- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2000

From coast to coast and border to border Robert Stewart has been just about everywhere in his 1946 Ford Super Deluxe two-door sedan.
When he wasn't crisscrossing this country he took his trusty Ford to Okinawa and Japan, all the while keeping the Ford in daily service.
The saga of this man and his machine begins in Holyoke, Mass., where Mr. Stewart had been assigned to the Air Transport Command at Westover Air Force Base.
Like everyone else in post-World War II America he was searching for a new set of wheels. He was visiting the Charles E. Godere Ford dealership in Holyoke in February 1947 when lady luck smiled on him.
An elderly woman had ordered a maroon Super Deluxe two-door sedan. However, when it arrived at the dealership she changed her mind.
Upon hearing the news, Mr. Stewart reached for his checkbook, and said, "I'll take it."
Although the base price was $1,260 he paid $1,535, because the car had a few accessories and, after all, it was postwar America. He still has the receipt from the dealer dated Feb. 17, 1947, showing Capt. Robert Stewart had paid in full.
Never did he think he would still be driving the same car almost 54 years later.
Within a week the Air Force transferred him to Berlin. Before leaving he found a friendly Massachusetts farmer who would rent him space for $100 in his barn for 2* years.
"We pushed the cow out and drove the Ford in," Mr. Stewart relates. He then drained all the fluids, sealed the interior of his brand new car and "pickled the engine."
Instead of going home after his tour of duty in Germany, he went to the Azores.
Eventually, he got back to the United States assigned to an air base in Orlando, Fla.
Getting the Ford out of mothballs Mr. Stewart hitched up a luggage trailer to haul all his worldly belongings and drove to his new home. Remember, this was accomplished before President Eisenhower started the Interstate highway system.
The 114-inch wheelbase gave a smooth ride.
All of Mr. Stewart's cars are equipped with both trailer hitches and tow bars. During his many moves he has towed some with the others or switched halfway depending on the circumstances.
When the military sent him to Seattle so he could ship out for Okinawa, he took the Ford along because it had proved its trustworthiness.
After driving around the few unimproved roads on Okinawa awhile, Mr. Stewart's next assignment was Japan. The Ford made that trip on a Navy LST.
During all his travels, Mr. Stewart maintained his Ford keeping up with all the oil changes. With a Sears Roebuck charge account with the San Francisco office, parcel post delivery of spare parts was possible wherever he went.
Probably the worst treatment the car ever received was when it was shipped back across the Pacific to Oakland, Calif. Mr. Stewart says his car was knocked around, dented and damaged. He suspects someone slept in it from the debris left behind and a cigarette hole burned in the upholstery.
He had the well-traveled Ford trucked to Tucumcari, N.M., and later drove it to Amarillo, Texas. While there, he had the 239.4-cubic-inch flathead V-8 rebuilt.
With 25 years in the Air Force, he retired in 1966 and moved to Falls Church.
After 200,000 miles the old Ford was tired. Mr. Stewart put the 3,190-pound car on blocks for the next 13 years.
Not one to leave an old friend in distress, in 1978 Mr. Stewart took his Ford apart. "It's been a mechanical marvel," he said.
Reupholstering, rechroming, repainting and rebuilding took place before the final reassembling.
Throughout the years Mr. Stewart has always found needed parts easy to find through a couple of New York suppliers. "I can get almost any part overnight," he said. "Besides, they also dispense technical advice.
"This has been the only car that went in any weather," Mr. Stewart said. Ford built 163,370 cars like Mr. Stewart's, but it's doubtful that many achieved 222,000 miles and are still being used on a daily basis.
"It has been good transportation," Mr. Stewart said. "All you have to do is keep fixing things when they break to keep on going." He's been doing that for more than half a century.
The rebuilt 100-horsepower flathead V-8 engine still runs strong, although it's harder to start than in the past. Mr. Stewart finds that since a stroke Oct. 2, 1999, he has difficulty maintaining his friendly old Ford.
"I've had to learn to talk, walk, and swallow again," Mr. Stewart explains, and it's a struggle to keep his Ford in ready-to-go condition.
It's always difficult to part company with a friend who has been with you through thick and thin, but in your heart you know when the time has come.
Mr. Stewart for years has fought off the hot rodders who wanted to cut up his Ford. He has found a young man in Herndon, Kenneth E. Summer, who will appreciate the Ford for what it's worth and will take appropriate care of his vehicle. Earlier this week Mr. Summer picked up the Ford and Mr. Stewart gave him about 50 boxes of spare parts as well. "He'd better take good care of that Ford," Mr. Stewart ruminates, "because it's the best car I ever had."

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