Orig­i­nal ve­hi­cle de­signs mak­ing a come­back among hotrod en­thu­si­asts

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - AUTOS - LARRY D’AR­GIS

BILLED by pub­li­cists as the most stunning Ford yet, 1937 saw sev­eral new styling fea­tures and de­sign changes. Ford had en­gi­neered the abil­ity to stamp large sheet-metal pan­els, giv­ing buy­ers a solid steel roof.

Pre­vi­ously, the roof in­cor­po­rated a wood-and­ma­te­rial cen­tre sec­tion that al­ways aged faster than the car it­self, lead­ing to leaks and road noise. With this prob­lem sec­tion elim­i­nated, the Ford had a solid and quiet ride.

An­other de­sign fea­ture was the head­lamps. In­stead of be­ing mounted on a bar or in a pod on the ra­di­a­tor shell or atop the fend­ers, the head­lamps were in­cor­po­rated into the cat­walk area of the front fend­ers, flank­ing the grille.

The de­sign stylists put for­ward was a stand­out ef­fort to prove stream­lin­ing didn’t have to mean ugly. As time has passed, the almond- or teardrop­shaped head­lamp place­ment that graced the ’37 and many later mod­els has proven to be a de­sign favoured by col­lec­tors and hot-rod­ders alike.

To­day, the hotrod Ford has seen many in­car­na­tions. Ev­ery­thing from primered rat rods to fiber­glass recre­ations have seen the show arena. At one time, only the ba­sic body would be saved and the car to­tally re­con­structed with af­ter­mar­ket pieces pur­chased from a cat­a­logue. The essence of the orig­i­nal car be­came lost to in­di­vid­ual cre­ativ­ity. Not to knock per­son­al­iza­tion, which is what hot-rod­ding is about, but of late, many of those orig­i­nal de­signs have been mak­ing a come­back.

Ron Bax­ter’s in­ter­est in build­ing cars goes back to the 1960s. A mem­ber of the Road Gents car club, he saw his ’57 Chevy No­mad wagon per­ish with 14 other ve­hi­cles in a fire in the club’s garage. Fam­ily and life’s pri­or­i­ties put his car hobby on hold un­til the late 1980s.

Since then, the Win­nipeg­ger has been mak­ing up for lost time. From an­other No­mad to a cou­ple of tri-five Chevys, Bax­ter turned to a ’38 Ford coupe. Af­ter sell­ing the coupe in the spring of 2011, he knew he wanted a larger ve­hi­cle grand­chil­dren and friends could ride in and started look­ing for a ’30s Ford sedan as his next project.

That fall, he found a 1937 Ford flat­back sedan in Al­berta that seemed to be the ticket. It lacked the bus­tle hump of the trunk­back model and ex­hib­ited a cleaner, more mod­ern de­sign. Bax­ter and his friend Gary Kousof made the trip to Ed­mon­ton with the in­ten­tion of driv­ing the ’37 Ford home. Af­ter about 160 kilo­me­tres, it be­came ap­par­ent the old Ford wasn’t go­ing to make it much far­ther un­der its own steam, and the duo bor­rowed a trailer to take it the rest of the way to Win­nipeg.

Bax­ter and Kousof stripped the car down, and Bax­ter be­gan re­pair­ing the rusted ar­eas on the lower body by weld­ing in new metal pan­els.

“I al­ready had a vi­sion for this car and knew I wanted to keep it as orig­i­nal-look­ing as pos­si­ble,” Bax­ter said.

With the body­work com­pleted, Don Sal­is­bury painted and pol­ished the car in a 1997 Ford Moon­light Blue that looks very much like the orig­i­nal 1937 Wash­ing­ton Blue. The chrome bumpers were re-plated by the Chrome Pit, and the smaller trim parts were re­fur­bished by the House of Sil­ver.

For the chas­sis, Bax­ter pur­chased a Chevrolet Ram­jet 350-cu­bic-inch V8 crate en­gine from Jim Ban­ford at Gau­tier Chevrolet. Fuel-in­jected, it pro­duces 350 horse­power, is mated to a 700R-4 over­drive au­to­matic trans­mis-

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