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Thursday, May 20, 2010

1934 Ford Tudor - Collector Car For Sale


I have an old newspaper photo from the Cleveland Plain Dealer on my desk at home showing a somewhat overwhelmed-looking 3-year-old boy standing behind a 1934 Ford sedan holding a toy car of his own. The caption explains how that little boy’s father had just purchased that 1934 Ford sedan at the auction where the photo was taken, and that it was the father’s first-ever antique car. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably guessed that the little boy is me, the car is my father’s 1934 Ford that started the two of us in the collector car hobby, and the date was sometime in July of 1973. My father knew nothing of old cars and couldn’t have imagined what he was getting himself into. He just liked how that old Ford looked. When this 1934 Ford tudor sedan showed up, I was instantly transported back 35 years to that day, and to the many fun hours thereafter spent in that neat old Ford. In fact, I invited my father to visit Best of Show this afternoon just to see this car, and we ate lunch reminiscing about that car, both of us regretting that it was “the one that got away.” It was an absolutely fantastic hobby car in every single way—reliable, quick enough to keep up with modern traffic, big enough for the entire family, and incredibly stylish. Will anyone argue with me that 1934 was a banner year for Ford designers? This very nice 1934 Ford tudor sedan has had a modest restoration sometime in the past, but was clearly never destined to be a trailer queen. Instead, it is a super-clean and functional driver with great paint and a gorgeous original-style interior. Of course, it’s black with black fenders, Henry Ford’s favorite color scheme, and it is in very presentable condition today. The wheels and pinstripe are Tacoma Cream, which is a nice compliment to the tan cloth interior. The body work was done to a good standard several years ago, and it has aged well. A few of the friction points such as the hood latch mechanisms have some wear, but overall—especially for a black car—it looks fantastic. The doors are flat and wave-free, the fenders are solid, and the paint is glossy. The fabric insert for the top is in excellent condition with no signs of tears, rips, or shrinkage. Up front, you’ll find those great-looking stainless steel Ford headlights augmented by a pair of aftermarket driving lights that were a period accessory. The bumpers front and rear have been re-chromed, and the bumper guards are correct (I seem to recall that our ’34 had the wrong ones and the correct ones were virtually impossible to find). The single horn is under the driver’s side headlight and works properly, as do the dual taillights, with the driver’s side also sporting a clear lens to light the license plate. Some of the glass has been replaced, but I have a hunch the glass in the doors is original and it’s in very good condition with little delamination and bubbling. And that gorgeous 1934 grille is in excellent condition from top to bottom with no bent bars. Mechanically, this tudor still runs an original style flathead engine. Because Ford never really matched engine and frame numbers, we can’t say for certain whether it is a numbers matching car, but on these it doesn’t really matter. It’s a correct 221 cubic inch early 21-stud flathead with what I believe are factory replacement cast iron heads (casting 68-6050B with a tag marked 10-19-45 on the driver’s side and 68-6049B with a tag marked 6-13-45 on the passenger’s side). There were problems with the original aluminum heads and many early flathead Fords received replacement cast iron heads such as these at the dealership when they were relatively new. I don’t believe the aluminum intake is a factory piece, but perhaps an aftermarket performance intake developed sometime in the ‘50s. There’s no name or number on it that I can see, and its somewhat crude casting suggests one of the dozens of smaller speed part manufacturers that sprang up during hot rodding’s golden years. However, it is topped by a 1934-correct Stromberg “97” 2-barrel carburetor. That giant oil-bath air cleaner is not original, but probably works and flows a lot better than the original one did. The stock exhaust manifolds dump into a reproduction single exhaust system with that recognizable and traditional flathead Ford sound. The radiator is a factory piece, with hoses and clamps that were probably installed when the car was first restored and are starting to show some age. The transmission is a Ford 3-speed manual, with synchros on 2nd and 3rd gears. It shifts easily and quietly, with good clutch action. Out back there’s a Ford hypoid rear with 4.11 gears, which make the most of the 85 horsepower engine’s power curve and allows pretty comfortable 50-55 MPH cruising. The chassis is almost all factory equipment except for an upgrade to hydraulic brakes. Henry Ford never really trusted the “juice” brakes, and stuck to his levers and cables far longer than most other manufacturers. But by 1938, the writing was on the wall and his son, Edsel, finally convinced his father to update the brakes on the new Fords. This car, originally built with the old mechanical brakes, has been updated with later Ford hydraulics for reliability and improved stopping power. Although it’s not original, it’s a virtually invisible (the 1939 components look as authentic as 1934 components would) bolt-on upgrade that makes a BIG difference in safety and I can’t condemn the restorer for making that choice. Rolling stock consists of original 16-inch welded wire spoke wheels and 6.00x16 whitewall tires with tubes, just as it would have been in 1934. There’s a matching fifth wheel and tire mounted to the rear of the car with a metal cover for decoration. Hubcaps are reproduction V8 units that are in great condition. Open those front-opening “suicide” doors, and inside you’ll discover an authentically restored tan broadcloth interior. Up front is a pair of what you might call “bucket” seats, which move individually and tilt forward to allow access to the rear seat. I have extremely fond memories of sitting in the front seat of my father’s car, looking out over that hood at the play of light and reflections between the headlight, fender, and hood, and it all came back to me on this car. The dashboard has been restored with a painted woodgrain that doesn’t look 100% authentic to my eye, but passable, and is full of original, unrestored gauges. The speedometer has a gorgeous slender pointer and elegant numbers, while there is a capillary-style gas gauge to the left, and a temperature gauge to the right. Someone has added aftermarket temperature and oil pressure gauges to a pod under the dashboard, along with buttons for the original horn and a large aftermarket horn under the passenger’s side of the hood. There’s also a chrome button that triggers the starter, and a pair of aftermarket knobs that control the headlights and fog lamps. The steering wheel is an original hard rubber piece that just feels great in your hands, and the single windshield wiper has been upgraded with an electric motor in place of the vacuum-powered one (which never worked going up hills or at high speeds because there was no vacuum in the engine). The back seat is incredibly spacious and even though this is not a large car, you’ll be astounded by the amount of stretch-out space back there. The knobs and handles are original, and there’s an original owner’s manual in the glove box. If you’re looking for a great old car to drive and enjoy, you could do much worse than this ’34 Ford. The flathead provides good power and decent cruising ability, the brakes are up to the task of stopping this relative lightweight, and it really is a great looking car. These cars are also very safe investments, since real 1934 Fords are becoming increasingly rare as hot-rodders scoop them up to modify, and hold their values accordingly. This one is just too nice to cut up, and it would be a real shame to give up all this great originality to build another “me too” ’34 Ford rod, but if that’s what you’re into, this car would be an easy project without any serious needs in the metal-working department. If this were mine, however, I’d leave it alone and just drive and enjoy it, thinking back to all those great years listening to the V8 hum, enjoying the smell of the slightly oil-rich exhaust, and appreciating those classic good looks. Go ahead, give it a drive and tell me you haven’t fallen in love, too.


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