1949 Dodge Wayfarer
1949 DODGE WAYFARER
The style of the new 49 Dodge comprises the concept of no compromises in Comfort, Convenience, Safety and Performance.
"Chrysler´s president K T Keller took an active interest in styling. He did not care for the slab-sided, longer, lower cars, especially if they sacrificed comfort, room, or visibility. Being practical and economy-minded, he felt that smaller cars were more economical and maneuverable rather than being too conservative, he was about thirty years ahead of the rest of the industry."
The new models were shorter and boxier than predecessors and the competition. The style was dubbed three-box styling, one box on top of two others, a styling concept we have seen in recent years as economy and functionalism have superseded styling in importance. Clearly, the design was considerably more conservative and evolutionary than any of the competition.
The 1949 Dodge wore the new styling theme rather well, perhaps better than the more senior makes which had to rely on added hood length and ornamentation for distinction.
Despite being shorter in overall length than the '48s by almost an inch, the wheel base was four inches longer at 123.5 inches. This yielded a smoother ride, especially for the rear seat passengers, while making the car appear longer. In fact, it was longer in wheel base than almost any competitive make. One could say that '49 Dodge had a hand in creating this "compact with impact" trend.
Inside the new Dodge is where the new style reaped significant dividends. The cars were billed as "lower outside, higher inside; narrower outside, wider inside; shorter outside, longer inside." And indeed they were, making them the roomiest, most comfortable cars in their price range. Hip room was noticeably increased - over seven inches for the rear seat and six for the front despite a three inch narrower overall car width. One sat up high in these cars on their "knee-level seats," as Dodge called them, although head room remained very generous.
The body was built by Briggs Body Co., which also built Packard bodies, was quality conscious and the Chrysler cars of that period had some of the toughest and most rust-resistant bodies ever built.
The checkerboard grille was retained although modified. It was lower and wider with heavy stainless steel bars at both top and bottom which extended to the body corners. Another heavy horizontal bar split the middle with round parking/signal lights located just beyond the ends. The block script DODGE and medallion remained in their traditional places on the lower front hood. Also retained was the ramshead ornament, although slightly more stylized. The headlights were set higher and wider than on previous models.
For the first time Dodge adopted the front opening hood, having stayed with the side-opening type through 1948. The new hood was made of two pieces bolted together in the center with a stainless steel molding strip to cover the seam.
The front fenders flowed smoothly into the doors, and there was no hint of the enclosed running board. A stainless steel trim strip ran back from the headlights halfway onto the front doors. Rear fenders remaoned the bolt-on type; while not being as smooth and rakish as competition, at least made replacement a rather simple and inexpensive job. The rear fenders incorporated a molding strip and a chrome stone shield on the senior series. These were optional on the other series.
The taillights, situated on the fender welting, were moved further apart and were housed in a long,slender chrome strip. For the first time plastic rather than glass lenses were used. The brake light was housed in the back center of the deck lid in a console which also contained the license plate frame, trunk handle, and the optional back-up light. The independently housed brake light had been a distinguishing fature of Chrysler-built cars for a number of years. 1949 would be the last year for it.
Fully carpeted rear floor and fixed footrests for rear seat passengers was a feature on all sedans. Visibility was improved too, by the use ofa 24% larger windshield and a larger rear window. Doors opened out to almost a right angle to permit easy entry and exit. On the four door models the rear door was hinged from the front, whereas in the past these doors were rear-hinged "suicide doors" except on the Town Sedan. Latches were of the safer rotary type rather than the bolt and striker type used on several other makes, including all GM cars.
The 1949 Dodge retained the traditional symmetrical dash design. although applying a substantial refinement. The result was probably the best looking dash Dodge had ever produced. Overall it was changed to a more vertical position and faetured much les chrome than before. The preceding model's round speedometer on the right of a row of four small rectangular guages was replaced with three large squares. The center one contained the speedometer while the other two accomodated the oil pressure and fuel gauges on the right, and the ammeter and temperature gauge on the left. Idiot lights had yet to arrive on the scene. Accessory knobs and the ignition switch were located on a wide chrome band which ran across the lower portion of the dash.
The center radio grille was less massive and had horizontal bars as opposed to the vertical ones before. Dodge block letters appeared above the grille and the medallion in the center. To the right of the radio was a rectagular clock [an option] and the glove box. The ash receiver was placed on the chrome band just below the clock. Heater and defroster controls were grouped in a screwed-on console below the radio. This unit was called the "all weather comfort system", and could provide fresh air from outside the car via the underhood blower motor and controls. More fresh air could be brought in by opening the cowl ventilator - a feature that had already disappeared on most cars.
The large, 18 inch diameter steering wheel was changed from a T-type to a Y-type three spoke. It still came with a full horn ring, except on the cheaper models where it was an option. Other interior changes included a wider apron on the garnish molding and window regulators which require only tow turns for full window travel, as compared with three turns on previous models. Interior materials depended on the model purchased. The more expensive models offered a choice between one design of mohair, and two designs of broadcloth in several colors (brown and gray were the most common), while the plainer models featured only two designs of gray broadcloth.