27 May 2014

Detroit's 1942 WWII 'Blackout Specials'
Rare, Prized Collectibles Today-

'42 Dodge 'blackout' inspected by Army officers

As you well know -just a few weeks after 1942 model-year automobiles had entered into production- the Japanese infamously attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec 8, 1941...  

Chromium was promptly labeled a strategic material, and the US government ordered the nation's automakers to eliminate brightwork on the cars (primarily chrome and stainless trim) within one month, since the copper and nickel used in the manufacture of it were going to be needed for the war effort. They were allowed to chrome-plate only bumpers, bumper-guards, and windshield-wipers.

Regular, early-1942 Dodge

Furthermore, Detroit was told to cease production of passenger cars entirely in two months.

This federal mandate led to a very low-production and interesting run of cars, commonly known as the wartime 'blackout specials' or 'victory cars', with the formerly shiny parts painted either black, grey, or some other color to complement/contrast the main bodywork.

a '42 Dodge blackout today

Although it is difficult to ascertain precise production figures for each of the blackout models of 1942, for example typically high-production Chevrolet only managed to screw-together 2350 victory cars in the two months prior to the near-total defense-manufacturing switchover.

1942 Chevrolet blackout special

Then in '42, things went from bad-to-worse for anyone who 
really needed to buy a car...

LeMay Museum: 

On January 1, 1942, the Office of Production Management (OPM) froze dealer inventories, halting all new car and truck sales pending a rationing program to be implemented in March. All passenger car production had ended by February 11. Nationwide, there remained 340,000 new 1942 cars in dealer inventories, including all the January 1942 blackouts. The war ended in 1945. Local ration boards authorized each new car sale at OPM-controlled prices. Used car prices nearly doubled. New tires were not available; recaps were rationed. Gas was rationed. The national speed limit was reduced to 35 mph.

During the war, Chevrolet and GMC made military trucks and ambulances, armored artillery and shells, airplane engines, and amphibious DUKW's. Chevrolet's car production resumed on October 3, 1945.

Chevrolet builds T-17 Staghound armored scout cars in Flint, Mich.,
during World War II. Chevy built 3,800 of them -most with the 37 mm
cannons shown here- between October 1942 and April 1944.

B-24s under construction at Ford’s Willow Run line