Saturday, September 1, 2012

San Jose Street Sighting - 1937 Ford Fordor Touring Sedan

You see them at every swap meet and cars for sale corral: The project car. Frequently it's something covered in dirt and leaves that someone lugged out of a barn after thirty years. Sometimes it's a wrecked vehicle that needs a rebuild. And sometimes it's a car that runs but is ugly and someone either ran out of time and money or simply realized they were in completely over their head. I suspect this car is the latter.

It's a 1937 Ford V8 Fordor sedan, and at a glance it looks like an easy restoration. For one thing, it's complete and in running condition. What's not to love about a 75-year-old car where all the pieces are there? Well, even a complete car can be a complete headache if you don't know what you're doing. Clearly there's more to restoring a car than just spraying the body with black primer and slapping on a set of Chrysler minivan knockoff hubcaps from Walmart. This person has gone that extra step and included the all-important pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror.
I'm hopeful that this car gets a proper restoration. As it sits, it doesn't look very good. There's the 'rat rod' and the 'suede' look and this is more the 'half-assed' look. The body appears to be in decent condition, as is much of the chrome, but the body seams are crusty and I shudder to think how much rust may be hidden under that primer. The hood ornament is especially pitted. The headlights are not stock items; they appear to have come from a 1939 Ford Standard. This car has some accessories installed already, like the vintage windshield shade, brand-new tires and blue-dot taillights. Now it just needs the right person to finish the job.


  1. yea...i just cant get past the ghetto hubcaps. (urp...)

  2. I can't believe I found this article, but I ended up purchasing this vehicle in August 2015 from a gentleman in Palo Alto and trailered it to Reno Nevada where I've been working on it bit by bit. I loved your writeup by the way. And yes, it still had the ghetto hubcaps on it when I bought it. Those, the rear license plate frame, and the visor were the dead giveaways as I was looking at the photos you posted. It did sit uncovered and suffered the elements from the time your photos were taken and when I purchased it. All of the chrome except for the bumpers were pitted and the window glass was really bubbled, but it was a complete and (roughly) running project car that I couldn't pass up. The previous owner was a body shop guy but not a mechanic. What he was unaware of and I found out a month after I purchased it was that it has the original 1937 flathead and 3 speed transmission. Yes, a "numbers matching" car. I use quotes because there's no serial number on the engine, only the transmission and that number matches the frame VIN. It also has the original cable operated brakes which will definitely be upgraded. Even though it's a numbers matching car, there's been enough done to it already to not worry about being a purist and try to keep it stock. There was bad rust in the engine block and cooling system, so I recently replaced the water pumps, added an aluminum radiator, electric fan, and Derale variable speed fan control box. I also added an MSD box, MSD coil, and crab-style electric distributor to add reliability to it. My brother and I upgraded the stock exhaust manifold and single exhaust to wrapped headers and dual 40 series flow masters, so it breathes much better and sounds like the meanest 85 horsepower 37 Ford around. I've already purchased Dakota Digital Gauges, a 4" dropped I-beam axle, and 90% of the components to add air bag suspension to it when I have the time. But because the the wheels and tires that are currently on it (same as your pictures) are slightly too wide to tuck into the fenders, I'll have to purchase new wheels and tires (I decided on artillery wheels and wide white walls) but in order to get the wheels made, I have to have the brake dimensions so I have to do the disc brake conversion first.

    Hopefully this was the kind of full-circle story that you never expected to hear when you posted your article! I never, in a million years, thought I would find my car on the internet like this, so it was a treat for me. In the off-chance anyone knows more about this car, I'd love to hear about it.

    1. I'm glad to hear you're showing it some love! What sort of paint scheme do you have planned for it?

    2. I'm still torn on that. I'm leaning to a traditional gloss black, but we all know the misery that comes with building and maintaining a black classic car. I'm sure the color will pick itself as it gets closer to finished but that's a long way off.