Why would you drive a vintage car anyway??

My late model work car is equipped with all the comfort features I could ever need. It has a nice quiet cabin, climate control, nice stereo and don’t forget the bun heaters! Going to work on a soggy cold morning is not that bad once you get inside this cozy cage. I am isolated from road and engine noises and I can stream music or news from anywhere in the world and listen to it with the twelve speakers. Why does one need twelve speakers anyway?

1937 Ford Convertible Cabriolet

Driving a vintage car or truck takes some effort and involvement. They don’t have the best brakes, the steering is a bit sloppy and the wind noise…don’t forget the wind noise. It’s hard to have a cell phone conversation in a vintage car…but why should you?? You should listen to your vehicle and be one with it. The 1937 Ford I currently have the custodial rights over is one of those “old cars”

The 1939 transmission with second and third gear syncros is actually an upgrade from the stock non syncro transmission this car came with. Driving a car like this is a way to celebrate the way it was. Not necessary waxing nostalgically about “it was better back then” but it is an opportunity to really get in the head of the folks that built them and drove them when they were new.

You feel you are part of the machine and the history.

Picture this:

You blip the throttle and double clutch as you approach an intersection while still moving and feel first gear just slips in without a noise…THAT is a pure man and machine experience. Then go around the corner and hit second gear right at that torque spot and feel the flathead pull the car forward. No tachometer, no automatic shifter, no computer…just you knowing your machine and what it can do and also know it’s limitation. How can you not love it??!

Sigh, this may be hard to explain to some twenty year old kid in a Honda sporting a sewer pipe for an exhaust pipe…but I will try if anyone want to listen!

 

1937 Ford: The car gets more attention

The Flathead Reliability Run is coming up next week so I need to give the ’37 Ford Cabriolet some more love.

1937 Ford Cabriolet blinker

My friend Mark gave me this vintage Auto Signal brand turn signal assembly. It was proudly made in Chicago about sixty years ago. I cleaned it and painted it with Hammer finish but even thought I doused it with paint it still would not “hammer”. However, I like the brown finish so I will live with the end result.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet blinker tape

Once I figured out the wiring I wrapped the wires in Friction Tape from hardware store. Unlike electrical tape it has a matte finish so it looks very old timey. The black rubber wheel in the unit goes against the steering wheel and it cancels the blinker after the turn. Very cool.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet blinker clamp

The blinker assembly is held to the column with a hose clamp. I covered the clamp with black shrink tubing so it would not stick out visually and it protects the column from scratches. I did have to add a separate ground lead because of this.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet blinker finished

After assembly it looks like new.

 

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet blinker installed

Here we are. The color works well with the other colors in the car. The cancelling function works great and the car is safer to boot. Now I don’t have tog o down the road with left blinker on for miles like an old guy!

Hollywood Hub Caps…or, do these caps make me look fat??

It is amazing what a difference wheels and tires can do on a vehicle.

1937 Ford Cabriolet with stock caps

This 1937 Ford Cabriolet was found with black wall tires and cheesy (technical term, really!) reproduction 1937 one piece hub caps. The original caps were actually a two piece cap.

They should be called wheel covers as the hub cap is really just the little cap covering the bearing in the center. But we will go with the popular description.

1937 Ford Cabriolet with 1939 caps

OK, moving along…Here is 2.0: These are 1939 caps and trim rings. They look great and the ripple design adds to the art deco look on this car.

 

16 inch Hollywood hubcaps

I found these on that auction site. These are rare 16 inch “Hollywoods” one bar caps and it looks like they have never been installed. They do have some shelf rash but I can live with it for now and it actually adds to the authenticity. They don’t reproduce 16 inch Hollywoods so I am thrilled to get my hand on these.

1937 Ford Cabriolet with Hollywood caps up close

3.0: Up close and personal…I like!

1937 Ford Cabriolet with Hollywood caps rear

It changes the whole look and feel of the car. I really like it.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet with Hollywood caps front

It went from grandpa’s stocker to cool custom in three minutes flat. I am thinking a tasteful lowering job and maybe a spot light would really add to the looks. Some other project is due first but we will continue to work on this. In the mean time, I will drive the wheels off it!

Now get in the shop and build something!

Project 1937 Ford Cabriolet on the road!

After building the dual exhaust and adding white walls it was a pleasure to back it out of the garage. The old exhaust was hitting the frame resulting in some vibrations. All that is gone and a smooth running flathead with some heavenly tunes emanating from the shiny stainless tips greeted me this morning.

Some folks opted against whitewalls but…hey, this is MY car and I do whatever I want. The radial tires makes the car ride very smooth and ruts in the road are no longer a challenge.

All in all, the car is very tight and a joy to drive. While driving through town I saw the car in the reflection in the shop windows and damn…I look good driving it.

1937 Ford Convertible Cabriolet with white walls2

The steering box can use some work or maybe I need to upgrade to a later model box? I could use some advice on this. The box is rather notchy and not very smooth. What have you done?

1937 Ford Convertible Cabriolet with white walls 3

The 1939 caps looks great with the ripple design.

 

1937 Ford Convertible Cabriolet with white walls

It is a little tall in the nose, I have to bring it down about two inches.

 

1937 Ford Convertible Cabriolet with white walls3

The office: Not only does it look good, it is very comfortable. What a difference from my ’32 five window. A great start to the summer.

 

Project ’37 Ford Cabriolet, exhaust

Project 1937 Ford Cabriolet came with a stock single exhaust and it was hitting the frame so I had to remove it anyway. I decided to start from scratch.

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust flanges

These are the old pipes, they look a bit tired.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet  exhaust flange new

I kept the flange and went to work.

1937 Ford Cabriolet spagetti

Look, a 1937 Ford exhaust. What, you can’t see it?? Well, let me show you.

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaustThese are the smallest Thrush glass packs I could find.

Thrush had an ad in the sixties that said: Put a Thrush on your pipe and…smoke it! I doubt we can smoke anything with this stock flathead but I am counting on some good flathead sound emanating from the dual pipes.

I could not resist adding for the electric cut-outs. I am sure with these small glass packs I will have a nice rumble out the rear but there might be a time when an uncorked flathead will be music to ones ears. Off road of course. They come with wiring and one switch that opens both simultaneously. Yes, I did test them, they work on 6 volts as well. The switch looks like a modern power window switch so obviously I would have to hide it under the dash.
1937 Ford Cabriolet Exhaust work 3

The angle iron: Your best friend when making exhaust.

1937 Ford Cabriolet Exhaust work

It is great to line up tubes when you are going to weld them together. I tacked everything together first and then did a test fit on the car.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust cut outs

The exhaust cut-outs are designed for 3 inch exhaust pipes. The dual system I am building is based on 1 1/2 inch pipes so we have to be a little creative.

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust set up

The mufflers and exhaust cut outs needed to be compact so I came up with the idea of cutting down the muffler and insert it in the Y-pipe.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust set up finished

Here is the compact solution, the world famous Super Sonic Muffler Cut-Out Device.

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust tip polish

The last 36 inches of the exhaust is stainless so I polished it to chrome finish. Now I don’t have to worry about adding chrome tips.

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust paint Once all welded up I coated everything with high temp paint. Yes, I wear a respirator even when painting with spray cans. Most paint spray cans contains nasty stuff. You only have one pair of lungs.

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust finished

Here it is. A complete 1937 Ford dual exhaust system.

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust insulation

It is tight on the drivers side because of the steering box. I have to dip down below the frame and that makes part of the exhaust close to the master cylinder. I added insulation to the pipe to keep the heat away from the master cylinder.

1937 Ford Cabriolet dual exhaust Here is a side view of the exhaust.

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust tip

Well, here we are. All done. A drive around town confirmed a nice mellow note. Also the restored plate is in place and a vintage frame adds the finishing touch.

Ready for the up-coming Ford Meet.

Make your modern battery look vintage

Todays modern dry or gel cell batteries are usually more dependable and powerful than the old style flooded batteries. Also, they are safer without the corrosive acid.

However…BIG PROBLEM…for us who like old cars; They sure don’t look sexy in the engine compartment of a vintage car. It is OK if they are hidden but if they are visible in the engine compartment it just looks wrong. We need to come up with a solution. Working on our Project 1937 Ford Cabriolet we came up with the following:

Battery-in-a-box-solution

1937 Ford Cabriolet Vintage battery fix

Here is my ugly but good 6 Volt battery.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet Vintage battery fix2

Here is a plastic box and top that looks like an old timey battery that I found at the swap meet.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet Vintage battery fix3

Here is the modern ugly battery in the box.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet Vintage battery fix4

Here is the box with the ugly battery hidden by the lid. Looks old-timey to me.

Problem solved.

I may add some faux lead connectors on top of the box if I have time, we’ll see…

Vintage Brochures: 1937 Ford Cars

I enjoy reading the original sales brochures for vintage cars and motorcycles, especially for the cars that I own. It is fun to see how there were marketed back then.

1937 Ford Cabriolet brochure cover.jpeg

I got this one from that auction site and it arrived in a soft envelope stamped “Do Not Bend”.
So what does my fine post office professional do? Yup, you guessed it: They bend it.

I managed to “unbend” the brochure and all is good. However,  the astute eBay peddler stated in his description that “they could be a reproduction but could also be original” Yeah, right! Looks like it was printed yesterday, it looks BRAND NEW, smells BRAND NEW, it probably IS brand new. It absolutely does NOT look like a document printed 74 (SEVENTYFOUR!) years ago. There is a huge difference. I think it is an insult but I pretty much knew what I was getting based on the above “keep-my-ass-covered-description” but I wanted a nice copy basically for the content. So…moving on.

1937 Ford Cabriolet brochure

Because of our Project 1937 Ford Cabriolet I had to immediately flip to the Cabriolet page! …and look at that: I learned something right away:

Can you see what it is? Well, Ford calls it a “Cabriolet Convertible”, not just one or the other. So I guess that would not be a double negative? Or in this case double positive!

New for the year was “Modern appearance, new streamline design”

1937 Ford Cabriolet lid type hood

Another new feature was the lid style hood for easy servicing and under hood mounted battery also made life easier for the Ford mechanic.

1937 Ford Cabriolet brochure flathead v8

Ford also bragged about a modern compact V-type engine, and “Center-Poise Ride increased by smoother action of long tapering springs” and a new worm and roller steering gear with 18.2 :1 ratio that makes the 1937 Ford easier to handle. Man, I feel like I am in heaven already.

Further features includes “Chromium Plated radiator grille and rustless steel running board mouldings and Genuine Leather seats”

How can anyone go wrong? Trade in your old 1932 Ford and pick one up today! Oh, that’s right, I just did.

Well, I will be cruising in style firmly planted on the Genuine Leather seating, barely feeling the road thanks to Center-Poise Ride springs while the Chromium plated radiator grille points the way!

Now that’s STYLING!

Vintage heaters

“I like to be comfortable”

That includes not being cold! Cars did not get heaters installed from the factory until the late fifties in most cases. They showed up even later in trucks. Our Project 1937 Ford Cabriolet did not come with a heater and while top down cruising in eighty degree weather is…FABOULUS…but…it is NOT fun to be cold in a car. What’s the point if you are not comfortable in your favorite ride?

I really wanted a roadster next but here in Washington state you have few days when you can be comfortable without side windows. The 1937 Ford Cabriolet with roll up windows changes all that. Go with top down when you feel like it but top and windows up when it is nippy or wet out there. The best of both worlds. So how are we going to heat the cabin on those cold days?

With a cool (actually warm) vintage heater of course. These can be found on swap meets starting around ten dollars. They usually comes with a 6 volt fan motor and thru the firewall plumbing.

1937 Ford Cabriolet heater Corvette core

This is the actual heater box from a mid fifties Ford truck. I cut off everything that did not look like a heater and ended up with just the box. The heater core I also found at a swap met and is supposed to come from a Corvette. I paid fifteen dollars for it and it appears to be new and never installed.

After trimming off the tubes the core fits nicely in the old Ford box. My initial though was to install a flat brushless fan in the back but I think I need more capacity knowing this is a convertible. I will probably use an external “turbo” fan. More on that later…and when I find one.

This heater and many others needs a nice grille of some kind. I was looking on-line for some sorts of expanded metal or grid that could be polished. Nothing…so let’s put the thinking cap on. Where do we see cool materials used? Mmmm. Elevator interiors have always fascinated my as they have such cool material and a lot of it is stainless, that may be something to pursue?

I found a company close to work that makes elevator interiors. How about that?

1937 Ford Cabriolet heater grill

A quick drive and a box of doughnuts later I had this in my hand. It is a stainless wowen grid. How perfect! It reminds me of the cloth used on the front of old radios.

Let’s give it a try:

1937 Ford Cabriolet heater grille installed

Oh Yeah, Baby! That works! Looks like the material was made for this project.

Now I have to figure out what color to paint the box and front trim. I am thinking a mix of hammer paint and wrinkle. Stay tuned and you will find out.

More on this later…

1937 Ford Cabriolet – walls of white

1937 Ford Cabriolet White Walls

The rims were treated to powder coating in gloss black and then the new look-like-bias-ply radials were installed. Looks great.

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet V8 wheel cover

The stock reproduction caps were in perfect condition but they are rather boring. I found these on that auction site. They are old stock and after some polishing they look very nice. I added gloss black to the V8 logo that matches the rim color. I am not sure if they were a Ford or Mercury item or possible an aftermarket. If you know, let me know.

1937 Ford Cabriolet white wall tire

Of course I can’t want to see the caps on the rims so by laying on the floor we can get a sense of what we are looking at.

1937 Ford Cabriolet in the air

With five blades removed from the rear spring I think I got the rear sitting right. It centers the tire in the wheel well. I think the front need to come down a smidge.

1937 Ford Cabriolet white wall centered

Like that!

1937 Ford Cabriolet exhaust

Since I got the car up in the air it’s time to attend to the exhaust system. A stock single exhaust is no way to treat a flathead engine. The plan is for an all new dual exhaust with remote electric openers. It may be fun to make a little noise from time to time. The short glass packs should ensure a nice rumble from said flathead when going through the 1939 syncromesh transmission during cruising…and cruise we will !

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet stainless pipes

Instead of adding chrome extensions to the rear of an exhaust i opted for 1 1/2 inch stainless pipes for the last bit of the exhaust. As you can see I had to test polish and it will look good when done.

I have another hot rod to work on so…more later…

Let’s continue on Project ’37 Ford

As spring is fast approaching the pressure is on to get the Cabriolet ready.

Whitewall, dual exhaust, side mirror, full service and other small things will make this a nice cruiser. So let’s get started:
1937 Ford Goddies

Santa came early…or late…depending on if you are a glass half full or half empty kinda person. As much as I like things with a little patina and some history I also have a soft spot for nice new chromie thingies!! Outside mirrors, glove box, radiator cap, tank lid, battery holder downer (technichal term) and more.

1937 Ford Cabriolet Torpedo with mirrors

Mirrors installed. The enclosed hinge pin did not fit these hinges so I just made a pin. With the small back window in the convertible top the mirrors will be a welcome addition. The glass in these reproduction mirrors are not wide angle so they are still limited in what you can see. We will see how well they work once on the road. BTW: Check out that super cool torpedo hood!! This baby is sporting some LINES !!

1937 Ford Cabriolet Whitewalls.jpg

Man, Santa came again. He is a busy man…in the middle of April. Probably bored…

This time he brought snow white colored white wall tyres. How nice! As much as a car like this is predictable with white walls I still think they will be the cat’s pajamas on this maroon cabriolet. I plan to powder coat the wheels black and add a nicer Mercury style cap. I will keep the trim rings as well. Reliable sources tells me that more chrome and shiny stuff makes the car run better, faster and smoother. Honest!

1937 Ford Cabriolet tank lid

 The lockable filler cap is a nice option but what an ugly contraption, eh?
I opted for a smooth new one.

1937 Ford Cabriolet new tank lid
Mo betta! Strange reflection, though!

 

1937 Ford Cabriolet glove box

 There would not be a place to put my gloves unless there is a glove box.
I got this snazzy reproduction part but I realized quickly why the restorer/builder did omit it. They worked really hard on making the car look original. The original car did not have a voltage regulator but the more contemporary ABA flathead came with a generator that uses the more reliable but separate voltage regular. By now you have figured out where they hid said voltage regulator. Yup, where the glove box goes.

I have to move the regulator, maybe even to the engine compartment as it is not a big deal to me if the car looks totally stock. I do however like a place to put my gloves!

 Mo later…