A Piece of History – 1937 Plymouth P4

By: Tim Bryant, Public Affairs, 3 CDSG

It’s often been said everything happens for a reason. And one such example of that idea is the story of how a 1937 Plymouth P4 coupe ended up in the hands of 3rd Canadian Division Support Group Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Wayne Bantock.

CWO Bantock explained the P4 is more than just an 81-year-old vehicle – it’s essentially a piece of Canadian military history. “It has stayed in the RCEME (Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) family its whole existence,” he said.

The 1937 Plymouth P4 coupe won the ‘Top Vehicle’ award at the 2018 RCEME Day show and shine
Photo Courtesy of CWO Wayne Bantock

CWO Bantock’s father, John, himself a military man with the Royal Canadian Air Force, had “always been into cars” and came across the P4 while browsing online marketplaces. He was immediately hooked and went out to look at the car, and ended up buying it. It wasn’t until John got the car home and was looking over it in more detail that he spotted a sticker on the windshield that indicated the car had been at the RCEME School in Kingston, Ont. in 1958. What might have been a fairly innocuous sticker took on even more meaning – CWO Bantock is a RCEME member.

The sticker on the windshield indicating the car had been at the RCEME School in 1958
Photo Credit: CWO Wayne Bantock

He added that when his father saw the sticker on the car, “he said he wanted me to have the car because he said he couldn’t imagine anybody who should have the car more than me, being a RCEME guy.” With a bit of digging, CWO Bantock was able to pull together the car’s history.

The original and sole owner was Major Dave Nicholas, who bought the car new. Maj Nicholas then went to fight in the Second World War before returning to Canada and staying in the military. He kept the car and drove it around the RCEME School in Kingston in the 1950s, 1960s and beyond.

In fact, the car stood out in Kingston. CWO Bantock recounted that after he got the car, he showed it to Brigadier-General (Retired) Peter Holt, who said he remembered seeing the car driving around in the late 1960s, and even knew Maj Nicholas had been the owner.

Maj Nicholas completely restored it before passing away.

“His family just kind of pushed grandpa’s car into the old shed and decided after years and years, probably a dozen years that it sat, ‘Oh, put it on Kijiji.’” CWO Bantock said.

His father gave him the car in early 2018, and he’s since repainted it and had it restored to its original specifications. The car was in good shape even after being stored for more than a decade, but now it’s back to its original shine.

The insides of the 1937 Plymouth P4 coupe when John Bantock first picked it up. The car was in great condition for having been stored for more than a decade
Photo Credit: CWO Wayne Bantock

“To me, I look at that as a piece of corps history,” CWO Bantock said. “The fact that this guy bought it brand new, went to World War Two, stayed in the military afterwards, and then it ended up coincidentally, pure coincidence, my dad bought this car, brought it home and then looked at it and that it had a RCEME sticker.”

As a corps, RCEME was formed in 1944. Not only is the corps’ 75th anniversary taking place in 2019, it also means Maj Nicholas would have been one of the corps’ original members. And now, nearly 82 years later, the P4 is in the possession of a new generation of RCEME soldier.

“It’s definitely something I will never sell,” CWO Bantock said. “It will stay in my family now.”

Leave a Reply