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Lot 134

1940 Ford Standard Station Wagon (Marmon-Herrington)

  • Chassis no. 185820441

Sold for $231,000


Model 01A. 85 bhp, 221 cu. in. Flathead V8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, live front axle with longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs and quarter-elliptic torque springs, live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 113.5"



Conventional wisdom holds that the first American sport utility vehicle was the Willys four-wheel drive station wagon, introduced in July 1949. It’s interesting and ironic then, considering the Ford Explorer’s recent leadership of the SUV market, that Ford produced a V8-powered 4x4 wagon more than a decade earlier, in conjunction with Marmon Herrington.



Marmon-Herrington Incorporated was formed in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1931 by Walter C. Marmon and Colonel Arthur W. Herrington. Marmon had worked with his brother Howard at the Marmon Motor Car Company, tending to the business side of the firm while his sibling directed the engineering. The British-born Herrington had served in the U.S. Army where he worked on the development of all-wheel drive vehicles. The two took over one of the plants of the faltering Marmon car company and began building 4x4 and 6x6 trucks for the Army. Herrington patented a novel drive system for the front wheels, using constant velocity universal joints, which became a crucial part of their vehicles, which were assembled units using Hercules engines. Company output included aircraft refueling trucks, mobile machine shops, barrage balloon winch trucks, reconnaissance trucks, armored cars, scout cars and wreckers. Some of the armored cars and scout cars had four-wheel steering.



In 1932, Marmon-Herrington began building trucks for use in desert sand. Vehicles were built for pipeline construction in Iraq, and a 31-passenger articulated coach was constructed for use on a Baghdad to Damascus route. The same customers purchased a 20-ton semi-trailer combination for Middle Eastern freight operations.



By 1935 they were selling to overseas customers in Persia and Saudi Arabia, and developed a Ford-based tank for the US Army, as well as a trailer to transport it. Designated the CTL-1, it was tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Army called it the Combat Train and it was quite successful, leading to the T-2 scout car for the Ordnance Department. That same year they began converting Ford chassis for civilian markets, initially 1-1/2 ton models. Their first light duty vehicles came in 1937, and by 1939 there were some 56 different models of Marmon-Herrington Ford conversions. They were offered not only as pickups and station wagons, but also in chassis, stake truck, panel truck, coupe, sedan and sedan delivery form, though only with 85 hp V8 engines. At $1,805, the station wagons sold for more than twice the price of a two-wheel drive wagon. Wider tires added $175 to $230 to that figure.



Complete Fords were delivered to Marmon-Herrington’s Indianapolis plant, where the body and powertrain were removed. A four-speed truck transmission was installed, with an 11-inch clutch, and a transfer case was mounted behind it. This was a single-ratio unit, but from 1939 allowed on-demand engagement of the front axle.



The front axle dispensed with the Ford wishbone and transverse leaf spring, substituting longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs, with quarter-elliptics below them to absorb axle torque. A tubular crossmember was added. The front differential was of the Ford type, offset to the right to accept the forward driveshaft from the transfer case, and the tie rods were made in a U shape to clear the driveshaft. The exhaust crossover pipe was also modified for clearance. The rear axle and suspension were left in essentially original Ford configuration, which required raising the body to compensate for the taller front suspension. Axle ratios were low to facilitate low-speed operation over difficult terrain, typically 4.44 to 1. In the process of conversion, the wheelbase was extended an inch and a half. Several sizes of tires were available, most of them on 15-inch rims. Prior to 1939, Marmon-Herrington installed their own hydraulic brakes in place of the Ford mechanical system.



No production records are known to survive for Marmon-Herrington Fords. Since they were essentially hand-built, assembly rate was necessarily slow and output small, even when demand surged during World War II. Marmon-Herrington aficionados report that only ten or a dozen of each year are known to exist.



A First-in-Class winner at Pebble Beach, this Marmon-Herrington Ford is stunning. The body contours show no faults, and the original wood exhibits only the slightest discoloration at joints and bolts. The Cloud Mist Gray paint has a deep gloss and the varnish is fresh and fine. Some of the glass shows minor separation at the edges. The running board rubber is new. Standard model 1940 Fords don’t have much brightwork, but all this car’s meager share is all in excellent condition.



The seats are correctly upholstered in new seamed brown imitation leather. Lap belts for two are installed in front. New black rubber mats line the floor, and the brown dashboard is excellently restored, as are the instruments and Standard steering wheel.



The engine is nicely and correctly detailed in Ford green, without being overdone. A heavy duty oil-bath air cleaner is fitted to the standard carburetor. The chassis and underbody are painted gloss black, and are clean. U.S. Royal 8.00-15 blackwall tires are fitted all around. The matching tailgate-mounted spare is exposed, since it is too large for Ford’s metal covers.



The car was owned by Charles Clark of Framingham, Massachusetts, during the 1950s, purchased in 1954 from Butler Motor Corporation, the local Ford dealer. Nick Alexander acquired it from Francis Carter of Cape Neddick, Maine, in July 2000, and commenced the prize-winning restoration. It was judged by the Early Ford V8 Club in 2001, winning a Dearborn Award at Pismo Beach, California. In 2003 it was entered in the Woodie Class at Pebble Beach, handily winning against substantial competition.



The body number dates from October 1939; conversion by Marmon-Herrington took place some time thereafter. It runs and drives extremely well, and is registered with California year-of-manufacture plates 2K1472, which go with the car.



Marmon-Herrington Fords are rare in any condition. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a prize-winner.

Addendum

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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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+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

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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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+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

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+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

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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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+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

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+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

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+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

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+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

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+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

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+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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+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

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+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

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+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

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+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

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+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