- All steel body
- 3-year restoration
- Ford 239ci flathead V8
- 3-speed manual transmission
- 2-speed Columbia rear axle
- Genuine leather interior
Do a Google image search for “1937 Ford Cabriolet” and you'll be greeted by page after page of mostly elaborate customs and fiberglass bodied cars. While we're all for radical builds, this '37 Cabriolet felt like a breathe of fresh air when it rolled into the showroom. Built with an eye toward the hot rods of the late 50s and early 60s, the car was revitalized over a three-year period concluding in early 2013. With an all-steel body, a flathead Ford V8, and a three-speed manual transmission, the basic specs could describe a stock car but a quick glance is all it takes to know otherwise. From the Offenhauser heads to the up-fitted Columbia two-speed rear, all the traditional pieces add up to one impressive ride. If you've got a passion for vintage hardware and speed, this 1937 Ford Cabriolet delivers in every way.
Like some of the best restorations, this one begins with somewhat of a barn-find tale. The car was taken off the road in 1961 and stashed in a Connecticut garage until 2010, when it was brought to light by the current owner. The car was found mostly intact and so the decision was made to use its original pieces to create something with a vintage flare. Work began on the Henry Ford steel with a one-piece replacement floor from Bob Drake. Once everything was whole again, the body was massaged into a flat canvas for fresh coat of DuPont single stage Spectramaster Yellow paint sprayed by Wide Open Customs in Roanoke, VA. The top coat is accented by a hand-painted red pinstripe while a black cloth top keeps the elements where they belong.
Step in for a closer look and you begin to realize just how many factory pieces are in play. At the front, a correct bumper extends out beyond the fenders while a pair of Ford-branded headlights stare forward. The distinctive grille is painted to match while, behind it, the hood sides have been removed for a better look at the engine within. The glass is crystal clear and the top, when up, fits well. The side profiles offers clean rounded lines completed by full fenders with fresh rubber steps. Aside from chrome door handles and even shut lines, there is very little to distract onlookers from the glossy paintwork. Follow the sloping rear toward a second chrome bumper topped by compact taillights and a left-justified license plate bracket. Below, two round exhaust pipes jut out below, hinting at the car's performance edge.
Nothing says “vintage Ford” better than a flathead V8 and that's exactly what you'll find between the frame rails of this Cabriolet. The block is a 239ci variant from 1953, the final year of American flathead production. By then, the design was at the top of its game, producing 110hp in stock form thanks to Ford's nearly annual revisions to the engine. Since then, the aftermarket has taken over, bringing the compact V8 to heights unimaginable when this car rolled off the assembly line. Mountain Motors in Roanoke, VA tapped into that aftermarket to create this show-ready powerplant. Inside, an Isky cam and lifters were added while visible updates include Offenhauser heads, an Offenhauser intake manifold and a pair of Stromberg 97s rebuilt by Don Baxter and fed fuel by an electric in-line pump. The electrical system has been upgraded to 12-volt while a Mallory distributor brings the ignition system into modern times. Turn the key and the engine fires to life, settling into a dignified idle amplified by headers that exhale through a dual exhaust system with glasspack-style mufflers. The whole setup is dressed to the nines with fresh red paint, new hardware, and even some retro pinstriping on the oil filter housing.
With its pebble-pushing stance, you might expect a host of modern hardware underneath this Ford but a quick look underneath reveals little more than period-correct updates to a show-ready chassis. In the center of all the freshened hardware, a three-speed manual transmission with Lincoln Zephyr gears offers full control of the flathead in front of it. The Zephyr influence continues out back where a Columbia two-speed rear axle offers 4.10 gears to get the car moving and 2.76 gears to keep the revs down at speed. Just push in the clutch and pull a lever to engage the system. Around the period-correct drivetrain, a rebuilt factory leaf spring suspension hangs in place. The original front axle has been drilled and dropped 4-inches to get the stance right while rebuilt friction shocks help absorb the bumps. Naturally, steering is a manual effort as are the drum brakes which derive their stopping power from a dual reservoir master cylinder. Under those sweeping fenders, 16-inch steel wheels wrapped in a combination of 5.00/5.25-16 and 7.00-16 Firestone Deluxe Champion wide white walls connect the vintage iron to the asphalt.
When it comes to interiors, nothing looks or feels quite like genuine leather. Step within five feet of this cabriolet and the material choice is immediately recognizable by smell alone. Kings Upholstery in Roanoke, VA took on the task of wrapping dyed red hides around a bench seat rebuilt with LeBaron Bonney seat springs. Below, fresh carpet covers that Bob Drake floor while the tall shifter pokes through in the center. Slide into the driver side to admire the simple but elegant factory dash complete with its original gauges. The ashtray is free and functional and the passenger side clock remains in place (though not currently functional). All the factory pulls are in place and, in front of the driver, the original steering wheel still offers control of the front wheels. Behind the front seats, what appears to be a decklid is actually the back of the rumble seat. The space is finished in matching leather and offers a great place for luggage or your most compact friends. This is a no frills cabin but, thanks to first-rate workmanship, you won't even notice the lack of modern distractions.
The sale of this Ford includes both hood sides, four restored hubcaps, and a vintage license plate should you want to return the car to a nearly stock look. There are a handful of post-paint restoration pictures as well as two partial cans of paint that can be used for touch up.
The traditional hot rod scene is huge and, looking over this Ford, it's no wonder why. The clean unaltered lines are enough to lure just about anyone in while the rumble of the flathead and scent of genuine leather seal the deal. The workmanship on this car is second to none and its mechanical feel will make you forget your daily driver within just a few miles. If you're ready to revisit simpler times in one impressive Ford, act fast on this '37 Cabriolet!
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What Customers Are Saying
After hearing good things about the people at RK Motors, I contacted them regarding consignment of my street rod. I found Tony Klein to be a pleasure to work with. He was very professional and forthcoming in our communications. He evaluated my vehicle and made suggestions of enhancements which would help ensure the desired result would be achieved in the marketing of the vehicle. We agreed on an acceptable sale price. Following the completion of the recommended items, I brought the vehicle to RK for consignment. After a thorough inspection and correction of some minor issues at what I considered a fair price, the vehicle was offered for sale. It sold quickly with me receiving the agreed value. I would have to repeat the recommendation that I received. RK Motors does what they say they will do, and obtains for the seller a fair and agreed value. What more could you ask for?Doug C.