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Lot 137

1941 Ford C11ADF Staff Car

  • Chassis no. 11A502C

Sold for $71,500

Model C11 ADF. 95 bhp, 239.4 cu. in. Flathead V8 engine, three-speed manual transmission with Columbia rear end, solid front axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring, full-floating live rear axle with longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 114"

The United States did not enter World War II until December 8, 1941. However, sub rosa preparations had begun several years earlier, some efforts taking a circuitous route through Canada. As early as 1935, the British had laid the groundwork for a manufacturing base in their North American dominion. Ford of Canada began work on a military truck designed around a set of government specifications. Very quickly General Motors became involved and the result was the Canadian Military Pattern truck, or CMP, built by both companies. Like the early Jeeps developed for the U.S. Army, a common design was used, but each manufacturer supplied its own engines and drive trains. The vehicles were under test by 1939, and by the time the war in Europe heated up in 1940 full-scale production had begun. More than 400,000 were built through 1945.

For personnel transportation and general staff use, converted station wagons were employed, using a variant of the Ford passenger chassis. Two versions, a five-passenger and a seven-passenger, were constructed, using as a base the 1941 Ford V8, Model 11A. As with the CMP trucks, the construction was carried out by Ford of Canada. Bodies were the standard Iron Mountain station wagon type. The seven passenger car was built on a standard wagon chassis and suspension, but with the larger 95 hp Mercury engine. It had Fabrikoid upholstery, a type of artificial leather, and was equipped with blackout curtains, rifle clips, a map container, first aid kit, POW cans, a fire extinguisher and tools. The ignition was shielded for radio interference suppression.

The five-passenger car was a heavy duty version, also with the Mercury engine but using a full-floating rear axle from the one-ton truck line, suspended on longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs. An open drive shaft was used and the final drive ratio was 4.1 to 1. The front axle had heavy duty king pins and hubs. Off-road tires in the 9.00-13 size were fitted on special wheels to the six-lug hubs. The seven-passenger car was designated C11 AS, the five passenger nomenclatured C11 ADF, the “F” signifying right-hand drive. In addition to the British Army, many were supplied to other Commonwealth forces. They were later built in 1942 style, as the C21 ADF.

The British units had their heyday in North Africa, where some had hatches cut in the roof for observation purposes. Others, like that of Field Marshal Harold Alexander, had the top removed entirely. Alexander, who later became last British Governor General of Canada, was designated Commander-in-Chief of British forces in the Middle East in 1942. He had his staff car modified in Egypt, before becoming deputy to General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, in 1943. That car is now in the Canadian War Museum at Ottawa.

It is not recorded just how many were built, but estimates fall in the 1,000 range. CMP trucks are quite common in the collector community, and occasionally they are still seen in civilian commercial use. In contrast, only about ten C11 ADFs are known to survive.

The body contours on Nick Alexander’s C11 ADF are excellent, as is the Iron Mountain wood body, its number dating from November 1940. The whole of it is painted in Olive Drab, and it is matched by an artificial leather top in the same color. The glass, all with Ford script, looks new. There is no brightwork, the entire vehicle being subdued with the flat-toned paint. The right headlamp is blanked off, the left fitted with a blackout shade. The only other exterior lights are at the rear, where twin military style blackout taillights are fitted. Bumpers front and rear consist of heavy channel iron. Replica military insignia have been affixed to the front.

As its nomenclature indicates, the car is right-hand drive, with the column shift lever extending to the left. The seats are upholstered in replica Fabrikoid, and the dashboard, including the plastic, repeats the Olive Drab paint of the exterior. A tilting table is attached to the back of the front seat so that an officer could sit in the second seat with maps spread out to command his troops in battle. The running boards are NOS and the correct steering wheel is that of the Deluxe 1941 station wagon, which was then the more basic of the two models offered.

The engine is painted in Olive Drab. The chassis and underbody are also in Olive Drab, and are clean. The exhaust system, which exits ahead of the left rear tire, looks new.16-inch rims have been mated to six-lug centers, and fitted with 7.50-16 LT truck tires.

The cargo area at the rear is covered by a parcel shelf, with a tool box underneath. The shelf tilts upward, revealing mounting for tools on the under side. When carried, a spare tire would be located beside the tool box.

Purchased from a Canadian collector in January 2004, this car was then subjected to a complete restoration. It is currently registered in California with license number 6GWL518.

Of the extant C11 ADFs, only four are known to have been restored. The car certainly represents a very rare opportunity to acquire a turn-key military vehicle emblematic of a fascinating part of World War II history.


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Alexander Weaver

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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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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

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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

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Gord Duff

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Michael Squire

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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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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

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