Sue & Burt Harness' 1936 Plymouth Convertible (from Volume 13, Issue 140)

We initially met Sue and Burt Harness of Parrish, Florida many years ago when we first started publishing The Cruise News in August of 1994, aimed at providing a quality magazine for the car people of Florida, featuring Florida events listings and coverage, feature cars, articles and classifieds. In the approximately 12 years since then we have seen Sue and Burt all around the state in a variety of vehicles, including a 1932 Ford Roadster, 1953 Chevy Business Coupe, and a 1949 Mercury....just to name a few. These days when we catch up with them they are enjoying the beautiful 1936 Plymouth P2 Deluxe Convertible pictured here.

This vehicle is actually Susan’s pride and joy. She is a very car minded individual (she’d have to be to stick with a motor head such as Burt), and Sue enjoys collecting and building all early years of street rods. But her favorites are mid 30’s Plymouths, and along the line the list has included a couple of 1936 Plymouth Coupes (the first one was nearly destroyed by a cement mixer), a 1937 Plymouth Pickup, and a restored 1937 Plymouth Sedan Delivery.

Sue always wanted a convertible to complete the collection, but they were unable to locate a solid, buildable car of the estimated 1,206 originally built in 1936. That is until an evening in late December of 2003, when while surfing eBay this ‘36 Plymouth appeared. As is often the case, the car failed to reach the reserve on eBay, which gave Sue and Burt an opportunity to talk to the owner/builder in depth about his ‘36 Plymouth. Although a completed street rod was not actually what they were after at the time, it had lots of things going for it which they liked. It was carefully built in a manor they desired, it was red, powered by a Chevy V-8, had air conditioning, and most importantly - it was a driver.

The car was constructed by Tom Bryant, owner of Plydo (an antique car dealer and parts company that specializes in Plymouth and Dodge models from 1932 through 1952) in Delbarton, West Virginia, along with his friend Kenny Thacker, who resides in St. Cloud, Florida part of the year. They began with a solid body from Las Vegas and added many NOS items, including fenders and accessories.

The stock frame received a Mustang II front end with 11-inch GM brakes and a power rack and pinion unit. Out back triangulated coil overs support a 1978 Mustang rear end with 3.00:1 gears that puts the power from a ZZ4 crate motor and a 700R4 overdrive automatic to the pavement. The chassis has been painted red to match the body, then detailed with stainless steel, including the polished gas tank, battery box and fasteners. An aluminum radiator cools the engine, block hugger headers expel the hot exhaust, and nearly every billet piece on the motor has been chrome plated for ease of cleaning (remember, even though it is a beautiful show car, it is intended to be a practical driver first and foremost).

The top was not chopped and the windshield was not laid back, rather the original clean body was left alone and made new. Stock headlights use halogen bulbs, and stock taillights signal intentions out back. A polished stainless grille, new rubber running board mats and re-plated stock bumpers dress up the GM Torch Red paint.

Beige and tan cloth cover the bucket seats and door panels, accented by custom milled trim and dash inserts. S&W gauges, Vintage heat and air conditioning, a LeCarra steering wheel and a Lokar shifter were added. A tilt column and power brakes aid in cruising comfort and enjoyment, as does a Panasonic AM/FM/CD sound system pumping out the cruising tunes. The rumble seat area matches the interior, and the tan cloth top is used for those liquid sunshine days we sometimes see in Florida, or sometimes while traveling the highways and byways.

The car was delivered from West Virginia to Florida on a trailer by Mr. Thacker so that he could meet the new owners upon delivery, and ensure it was going to a good garage. That marks one of the very rare times this ‘36 Plymouth has been on a trailer. Since then Sue and Burt drive the car at least a few times a week, traveling throughout Florida and even to out of state national shows such as the Redneck Nationals in Hammond, Louisiana last August, where it received the “Most Shocking” award.....the trophy for which included a used shock absorber mounted on a wooden board.

As rare as a 1936 Plymouth Convertible is these days, there are actually two in central Florida - and both are red. What are the odds! One easy was to figure out if the one you’re seeing belongs to Sue and Burt Harness is to look behind the wheel. They drive it all over the state, and have a satisfied smile of contentment on their faces. Hey, that’s just how we remember them when we met Sue and Burt oh so many years ago! CN