Classic Car Catalogue

Powell 1954



Powell brothers

Powell Sport Wagon


The Powells’ 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 Plymouths.
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.
A 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.