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Ford Phaeton, Blue, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, for $44,900.
We fire this car up for visitors just so they can hear it run, and it brings a smile to their faces every single time.
Those of you who have never owned or driven an early V8 Ford simply don’t know what you’re missing, and those of you already familiar with them know that there aren’t many that are more desirable than a ’36 deluxe phaeton. The sheer number of surviving early V8 Fords is not only indicative of their production figures, but also their outright fun-to-drive quotient. Quite simply, if they weren’t awesome cars to begin with, nobody would have preserved them for decades.
This Washington Blue phaeton offers arguably the best body style from one of the most desirable years, along with some appropriate upgrades that make it a sheer delight to drive. The restoration is probably 15 years old, but it has been beautifully maintained and only lightly used for touring and shows. The paint and bodywork were clearly first-rate when it was completed, and the finish has a soft shine that looks far more correct than modern two-stage urethanes permit. Fit and finish are excellent, and a driver’s door that requires a little extra effort to close is the only demerit. All the chrome was obviously refinished at the same time, with the bumpers remaining brilliant and bright, and things like the argent silver grille and delicate V8 emblem are in excellent condition. A single cream pinstripe sets off the beltline, as original, giving the Ford a rakish, yet elegant look that belies its original sticker price.
The lovely brown leather interior was intended to be functional, as were all Henry Ford’s products, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be beautiful. The door panels are basic flat pieces, but the seats are beautifully stitched and extremely comfortable. With no signs of wear or damage, the interior is in outstanding condition today and a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. You’ll also note that this car carries an accessory rear windshield, an upscale addition usually reserved for big Classics, but entirely appropriate and very useful in the Ford as well. Having grown up in the back of a car without such a luxury, I will vouch for the fact that your back seat passengers will be eternally grateful. Front footwells are finished in black rubber, as original, while the back seat gets brown carpets. The gray painted dash has a hint of metallic to it, and both the steering wheel and shift knob have been finished to match—not quite correct, but it looks awesome. You’ll also note details like an original dash-mounted radio, which is sadly not functional, a rear-view mirror clock, and a switch for the Columbia 2-speed rear axle out back. Overhead, the tan canvas top is in excellent condition, with no rips or tears, and few signs of age. This car also includes a full set of side curtains and a matching top boot, all of which are neatly stowed in the compartment behind the back seat.
The secret to the fun of an early Ford is under the hood, where the venerable flathead V8 became a performance benchmark for a generation. This phaeton carries a proper 21-stud flathead with correct head-mounted water pumps, and was rebuilt less than 1000 miles ago. Upgrades include a high performance camshaft, a set of Red’s headers, and a dual exhaust system, as well as a modern cap and rotor for the front-mounted distributor. Externally, however, it still looks original, with Ford Green paint on the block and heads, a Stromberg 97 carburetor, and a 6-volt generator spinning a 4-blade fan. The additional tubing and control head for the Columbia 2-speed rear end is mounted on the firewall, and there’s a proper oil bath air cleaner up top. It fires up quickly with just a few pumps of the accelerator and no choke necessary, and settles into a lopey idle indicative of the camshaft inside. That big cam means this flathead loves to rev, and has almost instantaneous throttle response with the most delightful engine note this side of a Ferrari. We fire this car up for visitors just so they can hear it run, and it brings a smile to their faces every single time.
Underneath, it’s clean and solid, no longer detailed for show but ideal for touring. The 3-speed manual transmission shifts easily, with light action and positive throws, plus synchromesh on second and third gear. The brakes are still the original mechanical units, but they’re reassuringly firm and do a good job of hauling the car down from speed without a lot of drama. The dual exhaust system has a traditional flathead sound that’s aggressive without being annoying, and you’ll probably find yourself blipping the throttle every time you pass under a bridge just to hear it cackle. And thanks to the Columbia 2-speed rear axle, it can cruise easily at 60 MPH without strain, yet still thunder up steep hills. In fact, with the additional speed equipment, we’ve found that high gear is perfectly acceptable for almost any driving condition and the car is still plenty quick in traffic. Handsome chrome spider wheels and Firestone wide whitewall tires give it a completely authentic look and still have a lot of life left in them.
With spirited road manners, agile, confident handling, and that snappy flathead under the hood, this phaeton is a fantastic tour car and still looks wonderful. It’s also reliable, easy to service, and parts are plentiful and inexpensive, making a V8 Ford an ideal hobby car for the guy who likes to drive and enjoy his hardware. We’re quite fond of this one, and one drive will convince you that the early Ford V8s are some of the best hobby cars you can own.
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Engine:221 cubic inch flathead v8
Location:Warrensville Heights, Ohio