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Ford Convertible Sedan, Black, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, for $34,900.
On the road, it sings a great V8 song through a single exhaust pipe, the transmission’s light shift action makes gear changes a pleasure, and the suspension makes it feel agile in traffic, not clumsy.
Collecting cars is about falling in love. We all have cars that we appreciate or admire, but the ones we should actually own are those that make us smile every time we see them, cars that we look forward to driving, and those that make us forget about returns on investments. For me, this 1936 Ford convertible sedan is just such a vehicle. It showed up in the pouring rain and looked like it had just been pulled out of a barn somewhere, so it was filthy. But it fired right up, idled almost silently, and as I took it for a spin around the parking lot that first day, the courtship began. During the photo shoot, I took the opportunity to drive it more extensively, and it is one of the best driving old cars I’ve ever experienced. If all V8 Fords were this good, I’m extremely impressed.
After cleaning it up and checking all the fluids, we discovered an awfully nice little V8 Ford underneath the dust and grime. This “slantback” convertible sedan (as opposed to the “humpback, ” which has an integrated trunk) appears to have an older cosmetic restoration, but I have no trouble believing that the 44,900 miles shown on the odometer are correct. In fact, there are stickers on the door jamb from service done in 1966, showing the mileage to be 16,759, so the claims are probably legitimate. The black paint is definitely not original because it’s simultaneously too nice and not nice enough. Condition-wise, there are few scratches or chips, and it shines up very well. However, there is some orange peel in the finish that suggests a modern urethane or enamel and not vintage 1936 lacquer. What it does have is an honest patina and you’ll probably find, like I did, that regardless of the weather, you won’t mind taking this little car for a drive. It looks fabulous going down the road, and even from ten feet away, it’s quite appealing, especially with the single Apple Green pinstripe. A wet sand and buff would make it really pop, but would you start to fret about damage at that point? I don’t know that I’d mess with it, personally.
Up front there’s a very nice grille, recently chromed bumpers, and a windshield frame that could probably pass for original. Accessory King Bee mirrors have been fitted to the door hinges on both sides, and there’s a trunk rack out back for extra carrying capacity, although no trunk is included. The running board mats are good, the V8 emblem on the nose is crisply detailed, and the only things I might consider replacing are the windows in both doors on the driver’s side, which show some delamination around the edges.
The interior is the same story. The staff here at VMCO is divided on its originality. Some of us think it was probably restored when the paint was done years ago, because it’s just too uniform, supple, and undamaged. However, there are others who see the small frayed edges, a few popped threads, and the original floor coverings (no argument there), and contend that given the low mileage, it could definitely be original. The fact that even our experts are having trouble telling the difference is another testament to this car’s wonderful patina, and again, if this were my car, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Shockingly, all the gauges are fully functional, including the fuel gauge and the interesting bubble-style temperature gauge. Turn signals have been added, with auxiliary light housings mounted to the bumpers up front and neatly integrated into the dual rear taillights. The horn and headlights are also 100% operational. And despite being an open car, this one is surprisingly devoid of squeaks and rattles. The top is slightly mottled, but like the interior, it’s very difficult to determine if it is original—I strongly suspect it is. There are no rips or tears, it fits snugly, seals up reasonably well, and includes a matching boot.
Although this car sports a 1937 engine, Ford’s triumph that is the flathead V8 makes a wonderful companion on the road. It offers a peppy demeanor, surprisingly good performance, and makes for a very lively driver (no wonder Clyde Barrow loved to steal them when he could!). It fires up easily with just a little choke, and once it’s fully warmed up, idles quietly with the most obvious sound from under the hood being the fan belt’s whooshing. On the road, it sings a great V8 song through a single exhaust pipe, the transmission’s light shift action makes gear changes a pleasure, and the suspension makes it feel agile in traffic, not clumsy. The engine isn’t detailed for show, but all the parts are there, including a Stromberg 97 carburetor, oil bath air cleaner, and front-mounted distributor. There are signs of correct maintenance, including recent hoses, plugs and wires, and a fresh ground cable. Henry Ford resisted hydraulic brakes as long as possible, offering instead the “security of steel from pedal to wheel, ” but there’s no reason to criticize that decision when the brakes work as well as these do. With a firm pedal and surprisingly strong performance, the brakes are easily up to the task of managing this car’s performance envelope. 16-inch “spider” steel wheels have been painted to match the black body, and sport what appear to be original V8 hubcaps and beauty rings, along with a set of 6.00-16 BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whites of indeterminate age.
Fully restored, these are $60-70,000 cars, but personally, I think I would leave this one alone. There’s just too much to love about the honest presentation, its pleasant demeanor, and the fact that you don’t have to worry about, well, ANYTHING when you’re out on the road. This is another one of those old cars that completely took me by surprise by virtue of how good it is at its job. Come drive this one, and I can almost guarantee you’ll fall in love, too.
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Engine:221 cubic inch flathead v8
Location:Warrensville Heights, Ohio