16-17 August 2013

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Lot 133

1938 Ford DeLuxe Station Wagon

  • Chassis no. 18-4551770

Sold for $77,000

Model 81A. 85 bhp, 221 cu. in. L-head V-8 engine, three-speed manual, solid front axle and live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 112 in.

  • Sympathetic restoration to preserve originality
  • Rebuilt 24-stud engine
  • New Coach Maroon paint

The 1938 model year was doubly significant for Ford station wagons. It was the first year that Ford’s Standard and DeLuxe series were differentiated by their front-end sheet metal. Through 1940, each year’s Standard cars had hoods and grilles similar to the previous year’s DeLuxe, with slight differences, while DeLuxe cars had a completely different look. For wagons in particular, 1938 marked a milestone: they were finally recognized as passenger cars, elevated from the commercial catalogue.

Standard model cars had a modified 1937-style grille and hood, while the DeLuxe models, the first to be styled by E.T. Gregorie’s new design section, adopted a heart-shaped motif. Sedans also got new bodies that had a curved fastback contour. All cars were available with the 85-brake horsepower V-8, while Standard models could be ordered with the economy 136-cubic inch, 60-brake horsepower unit, which had become available in 1937. In mid-year, Ford upgraded the 85-brake horsepower engine by adding three head bolts per side; these became known as “24-stud” engines.

On station wagons, the spare tire was moved inside, attached to the bulkhead behind the driver’s seat, and furnished with a canvas or artificial leather slip-over cover. The body was newly revised, with the five horizontal panels from 1935–1937 giving way to a two-panel configuration. For 1938, it also seems that the station wagon was built only as a DeLuxe model, with 6,944 built.

The term “restored original,” heard all too often, sounds like an oxymoron, but in this case, it is not. It was done with a process known as “cataloguing,” where the car is disassembled, the parts are refinished or replaced as necessary (and only where necessary), and then every piece is returned to its original location. This process preserves the character and patina wherever possible, while producing a clean, tidy, and well-performing car.

This car spent most of its life in Ridgefield, Connecticut, where it served as a utility vehicle at Locust Shade Farm, whose name is still on the doors. When found, it was laboring under decades of grime and dirt, the removal of which revealed much desirable originality worth saving. The interior is largely original, with only the seats having been reupholstered and new floor mats fitted. The steering wheel and dashboard show much patina, with some thin paint and a few scratches. The glass is all original Ford-script type, showing a bit of delamination. The wiring is original, as is much of the rubber weather stripping, which is sound but showing the discoloration and checks of age.

The Coach Maroon paint is new, and the brightwork has been replated or, in the case of stainless steel, polished. All is very nice, with no pits or scratches. The top fabric is believed original, and the original wood has been superbly varnished. The 24-stud V-8 starts on the button, and when driven by an RM specialist, the shifting was smooth and the mechanical brakes were sturdy. The 53,000 miles shown are believed correct.

Because of their popularity (more than 120,000 were built between 1932 and 1948), Ford woodies are comparatively plentiful today. Examples with the originality of this car, however, are not. Therefore, it represents an uncommon opportunity.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more