Rides from the Readers: 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook
Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.
As Plymouth got well and truly into the swing of postwar things, it introduced a new naming system for its full-size cars. Belevedere, for instance, denoted a two-door hardtop coupe in the Cranbrook line—before it split off into its own model. There was but a single engine for Plymouth’s poshest offerings, a 217-cubic-inch flathead six. The 1953 model year, however, introduced Hy-Drive, a three-speed transmission that blurred the line between manual and automatic, since the clutch pedal alone would put the car into gear, and the column shifter didn’t require either clutch-in or throttle lift-off at speed.
This particular 1953 Hy-Drive-equipped Cranbrook remains in fine condition, thanks to the dedicated work of one David Blady.
The ’53 Cranbrook before us today, however, is not the only significant Plymouth in Mr. Blady’s life. He’s also owned a 1951 Hardtop with claim to an illustrious title, that of First-Ever Plymouth Road Runner.
Before you grab your breaker bars and come after Mr. Blady, know that this classic-car devotee states this with good humor. On the skirts of his Hardtop—whose 1951 model places it 17 years before the factory-backed Road Runner actually arrived—was hand-painted the Looney Toons character that is regularly chased by Wile E. Coyote. David’s mother was so charmed by the artwork, in fact, that she commissioned him to paint the Road Runner on the dashboard of her car, 1956 DeSoto. Not exactly a pedigreed drag-strip legend, but then again, neither was the Hardtop … or the Cranbrook.
Jokes aside, Blady is passionate about this particular car, precisely because it is not a high-dollar, high-performance legend.
“My passion for classic cars is shared by many walks of life,” he writes, “but I feel as though the ‘Average Joe’ is under-represented.”
He wants to take a moment to recognize those with personal passion projects, cars into which they’ve poured “a lot of grease, sweat, time, love, and plenty of money.”
We would like to do the exact same thing. All hail the 1953 Cranbrook—and the “first-ever” Road Runner!