John M 1939 Dodge Custom Series D11 4dr Sedan

Dodge Lodge

I was 20 years old (more or less) and bought 2 - 1939 Dodge's, one actually ran and one had been in the blackberry bushes for ..well a very long time. I made 1 driver in backyard jacked up on logs. pretty rough. the engine had a crack the entire length of the block, we just welded it up and kept on goin' seeped a little water, but heck we lived in Oregon and lots of water around. just stop and fill er up when needed.. dirt back roads no problem for the ol' Dodge as it has a riveted plate that encases the drive line and big skid cross member  under the engine, the frame is a big x-brace too so can't really tweak this out .if you high center it  would just teeter totter on the rock .Probably call that sort of an off road vehicle in today's world, but the roads in '39 weren't like they are today.. lots of rough stuff back in the day. When I was young, I couldn't always afford a battery so I parked the Dodge on the top of a hill and coasted most of the way into town (saved a lot of gas you know) before popping the clutch and off we go! Lots of hills around so didn't really matter much.. met an old guy at the Stateline liquor store once who said he had one during the war (II) and couldn't always get gas so ran a lot of diesel mixed in .. .said the cylinder head would turn a "bright cherry red" but it would just keep on runnin'. Well I never tried that. but these are really tough cars!

Well , I started a restore sometime in the mid 70’s I guess. Rebuilt the chassis and drive train with NOS stuff body pretty rough when I put it in storage for well over 30 years. then all of a sudden.. I was an "old guy"! I still had the Dodge stashed in Oregon in geo heated storage .. so I bought a "pretty one" in New York (ex mob car so I'm told) 3rd owner and all that. My buddy, Greg , and I drove it away from NY after making some minor repairs etc to make it road worthy  had a great trip even won a drive in car show in Saratoga Springs! We saw Niagara Falls  and met some really interesting and gracious "car nuts" in Derby NY who put us up and toured us around to some restoration shops and in general had a great time. All because we were in a gas station looking for a motel and this guy rolls up in a 69 (I think)  Caddie El Dorado convertible  and started talking. We asked about a motel and he said, “just stay over at my mobile home”. We said ok why not .turns out he had a mansion on the shore line and he and his neighbor host "Pebble Beach East" and had really awesome car collections. They were the ones who put us up and toured us around to all the cool shops and met their friends etc, what a fun time and what great folks! We were having some vapor lock problems the whole trip, mainly when stopping and idling in the heat and humidity and finally in Missouri (103 degrees and 100% humidity)  I had to exit the highway very quickly after a coughing spree and hit a big bump and accidentally hit reverse instead of second and blew the tranny. We tried to find a replacement, and learned a lot about Missouri culture at Dicks auto shop, where work stopped about 10:30 and a bunch of good ‘ol boys gathered under a fan , drank some beers and got a kick out of these California “boys”. Probably in the old days we would have just taken the transmission apart and forget about reverse gear, just get the broken teeth out of the box and go for it. but being old and lazy,(and hot),  we got a u- haul and trailered  it back to Calif. Of course the u haul trailer had two flat tires in the middle of Nevada on Hi-Way 50.so … we spent a night in the Dodge Lodge listening to Coyotes and watching the moon rise…long story. But, it is the “loneliest Hi-way”  for sure… Then to California and off to Oregon where my old friend still kept a stall in his (now sons) repair shop and we pulled the (now parts car) out of storage and took the NOS chassis and pretty NY car and again made one good car. Oh the name.. We thinking about what to name the car.. and low and behold his name was already on the heater knob "Arvin" .so we went with it! There are more stories, you know like changing rod bearings on my 59 Chevy truck at Badwater Death Valley . and out running some "bad guys" in Mexico my 57 Chevy . back in the day .but well. maybe another time.. But for now I drive Arvin every month or so and “he” (Ram thing, very stout and “male” oriented) has now been from Long Island to Bodega Bay, and enjoys providing rides to four generations of family!

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