Though you may not recognize the name, you may recognize the vehicle. The Plymouth Cambridge has been on the silver screen for decades in movies like The Caddy with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in 1953 and The Hours with Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman in 2002.
The Cambridge was a full-size vehicle briefly manufactured by Plymouth from 1951 to 1953. It was Plymouth’s representative in the lineup of medium priced cars. New in the early 50s, the Cambridge was largely responsible for Plymouth maintaining their third-place position in the race for sales. The Cambridge was able to do this for all three years it was on the market.
When first introduced, the Cambridge came with fantastic features such as downdraft carburetors (carburetors that utilized gravity to help with the air/fuel mixture) and electric windshield wipers. “Safe-Guard” brakes were also available. They employed two hydraulic cylinders in each front wheel instead of just one.
The 1953 Cambridge had virtually all-new bodies that were reduced in size. The wheelbase went from 118.5 inches to 114. This meant that it was only one inch smaller than the closest competition.
The engines of the Cambridge were still using technology from the 1930s- flathead inline sixes. Fortunately, this did not impact the Cambridge’s reliability. They had managed to produce sales even though they were just modern and up to date enough to get by. Their place in the market was also helped by being well-built and clearly a very good value. Over 480,000 happy customers spent their hard-earned money to buy one, which shows the vehicle was not a clunker.
Even if the Cambridge were to break down, it wasn’t much of an issue. At the time, all 10,000 Chrysler and DeSoto dealers from the east coast to the west sold parts and provided service for Plymouths. This was a major catalyst for drivers having peace of mind with no concerns for being stuck in the middle of nowhere. If parts or service were needed, they were just a stone’s throw away.
Sales of the Cambridge
Chevrolet and Ford were titans of the automotive industry in the 50s. Almost 25% of the cars on the road were Chevys. Ford was right on their heels. Plymouth managed to acquire about 66% of Ford’s numbers.
The 1951 Cambridge was offered in a four-door sedan and a club coupe. The price tag started as low as $1,703, which was pretty close to the Ford Custom which was priced approximately $200 less. The Chevrolet Styleline DeLuxe was only $55 less than the Cambridge. So, what did customers get for the extra money?
Customers got a few more horses under the hood than competitive sixes. They also received aluminum pistons, an oil pump, electric windshield wipers, an automatic choke, and several l other features.
In 1953, the Cambridge added several more body styles that included the business coupe, a two-door sedan, and an all-steel station wagon.
Upon its release, the Cambridge replaced the Plymouth Deluxe, but was itself replaced by the Savoy in 1954.