first prototype, made in 1952, used a Chevrolet chassis and six
cylinder engine to keep costs down. While they reportedly thought
about using a Ford chassis, when they had to make final decisions
for production, they chose to use Plymouth chassis and
six-cylinder flat head engines. The chassis had an open
driveshaft, better braking system, and more conomical engine; the
Plymouth was easy to obtain, cheap, and had a parts
interchangeability across all Chrysler lines. They chose the 117
inch wheelbase chassis and engines from 1941 Q series
Their first Powell Sports Wagon was completed in
1954, weighing around 2700 pounds with a steel body (except the
fiberglass front grille, varnished oak bumpers, and oak tailgate).
The Powell stood 68" high with an overall length of 168".
The Powells bought Plymouth chassis, without the bodies, from
local wrecking yards for $45 and up, shipped them to their
California factory, stripped down and reconditioned the chassis,
and sent the engines to a Los Angeles firm for an exacting
rebuild. The steel body was made in special jigs, with few complex
curves that would have added expense. The fiberglass was molded by
a boat shop; the chrome came from Fords in wrecking yards.
unique feature of the Sport Wagon was a concealed tube built into
the right rear fender, running lengthwise along the bed. This was
designed for carrying long objects or fishing poles. Factory
photos of a prototype station wagon show it equipped with a tube
compartment on both sides.