Despite Chevrolet taking over the number-one sales position while Ford retooled at the end of Model T production, the new Model A returned Ford to the top spot – if only temporarily. Since the days of the Tin Lizzie, the climate of the automobile market changed dramatically, and Ford had to remain fluid to keep up with rapidly changing trends. Compared to the Model T, the Model A’s tenure was relatively short, but the car had been an undoubted success. For 1932, Ford again aimed to recapture the top of the sales charts with America’s first low-cost V8 passenger car. While it ultimately failed to knock Chevy off the top spot, became a legend in its own right, bringing eight-cylinder power to the people and spawning American hot-rod culture.
The V8 was the cornerstone of the lineup throughout the 1930s and beyond. The styling evolved quickly, with changes made on an annual basis to keep the car fresh and competitive. For the 1935 model year, the Ford V8 got a heavily revised chassis for greater refinement, along with new styling. The following year, Holden "Bob" Koto for Briggs Manufacturing Company tweaked the design to keep it fresh for buyers. The beautiful car had fully skirted fenders, with a new, simplified radiator and hood treatment that gave the car a graceful, elegant appearance with the impression of speed even while parked. Further enhancing the modern look were new stamped artillery wheels, which replaced wire wheels once and for all. Ford continued to offer a wide range of open body styles while its competitors trended toward coupes and sedans. While Chevrolet and Plymouth barely built 8,000 convertibles combined, Ford’s tally approached 20,000. The efforts were not enough to retake the top sales spot from Chevrolet, but the little Ford V8 has gone on to become the preferred choice for collectors, restorers, and hobbyists and is a milestone car in the history of the Ford Motor Company.
This 1936 Ford V8 is a marvelous example of the rare and desirable Deluxe Cabriolet. Finished in Cordoba Tan with a Poppy Red pinstripe and tan interior, this car is one of the special so-called “Easter Edition” models which Henry would roll out on an annual basis, featuring unique colors and equipment. Finished in colors from the Lincoln catalog, and equipped with a Greyhound mascot, polished wheel spokes, and additional interior décor, it is comparable to the later “Super Deluxe” models, to use Ford’s parlance. This example has enjoyed many years of care and attention in the hands of enthusiastic collectors. The earliest history is not known, however this car was discovered in the late 1970s near Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota. Owned by an elderly woman, it was found in remarkably original condition. Two brothers from the area were able to purchase the Ford from her, and thankfully they chose to return it to factory-fresh standards. The brothers embarked on an extensive restoration, resulting in an AACA National First Prize in 1981. Since then, the Ford Cabriolet has enjoyed a charmed existence, enjoyed regularly and maintained in excellent condition with a light and appealing patina.
The Cordoba tan paintwork is in very good condition with a consistent and glossy finish showing only a few minor imperfections consistent with age on close inspection. The body is excellent, with all original steel panels and factory correct detailing. It retains its original trim and Deluxe-specific accessories, including dual tail lights, a rear-mounted spare with painted metal cover, chrome trim around the windscreen and grille, and dual fog lamps. It rides on the correct polished wheels, fitted with Firestone wide whitewall tires and original hub caps. The plating and brightwork all presents in excellent order, with straight bumpers and trim.
Beautiful tan leather is used on the seats and door panels of the two-passenger cockpit, with matching leather on the rumble seat. The upholstery is in excellent condition, remaining incredibly supple considering the time since the restoration. It is pleasingly broken-in and well-suited to casual driving and club tours. A highly-optioned car, it includes a banjo steering wheel, woodgrained dash, and door caps, and even a factory radio. The convertible top (with roll-up side windows for superior weather protection) is trimmed in tan canvas, with a matching boot.
Power comes via the standard 85 horsepower V8 with a single downdraft carburetor. Ford’s Flathead is one of the most significant engines of all time and has long been revered for its power, economy, and surprising refinement, particularly at such a low price point. This car lives up to that legend with crisp and smooth running and is an absolute joy to drive. At idle it is remarkably quiet, with just a hint of the signature V8 Ford burble. Performance is snappy thanks to the generous power output, lightweight body, and easy-shifting 3-speed manual transmission. This car has the bonus of a Columbia 2-speed rear axle to improve cruising ability even further. Underhood detailing is executed to a high standard, with correct paint finishes on the engine and accessories, and proper fittings and hardware, all appearing clean and with minimal signs of use.
With its factory V8 power and handsome styling, it is no wonder the 1936 Ford has long been a favorite car among hot rodders and customizers. Given that Ford built just 4,616 Deluxe Cabriolets in 1936, and so few of those have survived unscathed, it is extremely rare to find correctly restored, original cars such as this one. We love the charming and friendly nature of these early V8 Fords, and this car’s impressive presentation and broken-in charm will no doubt bring many years of motoring enjoyment to its next keeper.