- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2007

Right after World War II, Ford — like every other automaker in the world — produced cars as fast as possible, arbitrarily picking a date in February 1947 to switch from building 1946 models to 1947 models. According to Bill Selley, who owns a 1947 Ford Super Deluxe coupe, there were only a couple of cosmetic changes from the former year to the latter. Mr. Selley says his car was manufactured in early March 1947, and though the registration and title show that the car is indeed a 1947 model, it still has the 1946 rectangular parking lights and dual trim pieces on the trunk lid.

Mr. Selley still recalls that during his high school days, a classmate of his in Fairhaven, Mass., had a similar car that had been hot rodded. At the time, Mr. Selley thought that was the most desirable car there was, and 50 years later he hasn’t changed his mind.

The 1947 Ford, which he purchased in April 2005, was restored almost a decade earlier. He says records indicate that the 16.5-foot-long coupe was originally a West Virginia car and sold new with a base price of $1,410. Ford made 80,830 similar models in 1947.

Beneath the hood is the original 239-cubic-inch flathead V-8 engine with an output rated at 100 horsepower. A dual downdraft carburetor is positioned above the venerable engine and supports the oil bath air cleaner. Mr. Selley upgraded the Ford with a dual exhaust system, which he says costs him points at judged auto shows. The owner says the unmistakable sound that tumbles out of the dual exhaust pipes is worth a few points at judging time.

“The running gear is original,” Mr. Selley says, “and it burns no oil.”

Even though the car is not equipped with an overdrive unit, Mr. Selley reports that while rolling along on 6.00x16-inch four-ply tires, the 3,190-pound car delivers 14 to 15 miles per gallon on the highway. The gasoline tank holds 17 gallons. He can also turn his Ford around in a 41-foot circle.

Supporting a 360 degree chrome-plated horn ring, the shoulder-wide steering wheel matches the metal part of the dashboard. The plastic parts have been replaced and, of course, near the center of the dashboard are his-and-hers ash trays. Designers aimed to make the dashboard symmetrical with the 100 mph speedometer on the left side and a matching clock on the right side. “The clock keeps perfect time,” Mr. Selley says in amazement.

Under the dashboard on the passenger side is a three-door heater. That heater, in addition to an AM radio, white sidewall tires and a swan neck right side mirror constitute the options on Mr. Selley’s car.

The exterior of the curvaceous coupe probably appears in better condition now than when it left the factory 60 years ago. The blue paint is virtually flawless, and the leading edge of both rear fenders is protected by a black rubber gravel guard. The wheels were not ignored during the repainting process and now sport the correct pinstriping of three concentric rings on each wheel between the hubcap and the beauty trim ring.

Even the Ford script logo in the rear bumper and the indentations in the grille are neatly filled with red paint, as is each individual hubcap.

Mr. Selley reports that the glass in each of the nine windows is original. The passengers in the back seat can push open the rear windows, which are hinged toward the front of the car.

As for the gracefully curved chrome-plated swan neck mirrors, Mr. Selley has high praise for the driver’s side mirror. “You can’t see the right one from the driver’s seat,” he laments. Still, it is beautiful and does add symmetry to the appearance of the Ford.

Fluids important to the operation of the Ford include five quarts of oil and 22 quarts of water in the cooling system. Mr. Selley points out that there are no windshield washers on his car, and the windshield wipers are vacuum powered. It is a moot point, however, because the likelihood of him driving the car in the rain is remote.

During the hot summer months, Mr. Selley explains how relief is obtained by turning the hand crank on both doors to open the wing vent windows. If the redirected air flow to the inside of the cabin isn’t sufficient to cool the occupants, there is one more step to take.

“You push open the cowl ventilator and you’ve got air conditioning,” he says. To be more precise, that would be 1947-Ford-style air conditioning.