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Ford Woodie 8-Passenger Deluxe Wagon, Red, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, for $129,900.
Fully documented with just three owners from new, including Lorin Sorensen, the noted Ford Historian, who owned it from 1964 to 2008.
Is the 1940 Ford the ultimate woody? It’s hard to argue against them, both in terms of styling, utility, and appeal, especially since only 8730 were built in 1940. This particular 1940 Ford Deluxe 8-passenger wagon carries body number 11725, making it very likely the last 1940 wagon built at Ford’s Iron Mountain assembly plant. Fully documented with just three owners from new, including Lorin Sorensen, the noted Ford Historian, who owned it from 1964 to 2008. Never completely disassembled, it was treated to a body-on refurbishing in 2004, which included fresh varnish, new paint, and a rebuilt 221 cubic inch flathead. Today it shows 20,000 miles on the odometer, but the correct number is believed to be just over 47,000 original miles, making it an extraordinary survivor.
According to the original bill of sale that accompanies this woody, the first owner was G. L. Thunberg of Santa Rosa, California. Mr. Thunberg purchased the car to take on a cross-country camping trip, and it remained in his care until 1964, when Mr. Sorensen purchased it. As Ford fans know, Lorin Sorensen is the author of such noteworthy reference books as “Famous Ford Woodies” and is perhaps best known for writing the Ford Motor Company’s 75th Anniversary book. Under Mr. Sorensen’s care, the car was also featured in the June 1969 issue of “Rod & Custom” magazine, where its 2-speed Columbia rear axle was highlighted, as well as numerous television commercials. Whenever someone needed a Ford woody wagon, they called Mr. Sorensen, and more often than not they used his personal vehicle. This is a very well-known, well-documented car.
The body has never been off the chassis, and the wood remains original throughout. The joints are exceptionally tight, and the overall condition is simply stunning. Without knowing otherwise, it would be quite easy to believe this is a fully restored car. None of the usual wooden automobile issues can be found, with the unusual gumwood panels (in place of the usual birch) remaining in spectacular condition. The varnish applied by Nick Alexander in 2004 gives the car a warm, golden glow that’s highly authentic, and surely much of the reason for the woody’s appeal. The doors open and close easily, latch tightly, and seal up as well as any wooden body I’ve ever seen.
The paint by Nick Sala is in the original Garnet Maroon, and remains in near show quality condition today. With no signs of road wear and a spectacular two-stage urethane finish, it is surely worlds nicer than any factory paint in 1940, and will remain bright and shiny indefinitely given only a modicum of care. Almost all of the chrome and trim is original, including the unique extendable side mirrors, further evidence of this car’s miraculous preservation throughout the decades. Even the glass appears to be factory-issue, with only slight delamination issues in the rear window, but not significant enough to warrant replacement. The leather-grain top was replaced at the same time using correct reproduction materials and a proper edge bead.
The chassis was given a thorough mechanical refurbishing at the same time, making the car reliable and comfortable to drive on tours. A new 221 cubic inch flathead was supplied in the crate by Dennis Carpenter, and the engine bay was restored to a period correct, although not over-detailed, condition. Upgrades include a 12-volt electrical system with an alternator inside the original generator’s case, as well as a vacuum-assisted braking system that greatly improves the Ford’s stopping power and safety. At just over 3200 pounds, the woody was by far the heaviest consumer-grade Ford in 1940, and every little bit certainly helps. The 3-speed manual transmission is original to the car, and the aforementioned Columbia 2-speed rear axle is fully functional, allowing effortless cruising at modern highway speeds. The engine bay shows signs of approximately 5000 miles of touring use since the refurbishment, and while it is not detailed for concours work, it has a very nice period-appropriate patina. The engine bay matches the rest of the car’s condition, and the original dealer-applied undercoating remains on the bottom of the hood. Correct 6.00-16 whitewall tires were installed at the same time, and the repainted wheels are fitted with trim rings and Deluxe hubcaps.
Inside, the highly original interior is in spectacular condition. Aside from the re-varnished wood, the rest of the passenger compartment remains untouched. Still sporting three rows of seats (the third row seat in many woody wagons was often removed to improve cargo capacity), it is ready for a cross-country tour with the family or a trip to the local train station to retrieve guests. The seats are undamaged, and the leather material remains supple and flexible, with no cracking or splitting. It’s probably safe to assume that the rubber floor mat up front has been replaced, given its extraordinary condition, but it has a patina that matches the rest of the interior. All the gauges remain functional, the radio hums, but unfortunately the clock is not working. The tailgate retains all its original hardware, including the leather-wrapped assist spring.
Documentation includes the original bill of sale and owner’s manual, and this car also features the original tool pouch.
Do your research and you’ll find that prices on 1940 Ford woodies remain extremely strong, and this one may even represent something of a bargain. Few restored cars can match this Deluxe woody’s combination of authenticity and originality, as well as its known ownership history that includes a noted Ford expert, making it a very special car indeed. Fully sorted, it runs exceptionally well, and the smart upgrades make it an ideal tour candidate. Carefully preserved and enjoyed by just three owners, this is an excellent example of what many regard as the ultimate woody wagon.
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Engine:221 cubic inch flathead v8
Location:Warrensville Heights, Ohio