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1948 Dodge D24 Custom Coupe Coachwork by Derham Chassis no. 31138409 Engine no. D24-334434

Sold for US$98,000 inc. premiumLot to be sold without reserve
Lot 121
1948 Dodge D24 Custom Coupe

1948 Dodge D24 Custom Coupe
Coachwork by Derham

Chassis no. 31138409
Engine no. D24-334434

230ci L-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Stromberg Carburetor
102bhp at 3,600rpm
3-Speed Fluid-Drive Transmission
Independent Front Suspension - Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes

*Offered from the John White Ramshead Collection
*Elegant, one-off, custom bodied Derham Dodge delivered new to the family dealership
*Exhibited when new at the flagship 'Broadway Automobile Row' Dodge dealership
*Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance award winning restoration


A cornerstone in the Ramshead Collection - and indeed a very special and sentimental car for Mr. John White - this coachbuilt 1948 Dodge D24 Custom Coupe by Derham Body Company has a very interesting story to tell. Commissioned by Mr. White's father when new, this car is the one that got away, and then resurfaced more than half a Century later.

This one-off Coupe was designed by Enos Derham and Donald Diskey and based on the D24 Club Coupe. Derham - first established in Rosemont, Pennsylvania in 1887 by Joseph J. Derham with a reputation for excellent design and craftmanship and catering to the most prominent manufacturers of the era including Duesenberg - removed the original top, shortened the package tray and moved the rear seat backward by some four inches, installed a new interior and wraparound windows; a design very similar to the contemporary Studebaker Starlighter designed by Raymond Loewy.

The interior was completely restyled with all the trim from the beltline up was of Derham design. The cabin was outfitted with dual interior lamps, two-speed electric windshield wipers, a passenger-side tissue holder, an electric clock, a heater unit with defroster, a seven-button Mopar radio, a custom rearview mirror and an upholstered trunk that included a Derham-badged tool kit case.

This D24 Custom was built for display in Mr. White's fathers Dodge showrooms, and - like most other concepts - to gauge the market for production of custom-series D24s. The result was a remarkable, one-off automobile that was utterly unique in its appearance and design.

A New York Times article was written in 2012 about Mr. White's relationship with this special Dodge and how he was able to acquire it: Mr. White's first encounter with the car made a strong impression. "I remember it like it was yesterday," he said. Mr. White had accompanied his father, an auto executive in New York, to the Derham Body Company near Philadelphia, where the Dodge was undergoing extensive customization. A very pricey endeavor, yet the owners of Bishop, McCormick & Bishop, the Dodge dealership that commissioned the coachbuilt Dodge, wanted something eye-catching for their showroom on Broadway and 45th Street in Manhattan, just below what was then known as Automobile Row. Mr. White kept his eye on the mallard-green coupe. It didn't sell. "I don't know what price they had on it," he said. "It must have been pretty ridiculous. In 1950, I remember us all sitting at our kitchen table, deciding we should have a birthday party for it. It was two years old. It had been sitting in the showroom that long." The dealership eventually took the Dodge to its Brooklyn location, across the street from Ebbets Field, where they sent their most problematic cars to be sold, presumably to less-savvy buyers.

He lost track of the car after the Brooklyn purchase. But in the early '70s, while reading Hemmings Motor News he spotted a classified ad for it. "I almost fell out of my chair," he said. "But whoever was selling it wanted $8,500, which was a preposterous amount of money at that time." The car resurfaced in 1985 in a field in Vermont, and was then purchased by Dr. Joseph Leir, owner of the Memorial Auto Collection in Moorpark, California, who began a comprehensive restoration. A section of the original paint (Brewster Green) was discovered beneath the padded top material. Inside, enough of the original upholstery remained intact to allow an accurate presentation of the patterns and materials. In 2009, the restored Derham Dodge began making the rounds of various concours, culminating with an invitation to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2011, where it won a special award.

In 2012 the Derham Dodge was offered at auction, and finally Mr. White was able to acquire the beautifully restored one-off Coupe. Mr. White said. "I couldn't believe it. I had chills. I had seen it built piece by piece on all those trips to Philadelphia with my dad," he added. "I had seen its debut on Broadway. I had seen it banished to Brooklyn. I tracked it from collector to collector for decades, from Vermont to California. On some level, I always knew it had to be mine. But I couldn't see how. And then, all the stars lined up."

Offered with this unique Dodge is a comprehensive history file containing original Derham Coachbuilder photographs taken when the car was just finished in 1948, a copy of the August 2010 'Collectible Automobile' magazine and December 2010 'Old Cars' magazine in which the car was prominently featured, and also a copy of the original Dodge Owner Service Policy card, which attests to first owner being a Ms. Gertrude V. Fisher of Brooklyn, New York.

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