16-17 August 2013

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Lot 121

1947 Ford Super DeLuxe Sportsman

  • Chassis no. 799A-1792091
  • Body no. 2760

$225,000 - $275,000

Model 79A. 100 bhp, 239.4 cu. in. L-head V-8 engine, three-speed manual transmission with Columbia overdrive, solid front axle and live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 114 in.

  • Formerly the property of John Woodhead
  • Extremely rare Tiger Maple body
  • Desirable Columbia overdrive
  • Double Dearborn winner

While all Ford woodies are popular, the most revered of all are certainly the Sportsman Convertibles. The Sportsman was reportedly inspired by a Model A that Henry Ford II had built up, using a wood body created by chief designer E.T. “Bob” Gregorie, for use at his Long Island home. In the early part of 1945, Gregorie and his lead illustrator, Ross Cousins, created drawings for a wood-bodied 1946 convertible. A prototype was built at Iron Mountain by taking the skin off an early production convertible and fitting wood in its place. Using as many standard convertible parts as possible helped to simplify manufacture and restrain costs.

Sportsman seats were upholstered in genuine leather facings in tan or red and included French stitching. The front floor mats had color-keyed carpet inserts, and power windows were standard. Announced in September, the first Sportsman was completed in December 1945 and presented to actress Ella Raines at Christmas. In all, 3,629 were built in two years, including 205 Mercurys for 1946 only.

Among woodie connoisseurs, there are not only special models, there are special woods. It is well known that Henry Ford used to stockpile pieces of Birdseye Maple, sometimes finding it in his northern Michigan forests. When building a woodie for a friend or special customer, he often insisted that some Birdseye pieces be incorporated into the body. There is, however, one other type of wood that is even rarer than Birdseye Maple in Ford woodies, Tiger Maple, also known as Curly Maple. This car is a happy confluence of two rarities: Tiger Maple in a Sportsman body.

In contrast to Birdseye Maple, which has circular aberrations resembling birds’ eyes, Tiger Maple has wavy lines, which are created by the undulation of the fibers (not the grain). Often reserved for musical instruments and fine furniture, it was seldom used on automobiles. This car has about 13 pieces of it, principally in the rear quarters. It is surmised that the original owner was a very, very special person to rate such a special car.

In the pretty color of Maize Yellow, a very light hue, almost beige, it looks stunning without being ostentatious. The upholstery is red leather. Only a few blemishes mar the paint; the brightwork is all very good, with no pits, scuffs, or dents. The dashboard is original and completely unrestored. All plastic components are in very good condition, with no checks or cracks. The engine compartment and undercarriage are very clean and correctly appointed. An RM specialist has driven the car and reports that it starts easily and performs wonderfully, with no vibration, and it steers straight as an arrow. It is equipped with a Columbia overdrive, essential for easy travel at today’s speeds, a radio with a header antenna, a heater, fog lights, and dual spotlights.

The current owner purchased it in Arizona, after it had been within the John Woodhead Collection in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Apart from the rear deck mahogany panels, the wood is original, and it has been carefully varnished in the shops of Ford woodie authority Nick Alexander. Some of the upholstery has also been replaced by Alexander’s staff. In Early Ford V-8 Club competition, it has twice won the coveted Dearborn Award for excellence of condition in point judging. As the rarest of the rare, one would search hard to find another.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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