I was motoring down my local highway Sunday morning when this delightful 1938 Ford passed by and dropped into the left lane half a kilometre ahead of me. I immediately saw that it was special and noted which side street he turned off on. Fortunately I was able to follow closely and when he pulled into his front driveway I parked my little car next door at the neighbours.
To his great credit, when I charged across asking to photograph the car, the owner did not turn a hair. He shook my hand, and then offered to park it on the lawn. And opened the bonnet and driver’s side doors. And took out a history book of the car showing it from when it was a rusty barn find right through the reconstruction. As he mentioned in passing that the engine was a purchase from one of his students, I could tell that he had a career that made him comfortable with people.
Well, what a beauty – the car I mean. 1938 Ford and the makers stamps on the firewall defined the construction date, body style, and actual construction number- 69. Since then it lived a full first life until it ended up as a shell but when he found it the process of rebirth started and has been done superbly. Re-birth for a personal car is always a special combination of what was possible and what is possible new – and the best car builders are men of good imagination. It is always a pleasure to see that they have a sense of style as well as just mechanical ability.
Case in point is the boot lid and rear area of the Ford. The owner has retained the extremely stylish central light and lock housing – and where on a modern car would you ever get something a streamlined or cool as that – and moved the licence plate holder off the rear deck to leave a smoother line. The tail lights are Porsche items – selected for the tear-drop shape that echoes the tear-drop of the original items but adds a trafficator amber section. Also note the front grille work. Apparently the chrome bars are not original standard but they are so cool and deco that how could you resist?
Inside the front seat has been changed for two modern buckets – better to sit in – but the back has been kept as a bench. Not just any bench – like the door panel liners, this has been redone in an original style in leather in Bangladesh. And an elegant rear seat it is – it would be more fun to be a passenger in the back than the front.
Note also that the dashboard looks clean and period but has sensibly incorporated such modern refinements as air conditioning ( we live in Western Australia and it is 40º Celsius out there right now…) and electronic dash instrumentation. As the original style has been preserved, it is the best possible compromise. And that’s a 1938 Australian penny in the centre of the dash.
Detail fiends will also note the finished nature of the boot – no hauling sacks of chicken manure in there, if you please… – and the augmented but historical look of the wheels and tyres. No round mag-like billet objects there. As the car’s finish is smooth white gold there is no need for whitewall tyres.
This was the best start to a Sunday that I have had all year! I left my studio and weblog card with the chap and I hope he will get a chance to read this report. It is a wonderful achievement, and he was a gracious gentleman about it all. I hope I did not get him in trouble with his next-door neighbour by parking in her driveway. But when you get a chance…
You never let it go by, Lord Lord.