motor Company car lots were in business from the 1930s through the 1970s in various locations in Colorado Springs. You’d think there would be a bunch of lot pictures with that big of a time frame, but nope, this is the only one. So, we’ll make the most of this picture. If you’re at all curious about the four cars that were sitting there that day, read on. We’ll analyze the inventory a bit from left-to-right.
1939 Pontiac Coupe
When brand new, the best ’39 Pontiac could be had for under a grand, but here recently, a special example has been in the headlines. A 1939 Pontiac sedan with a clear Plexiglass body sold earlier this year for $308,000 at an RM Auction in Michigan. It was used in General Motors’ famed Parade of Progress displays to show the inner workings of the latest Pontiac. In contrast, my granddad’s Tin Indian sold for much less. According to the National Market Reports Blue Book from 1942, the average cash value of a ’39 Pontiac Coupe was only $366.
1937 Plymouth Business Coupe
Granddad’s Business Coupe had a $580 price tag fully delivered when it was new, but by 1942, the National Market Report Blue Book gave it a cash value of only $183. You couldn’t even pay the yearly taxes on a five-year-old car for under $200 today.
One interesting version of the ’37 Plymouth Business Coupe was the “P3” option package, which offered less luxury touches than a normal car, but a small pickup bed inserted where the trunk lid would go. That rare option is reminiscent of later car/truck combos like the El Camino and Ranchero.
1941 Ford Tudor DeLuxe Sedan
Engine options for a ’41 Ford included a 90-h.p., 226-c.i. six-cylinder, or the vaunted 221-c.i. Ford flathead V8. Interestingly enough, the V8 was listed with five less horsepower than the six, down to 85.
A DeLuxe Sedan like the one on the lot had a base, delivered price of $756 when it was new. National Market Reports said in 1942 that it would have a cash value of $505, but the retail value was $758. One thing my granddad was known for was his ability to buy late model used cars cheap, so I’m sure there was money to be made on this year-old Ford.
1941 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe
Chevrolet was far-and-away the biggest seller in 1941, with 1,008,976 cars moving out the door. So you don’t have to do the math, that means the Bowtie Brigade sold 317,521 more cars than the Blue Oval camp that year. Modern, rock-solid cars backed by the formidable power of General Motors was a hard combination for anyone to overcome back then.
Similar to Ford, Chevrolets had an all new design in ’41, with more room than ever before, a wider body, and the elimination of the old-fashioned running boards.
Judging by the picture, I think my granddad’s Chevy was a Master Deluxe Coupe. A car like that would have started at $743/delivered when new. By 1942, the retail value had increased to $780 according to the National Market Reports guidebook of the day. I’d buy every ’41 Chevy I could get my hands on for that kind of money today.
At any rate, if you’ve ever wondered about the four cars in that picture up there, or even if you haven’t, now you at least kind of know what they are. I don’t have a huge slideshow full of these four cars to present to you, and I’m not sure how much you’d care to see it anyway. So instead, I’m running the Hover family photo album slideshow. I know it’s a rerun, but it took me forever to make it, and it sort of goes with the theme because this whole story is about a car-related family photo. Captions are available if you click the bubble. Thanks for checking in!