Keith Randall is extremely proud to display his well-cared-for 74-year-old 1938 Ford Deluxe four-door sedan. This model has recorded only 71,000 miles on the odometer.
The economic recession of 1938 caused the American automobile industry to experience the sharpest sales decline since 1933. While in 1937 Ford sold 945,329 cars, the automaker saw that figure drop to 363,688 in 1938.
Randall says for 1938 designers and engineers at Ford Motor Company started with the 1937 model year Deluxe touring body and gave it a facelift. A new grille and engine hood were designed, along with a reworking of the back and rear quarter area of the body. This effort resulted in creating the illusion of a completely new Deluxe four-door sedan in the then popular fastback body style.
The 112-inch wheelbase of the Ford remained unchanged from the 1937 models, but the bumper-to-bumper length was extended by 8 inches. It rolls on 6.00x16-inch tires. Other changes made on the 1938 Ford include: Door trim panels, plain plaid with vertical metal beads and carpet kick pad; Cowl side panels; Silent door locks; New instrument panel; AM radio; and an optional right door armrest.
The privacy curtain on the rear window was eliminated and this model year was the final year for mechanical brakes.
Randall reports that the serial number on his Ford indicates that it was manufactured in February 1938. Soon thereafter a Wisconsin man purchased the new sedan. Those license plates are still with the old Ford to this day.
Original equipment and features on the sedan include the original drivetrain, upholstery, window glass, spare tire, tools, amber fog light, hot-air heater, chrome trim and paint. About the only non-original part of the car is the owner. Additionally, Randall says, are the original issue Wisconsin license tags, reference (owner's manual) book, emergency bulb and fuse kit and safe headlight certificate.
The first owner always sheltered the car in a garage and reportedly the Ford never was exposed to rain or snow. Eventually the grandson of the owner inherited the Ford in 1964. Family demands dictated the sale of the car in 1974. At that time the Ford Deluxe had been driven 38,000 miles.
The third owner lived in southeastern Wisconsin and it wasn't long before he took the Ford to the annual antique automobile event in Hershey, Pa., where it was sold to an Olney, Md., man. All this time the Ford continued receiving first-class treatment and was always garaged.
In November 1987, as the car was approaching its golden anniversary, it again changed owners. The fifth owner took the car home to Silver Spring, Md. Upon the death of that owner in 1997, his widow sold the all-original car to a close friend who was active in early Ford V-8 hobbies. The odometer had recorded a total of only 62,800 miles at that time.
In February 2011 Keith Randall purchased the car and became the seventh owner. Randall transported the 15-foot, 9-inch-long Ford to his Springfield, Va., home on a trailer.
Since Randall got his remarkable Ford home he has rebuilt the right side water pump, as well as disassembled and cleaned the distributor. Eight new spark plugs have been installed and all the fluids have been drained, flushed and refilled. A downdraft carburetor feeds fuel to the 85-horsepower flathead V-8. The capacity of the gasoline tank is 14 gallons.
"Credit for the noteworthy condition of this fine old automobile belongs to the caretakers who have preceded me," Randall says.