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The car with 101 uses: 1950 Plymouth Suburban

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Photos by the author.

On my way to Hilton Head last month to attend the concours there I made a side trip up to Charleston to photograph this fabulous Plymouth. It’s a 1950 Suburban, a once fairly popular model that sadly isn’t around anymore, at least not in this outstanding condition. While we won’t know all the details about its production specifics until we start our research on this model for its upcoming profile in Hemmings Classic Car magazine, we do know that 34,457 were produced for the 1950 model year.

Weighing in at just 3,116 pounds, this handsomely styled two-door wagon was powered by Plymouth’s one and only engine that year, the ever-rugged straight-six flathead. Displacing 217.8 cubic inches, with its 7.0:1 compression ratio and single-barrel Carter carburetor, it developed 97 horsepower at just 3,600 RPM.


While power was never the Suburban’s forte, its primary feature was its versatility. As clearly outlined in the Suburban’s brochure, Plymouth called it “The cars with one hundred and one uses.” They went on to say: “No other “utility car” offers you such an outstanding combination of utility, beauty, comfort, and low cost. The Plymouth Suburbans are not compromises, or makeshift in design. They represent a completely new concept in transportation. . . an altogether new and different kind of car. . . engineered and specially designed to meet a long-standing need for active, all-around transportation. The long list of enthusiastic users is topped by the American Family – followed by sportsmen, resort owners, architects, engineers, farmers, ranchers, estate owners, vacationers, salesmen, and many others, including people who operate stores, shops or services – people who want a car that can work all day, then take the family out in style the same evening. Yes, there are 101 uses – and more. Maybe you’re thinking about some new ones right now!”


This particular Suburban is owned by Robert Duncan, who bought the old Plymouth back in 1987, then committed several years of hard work to restore it back to the way it rolled off the assembly line, with the correct blackwall tires and all. “It’s fun and comfortable to drive,” Robert told us, “just as long as you don’t go over 55 miles per hour.”