Introducing Graeme's Once-In-a-Lifetime Discovery...a 1937 Ford Housecar
One of only six said to have been made per year in the mid-'30s at the Ford Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota, according to an article on this car in a 1993 "Old Cars" magazine article (see link below). Very few others--perhaps none--remain on the road, and certainly not in such amazing original condition. (The only other known example that I heard of was supposedly housed in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. But that turned out to be an early 1920s Model T conversion, the curator told me. He said he'd never seen anything like this '37!)
When discovered in a garage (under a heavy cover) in Northern Minnesota in August 2001, she had only 19,000 miles, and the owner's manual was actually still the glove box in like-new condition! She had always been garaged and treated with much TLC as a collector vehicle.
The interior, all wood lined, was still the way it appeared in the '30s and '40s, complete with framed photos of the original owner on his travels (mainly to Florida) and his cabin in the North Woods, plus and other memorabilia from the era.
Built on the '37 Ford Pickup frame and cowling (powered by a 60-hp flathead V8 with aluminum heads), the rear framing is all wood, with the metal skin wrapped around it. The roof structure, too, is all wood, over which the heavy, waterproofed canvas top is still very securely fitted. The structure of the body is solid, appearing from underneath to be all oak, and still in a remarkably unaltered, undamaged condition. The door frames are thick, solid oak, and oak is visible around the window openings (as on the four side windows in back) -- though it is painted over.
She was a big hit at this campground once we got that great old flattie V8 hummin'! Note her expanding roof and the original dark green color, which had been repainted. I figure the canvas roof was originally painted in reflective silver to keep it from getting too hot inside. All four side windows open, while the back one tilts out to three positions. The windshield also tilts open at the bottom for natural AC while driving.
Here are a few shots of her in August 2001, out on the road in the Chippewa National Forest north of Grand Rapids, MN...practicing for her next adventure: "Destination Wavecrest 2001."
A Peek Inside...
A slice right out of the 1930s...just as the original owner left it. All the windows open, with curtains on the four side ones and pull-down shades on the back window, as well as on the driver's and passenger door windows. A wide storage cabinet is located under the bed.
The wood headliner, with vent and canvas expanding portion visible. Four wood pieces hold it securely in the up position, while clamps hold it down while driving.
More interior views....note the cedar branches hanging in the corners for that north woods aroma. Cabinets and aluminum sink (with a wood cover insert) are visible on the left. All the antiques stuck away inside, as well as those hanging on the walls, came along for the ride. Also note the table behind the driver's seat, which folds down.
Click on the article image below to view a larger version.
After shipping the car to Southern California in September 2001, I sold this fine automobile to a well-known LA-based collector of old Ford woodies, at a large antique and collector car show in Encinitas, California called "Wavecrest." I accepted a check from him for $35,000 and kissed the housecar good-bye! I consider myself very lucky to have been able to take care of this beauty, even for such a short time, and get her back on the road.