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Lot 136

1940 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon

  • Chassis no. 185705236

Sold for $165,000

Model 01A. 85 bhp, 221 cu. in. Flathead V8 engine, three-speed manual transmission with Columbia rear end, solid front axle and live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 112"

Relations between Ford Motor Company and Murray Corporation of America, builder of Ford’s station wagon bodies, deteriorated during 1939. There was some finger-pointing over quality problems, and Murray was experiencing labor problems, which rankled Ford. Despite labor difficulties of its own, Ford had not yet settled with the United Auto Workers. New presses had been installed at the Rouge complex, enabling Ford to do much of its own stamping, which greatly reduced the volume of work outsourced to Murray.

This background of events led Ford to consider in-house production of the station wagons. Discussion with the management of the Iron Mountain operation, which was then providing the wood parts to Murray for assembly, resulted in a proposal for all body assembly to be done in the northern Michigan locale, and that bodies be sent to assembly plants fully finished and trimmed. The change took place at the beginning of the 1940 model year. Two hundred were completed by the first week of August, 1939, shipped for assembly in advance of the new model’s September 29 introduction date. There were 18 assembly plants in 1940, but wagon production was highly concentrated at a few of them. After Dearborn, the largest producers of wagons were Edgewater, New Jersey, Richmond, California and Chicago, in that order.

The bodies took on a much different appearance. The roofline was subtly altered, becoming more rounded at the windshield header. Panel spacing was changed, such that the lower panel became narrower, and the rear quarter panels were consolidated into one piece. The rear doors, formerly hinged at the back, “suicide” style, now swung toward the front. Glass was standard all around. The spare tire, housed inside in 1938 and ’39, on the back of the driver’s seat, was returned to the tailgate, where it had been located from 1935 to 1937. Deluxe wagons were given the option of maple or birch framing, while Standards came in maple only. Darker-colored gumwood began to be used for panels, in addition to birch, in both series. The choice of material was random. Bodies were given three coats of varnish, hand-sanded between each application.

Deluxe woodies also got an adjustable front seat, the same assembly used in the convertible. Seats for the Deluxe had the cushions faced in genuine brown Spanish grain leather. Dearborn management was pleased. Quality increased over that of the bodies built by Murray, at lower unit cost, and sales improved, topping 11,000.

As all 1940 Fords, the station wagons had sealed beam headlamps and the new column-mounted transmission shifter. The steel disk wheels reverted to a small bolt circle, as the mounting lugs were moved toward the center of the hub. Three engines were available, the popular 221 cubic inch 85 hp V8, the small 136 cubic inch 60 hp V8 (installed in just two Standard wagons), and the larger, 239 cubic inch 95 hp V8 from the new Mercury, which was fitted to 95 Deluxe station wagons.

This 1940 Deluxe station wagon still wears the hallmark of its career in the tourist industry. A period transporter for the Charlotte Inn, at Edgartown on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, it is one of two such veterans in the collection. A friend of Nick Alexander’s had seen it while vacationing on the island and left his card with the typical note “if you ever want to sell...” A few years later he got the call, the innkeeper saying he’d found another woodie he liked even better. This car emigrated to California, and Mr. Alexander bought it from his friend in 1996. It is something of a celebrity, having appeared on the cover of New York magazine in April 1984.

Its Iron Mountain maple and contrasting gum wood panels were skillfully varnished to maximize the appeal of the 70-year old wood. The roof is new black artificial leather, the body painted in black and exhibiting a deep shine. The glass shows only slight clouding at the edges and the brightwork is all excellent. There is a script grille guard mounted to the front bumper guards, and a locking chrome gas cap. The running board rubber is new and a nice touch is found on the hood side “Ford Deluxe” scripts, which are outlined with an attractive red accent.

The seats have correct new seamed brown leather facings, the front furnished with lap belts for two passengers. The floors have new black rubber mats. The instrument panel is excellently restored in correct Monaida Maroon and Copper Sand Metallic, and has an excellent plastic instrument bezel. The car is equipped with a Ford radio with windshield header-mounted antenna, and a Deluxe Goodrich heater, the latter in original condition. A chrome outside mirror is mounted on the driver’s door hinge, and accessory directional signals, their control clamped to the steering column, have been subtly integrated into the exterior lights.

The engine is clean and painted Ford green and the entire compartment is authentically detailed as it would have been when the car was new, which is to say fairly plain and utilitarian. Quite prominent are the correct Ford radiator hoses. The chassis and underbody are painted black, and are clean but not detailed. There is evidence of fairly regular road use. The car is fitted with Goodyear 6.50-16 blackwall tires, installed in 1998, and the tailgate-mounted spare is protected with a metal cover.

The car’s body number dates from March 1940. Current mileage shown is slightly over 87,000 and like all cars in the Nick Alexander collection, this Deluxe station wagon runs and drives extremely well, its Columbia rear axle making it especially useful for highway trips. Additionally, Tim Krehbiel, Alexander Restoration’s ace engine builder, used a Mercury four-inch crankshaft and later Mercury camshaft to boost power, while retaining the stock appearance. The car is registered with California year-of-manufacture plates 8C611, which are included in the sale. It represents a chance to own a Ford woodie with true New England island heritage.


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Alexander Weaver

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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