Most driver's ed cars are nothing to write home about — cheap, disposable, and often saddled with annoying quirks randomly adjusted to please the instructor who probably speaks through at least 50 years of stubborn idiosyncrasies. But recently a true jewel of American driver's ed history has surfaced from the depths of eBay — a 1954 Plymouth Belvedere with dual-driver controls.
Dual-driver 1954 Plymouth Belvedere survived untold numbers of teens
The 1954 Belvedere was initially fitted for two drivers — and has kept its unique hardware to this day. Based in Crest Hill, Illinois, the seller claims it has less than 12,000 miles (roughly 20,000 km) on it. Of course, the car doesn't look like it.
On the car's eBay listing, its bidding has reached $12,954.
In 1954, Belvedere replaced Plymouth's Cranbrook as the top model for the maker. It retained this position as a full-size vehicle through 1964 — when it was made an intermediate for 1965. The car's nameplate was retired in 1970 — later replaced by the Satellite.
Every Plymouth used a 230 cubic inch inline-six, which is rated at 110 hp, and used manual transmission — just like the eBay seller's car. But in the middle of the year, a 2-speed PowerFlite automatic became available. Roughly 431,213 Plymouths were built in 1970 — and 32,492 were Belvederes. Sadly, no record exists regarding how many were fitted for the double-driver setup.
1954 Belvedere has two steering wheels
Driver's Education was created to fill in the experiential gaps of driving handbooks, prepping students for tests to obtain a driver's license or learner's permit — an awkward tradition still happening today. Crucial in this process is the in-car instruction where a student drives at the mercy or risk of the driving instructor. The care might have dual controls — usually with pedals and other controls on the passenger side.
However, the Belvedere in question has two steering wheels, in addition to brake controls. The seller doesn't say whether the alternate driver controls work — but when they're pulled from instructive service, most driver's ed cars are switched back to single-driver mode.
Driver's ed car has dings, nicks from anxious teenagers
"This car doesn't need much description," said the seller on the eBay post. But there exist humans who will develop an acute interest in the history of this car — and how it came to have less than 12,000 miles, for example. The seller says this car is "one of a kind," which is specious at worst and unverified at best.
The 1954 Belvedere's body looks in good condition, with a few excusable dings and nicks probably applied with the love of an anxious teenager from the Kennedy or Nixon administration. The seller neither confirms nor denies the presence of rust, but — according to them — the paint is original.
If they're not lying, this car has spent most of the last 66 years indoors.
Driver's Ed Belvedere appears reasonably priced
Surprisingly, the matching interior appears to be in good condition — notwithstanding a visible need for new carpeting, since the old floor coverings are ancient history. The seller says the car runs and drives just fine — but doesn't brake as well as it used to, which is worrying.
The 1954 Belvedere is worth $6,000 to $22,000 — depending on its condition and upkeep, Barn Finds reports. It's hard to imagine how the seller might justify a premium beyond the novelty of a driver's ed relic — one might "trick the ride" with screens, new light fixtures, engine, hydraulics, and digital audio system, but some might see this as an insult to the historic value. Time will tell what other trends this car will survive.