Cars of the early to mid-1930s are fun to drive and easy to work on and restore, but if '32 Fords are priced beyond what you can afford, there are other finds that can add the same flair to your garage. One such excellent alternative is the 1934 Dodge. They're good-looking and well-engineered automobiles, and can be bought for half the amount of a comparable '32 Ford.
For the 1934 model year, Dodges were heavier, longer and had more powerful engines than their predecessors.
The basic Dodge, the DR "DeLuxe" series, had a 117-inch wheelbase, while the larger, more expensive DS "DeLuxe Special" series rode on a longer 121-inch wheelbase; both models have large teardrop-shaped headlamp nacelles, styled hood louvers and skirted fenders, which make these cars very attractive.
A lower-priced model created to meet the needs of the Depression era market was the DRXX "Standard Six;" it was offered with a painted radiator shell, no safety glass and no pinstriping.
Within its price class, these Dodge models offered a heavier frame, all-steel body and Chrysler-engineered engine, transmission, suspension and hydraulic brakes, including full cooling and oiling systems.
While the aftermarket for Dodges may not be as strong as that for the early Ford V-8 models, there are plenty of enthusiasts and used parts out there to help restore and maintain a '34 Dodge.
ENGINE: A new engine debuted for Dodge's passenger cars in 1934. Chrysler engineers bored out the old 201.3-cu.in., 75hp straight-six to produce the new L-head 217.8-cu.in. version with a 3.25-inch bore and 4.375-inch stroke. The standard engine fitted to the DRXX and DR models had a 5.6:1 compression ratio and counter-balanced crankshaft; it produced 82hp at 3,600 rpm. The standard engine for the more expensive DS models had a higher 6.5:1 compression ratio that produced 87hp; this engine was also available as an option on the DR models. All blocks and cylinder heads were cast iron and the carburetor was a Stromberg EX-22 one-barrel downdraft type.
Unlike other engines of the period, the Dodge Brothers engines had decent oiling with the aid of a Purolator oil filter. The carburetors were fitted with a large, Duplex oiled, copper-gauze air cleaner.
TRANSMISSION: The floor-shifted transmission was a manual three-speed with helical selective sliding gears and a single-plate dry clutch. Selective cam-and-roller free-wheeling could be ordered as an option. The universal joints were well-made ball and trunnion units with roller bearings, and were protected by a leather boot at both ends of the driveshaft.
In the differential, spiral-bevel gears were used, in either 4.11:1 or 4.375:1 ratios.
SUSPENSION: The 1934 models saw the debut of an independent front suspension. The front and rear leaf springs were of the semi-elliptical type, with the rear springs protected with metal covers. The spring shackles were "C"-shaped bolts held with rubber-cored bushings to reduce vibration. The threaded bushings served the dual purpose of holding the shackle in place and isolating it from the frame in the hanger.
Hydraulic shock absorbers were used; those in front were double-acting, while single-acting shock absorbers were mounted in back. The worm-and-roller steering was semi-irreversible, with a ratio of 18.2:1. Most Dodge Brothers cars of 1934 had a 40-foot turning circle and 3 1/2 turns lock-to-lock. The steering column also could be lowered and raised, similar to today's tilt wheels.
BRAKES: The four-wheel drum system was hydraulic; it originally used a strong, molded-asbestos riveted brake lining. Larger than in previous years, the drums measured 10 inches in diameter and had a total braking area of 126.25 square inches. It's a simple system that should give long-lasting service with minimum upkeep.
INTERIOR: The standard interior for the DR and DRXX models boasted cloth seats; leather and mohair were available options. The convertible coupes came with standard leather interior, or mohair at no extra charge. The DS models sported mohair in closed cars, with leather for the convertible sedan. Optional for the interior were a heater, clock, radio and cigar lighter. Seat covers were optional.
BODY/FRAME: The Dodge utilized full-frame construction, with a double-drop bridge type and a seven-inch deep channel. The body was all steel. Interestingly, both front and rear bumpers were optional, as were metal sidemount covers, wire spoke wheels, bumper guards, a spotlamp and a chrome radiator shell. Other options included exterior rearview mirrors, metal spare tire cover, body pinstriping and special paint.
1971 Dodge Challenger 440 Six Pack
Although Chrysler Corporation actually beat Ford to the pony car market, the early Barracudas, while great cars, were, in terms of sales, no competition for the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. In 1970, that all changed when Plymouth sold 23,512 more Barracudas than the year before.
In 1970, the new Barracuda underwent a total transformation--muscular, sexy, eye-grabbing, whatever people called it, the car was stunning. Over at Dodge, the new for 1970 Challenger was equally impressive. One reason for the Challenger's success was the grille. The '70 Challenger grille was made up of a series of staggered recesses, contributing to a visual venturi effect. In 1970, Dodge sold 83,032 Challengers. It was arguably one of Dodge's best debuts ever.
Although the 1971 Challenger looked basically the same, Dodge reworked the grille with a split opening insert finished in Argent Silver for all models, except the R/T, which was black. The taillamps were changed, but the engine lineup remained the same, with this being the last year for the Hemi. The mighty 440 Six Pack remained, albeit at just five fewer horsepower than in 1970. Other changes for 1971 included faux fiberglass quarter panel scoops.
While 1970 Challengers command the most money; the 1971 models are not far behind. Certainly, the 1971 Hemi Challenger is one scarce car, and is revered by Mopar collectors. While Hemi cars gather the spotlight, truth be told, a 440 Six Pack Challenger is nearly as fast, if not faster, than a Hemi model. The 440 is certainly less cantankerous than a Hemi, and parts are more affordable.
Although forgery is a major problem in the hobby today, you are more likely to find a Hemi recreation than a Six Pack phony when you're looking to buy a 440 Six Pack Challenger. However, that does not mean you shouldn't do your homework. Documentation is the key. The chart below lists values for the corresponding year. Of course, there was the incredible jump from 2001 to the present, but current prices we've seen at auctions seem to be softening a bit. Despite this, Mopar muscle cars are likely a decent investment.