Usually it’s the high dollar, top-of-the-line automobiles that receive special treatment. However, this is the incredible tale of a 1938 Ford Deluxe four-door sedan that had a base price in 1938 of $770, yet received white-glove treatment.
This handsome black Ford was built in February 1938 and shipped to Wisconsin, where it was purchased by Abram Wessel. He drove it on 6.00x16-inch tires to his home in Brandon, Wis.
For more than 30 years he had his five-passenger Ford serviced exclusively at the local Ford dealership. He reportedly never left home in the car if rain were falling. His Ford was always garaged and never driven in the winter months. From the first snow until spring, his well-protected Ford sat out each winter in a garage.
Upon the death of the original owner in the early 1970s, the car was sold by his grandson to a dealer in antique automobiles. He, in turn, sold the Ford to a car collector in Maryland, who kept the unmolested car garaged for 18 years until 1988. That’s when Richard Bergmann bought the car. He also kept the car safely garaged.
After Mr. Bergmann died, his longtime friend Tom Lumpkin purchased the Ford on July 30, 1997, with an authentic 62,800 miles recorded on the odometer. “I had a ball cleaning and fixing things,” Mr. Lumpkin says
Records show the 2,898-pound Ford, one of 90,551 such models manufactured, was delivered with two optional extras, a single amber fog light and a hot-air heater.
Mr. Lumpkin has installed an additional pair of authentic and approved Ford accessories — a third bumper guard in the middle of the front bumper and a left-side exterior gooseneck mirror.
Mr. Lumpkin has discovered that his pristine Ford is equipped with:
85-horsepower V-8 engine.
He also has learned that the 221-cubic-inch flathead engine requires five quarts of oil, 22 quarts of coolant and that the gasoline tank has a 14-gallon capacity. The 15-foot, 9-inch-long Ford has a turning circle of 40 feet and a ground clearance of 8.5 inches.
Because the two-piece windshield can be hand-cranked open at the bottom for ventilation, the vacuum windshield wipers are suspended from the top of the windshield.
A cowl ventilator between the windshield and the engine hood can be opened to scoop in fresh air to cool the ankles of the front-seat occupants.
Along each side of the engine hood are five long horizontal vents to help control engine temperature.. Of course, V-8 emblems promoting the Ford engine are everywhere..
Teardrop headlights were used by Ford designers in 1938 for the second year. They are mounted in the fenders.. Red teardrop taillights were mounted on the rear fenders on either side of the trunk. This was the first year that Ford offered a built-in trunk as standard equipment.
New then and unusual now is the headlight dimmer control on the floor. A novel push-button starter on the dashboard was being tried for the second year.
The oval mirror mounted on the two-piece windshield divider above the unfaded wood-grained dashboard affords the driver a view through the two-piece rear window.
Below that rear window, in the trunk beneath a horizontal shelf, is the original spare tire.
Inside the cabin, the mohair upholstery is a bit worn but in outstanding condition considering that it is approaching 70 years of age.
Mr. Lumpkin has replaced the clutch and brake pedal pads because of wear.
“She burns some oil,” he says, when pushed. “On the highway she’ll pump some oil,” he says. Of course, that’s driving the Ford in conditions that didn’t exist in 1938. “It cruises nicely at 60 or 65 mph,” he says.
The speedometer on the dashboard can register speeds up to 100 mph.
Now that the 67-year-old car has been driven 69,000 miles, Mr. Lumpkin thinks about the 100-mph speedometer and says of his Ford, “It has never been there, but I bet it could.”