My Father-in-Law: The Mopar Man Part II

January 25, 2012

Here is Part II of my blog series on my father-in-law, Tom Fletcher. To see Part I, please click here >>



I see a lot of 1939 license plates and other 1939 memorabilia. What's the story with 1939?

In 1965, I went to Oregon with the Coast Guard and ended up in a small town, Depoe Bay, which had about 300 residents in the winter. The station was small, so we had to find an apartment in town. We had to be on the boat within three minutes of a boat call (siren), so I needed quick transportation to the station. I decided to buy a car, so I bought the only car for sale in town—a 1939 Dodge Coupe for $65!

I fixed it up to run and painted it light yellow with chrome wheels. I drove it back to Colorado when I went to Seattle on a cutter headed for Vietnam.

When I got out of the Coast Guard, I put a 1953 Dodge Red Ram Hemi in the Coupe, traded that for a 326 Plymouth, and ended up with a 318 Polysphere V-8 with 2-4's in it by the early 1970s. I literally drove the wheels off it for quite a few years.

After that, I tore it down and installed a complete 350 Pontiac and rear end. I also pulled out the front suspension and replaced it with a '54 Chevy, and installed a Saab rack and pinion and Camaro disc brakes. I repainted it gray with red and purple flames and it became my daily work "truck" for the next three and a half years.

After that stint, it needed to be refreshed, and I wanted to bring it back to all Mopar again. I convinced Barb, my wife, to let me clean it up and a month later, the frame was in my company truck heading for the sand blaster. I installed a 360 Dodge motor and 727 automatic, leaving the Pontiac rear end and Chevy front suspension so the bolt patterns would match. I repainted and upholstered it in my garage.

1939 license plates from all states

Being from the South, I had to take a close-up
of the Southern 1939 license plates

Read Part 3 »


About the Author

Natalie Josef is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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