From the Estate of William A.C. Pettit, III and in the Pettit Family from new
1956 Plymouth Belvedere P-28 Sport Sedan
Chassis no. 14198953
The year 1950 saw the start of historic changes that would dramatically improve the fortunes of both the Plymouth and Chrysler Corporation - and not just because of the promising 1951-1952 Plymouth Belvedere. Already on board was Virgil M. Exner, recruited from the Raymond Loewy team at Studebaker to head up an advance-design section independent of Henry King's production studios.
By 1955, Exner had turned Plymouth's stubby post-war frog into a handsome prince. Styled by Maury Baldwin under Exner's direction, the 1955 Plymouth Belvedere was sleek, well-proportioned and appreciably quicker. The new car's wheelbase gained only an inch, matching Ford and Chevy, but overall height was down over an inch with over 10 inches gained in length over the 1954. With fall-away front fenders, hooded headlamps, wrapped windshield, vastly expanded glass areas, shapely rear fenders and colorful two-tone paint schemes, Plymouth's transformation was just as dramatic as the 1955 Chevrolet.
That year, Plymouth's slogan was "Going Places with the Young at Heart". Changes for 1956 were few, but the car remained a stand-out, apparently so much so that Louisa, Virginia Chrysler-Plymouth dealer W.A. 'Claude' Pettit, Jr. bought his mother a brand-new 1956 Belvedere Sport Sedan out of his inventory. Finished in Powder Blue and Eggshell White over a black, white and gold cloth and vinyl interior, Mrs. Pettit's new car featured the 125 horsepower, 230 cubic-inch inline six with a conventional 3-speed manual transmission on the column and was equipped with an AM radio and heater among its optional extras. Some six years and just over 30,000 miles later Mrs. Pettit, no longer able to drive, gifted the car to her grandson, Bill, the curator of the family's well-known Museum of Motoring Memories in Natural Bridge, VA.
It is unclear whether Bill used the car much at any time during his 50 year stewardship, but what is known is that despite many sales of Duesenbergs, Rolls-Royces, Pierce-Arrows and Cadillacs over the following years, this Plymouth remained with his private collection until his passing in March 2012. Showing just over 46,300 miles on its odometer, Bill's notes state that the car sports nearly all of its original exterior finish, chrome and brightwork as well as its completely-original interior. Bill further indicated that he fitted a set of Mopar accessory fender skirts during the 1960s, while a few extra pieces of trim that were discovered during the liquidation of his parts collection last summer were also put in the car. Service records found in the glove compartment show recent work to including new brakes and a tune-up.
The final car to come directly out of the revered Pettit Collection, this remarkable Belvedere is sure to please any new owner who appreciates a unique survivor with well-known and documented history going back nearly six decades.
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