1954 Plymouth Belvedere Convertible
- Brand: Plymouth
In a revamped 1954 lineup, the Belvedere series was Plymouth’s finest, replacing the Cranbrook. Just 6,900 Belvedere convertibles were produced in 1954.
K.T. Keller favored comfort over style. Chrysler Corporation president from 1935 to 1950, he believed that cars should be built for passenger convenience. He once admonished a California audience that their eastern colleagues were accustomed to wearing hats while driving, which helped explain why his company’s cars, even after their 1949 restyle, remained taller than the competition.
For 1953, still boasting that its cars were “larger on the inside, smaller on the outside,” Chrysler introduced Plymouth models that were actually higher and shorter than their predecessors. Overall, they were well-proportioned, and, having integrated rear fenders, and looked very modern. Latter-day writers are fond of claiming the 1953 Plymouths were not well received, but the record speaks otherwise. Plymouth broke its own sales record that year, with more than 660,000 sold.
For 1954, to counter criticism that the 1953 cars were short and plain, Plymouth added exterior trim and moved the bumpers outward. The grille was boldened, and top line Belvedere models gained full-length sill and side trim. A bold chrome accent also highlighted the vestigial fender stamping ahead of the rear wheel. Interiors were color-coordinated to exterior paint, which appeared in many new hues and two-tone combinations, four of them exclusive to Belvedere convertibles. Sadly, despite these many new features, sales fell badly in 1954, but this was hardly the fault of the cars themselves. The entire industry retrenched that year, victim to a national recession. To compound the problem, Ford declared war on Chevy, forcing cars on dealers, who were ordered to sell them…or else. Chevy countered with an opposing campaign, but the ultimate loser was Plymouth, whose industry rank fell below Buick and Oldsmobile. Plymouths for 1954 were few when new, and are scarce as hen’s teeth today.
Plymouth’s flagship in 1954 was the Belvedere convertible. The most expensive model, it was easily the most glamorous, especially after the mid-year introduction of Woodweave side trim. Part of the Hy-Style accessory group, the Woodweave vinyl had a basketweave appearance, and was used on seats and door panels as well as the exterior accent. Included in the Hy-Style package were rain shields, a cigar lighter, directional signals and special bumper guards. Also available were real wire wheels from Kelsey-Hayes, either chromed or painted.
Descriptions and photo by bonhams