The Wayfarer was the low-priced model in the all-new 1949 Dodge lineup, offering a minimum of chrome and gadgetry. Body styles on this no-nonsense edition included a three-passenger business coupe, a fastback sedan, and a convertible roadster. The business coupe, shown here, was a favorite among traveling salesmen due to its enormous trunk, ideal for hauling samples, along with the bare-bones price.
While Dodges of this era offered little in the way of luxury or style, they were well regarded for their engineering, including innovations like Fluid Drive. A hybrid of standard and automatic transmissions, this system paired a conventional manual clutch with a hydraulic coupling. Drivers could pull away from a stop light without using the clutch pedal, although at a very leisurely rate. In the years before fully automatic transmissions became widely available, Fluid Drive was an attractive and popular feature.
While the styling was all-new in 1949, it was still boxy and conservative for its time. Except for the bright metal egg-crate grille, there wasn’t much to look at. However, the slab sides and tall roofline provided a roomy cabin with plenty of headroom. Men and women could step in and out of the Wayfarer comfortably with their hats on—a great sales point since most everyone wore a chapeau in those days (check out the couple above).
With this all these practical but not terribly glamorous features, it’s easy to see how Dodge in these years developed a reputation as an old folks’ car, especially the plain-Jane Wayfarer. All that would change a few years down the road when the Hemi V8 was introduced.
Courtesy of Dodge Redline