Original vehicle designs making a comeback among hotrod enthusiasts
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-