Stu and Gracie Weller began their married life by driving off on their honeymoon in a used 1936 Ford. It wasn't long before the Ford was traded in on a newer car. That transaction was one they soon regretted.
Decades later the Wellers began searching for a similar Ford to rekindle fond memories. They found a maroon-colored 1936 Ford five-window coupe with a rumble seat, one of 21 models offered by Ford that model year. Although it had undergone some modifications, they bought it anyway and enjoyed the car for years.
About six years ago, the health of Stu Weller began to deteriorate and in the time he had left he wanted to find a good home for his Ford. He turned to Jim and Edna Cross. Details of the situation were discussed and Weller explained that he wanted their help to sell his car, but it had to be to someone who would not hot-rod the coupe, a model favored by hot rodders.
A week later Weller called Cross to say he wanted Cross to buy his Ford, knowing that the coupe would be in good hands after he was gone. Cross explained that he already had a number of antique cars; he didn't need, nor want, another one and had no room for the Ford. So, Weller approached Cross' wife and she saw the situation differently.
In the autumn of 2006 Cross hitched a trailer to his truck to get the 1936 Ford that his wife had purchased. When he returned to his Leesburg, Va., home and had an opportunity to give the car the once-over he discovered the original floor-mounted gearshift lever had been removed, along with the original steering wheel. Both items had been replaced by a Ford steering wheel from a newer model.
Most auto manufacturers had abandoned mechanical brakes in favor of hydraulic binders, except for Ford. Founder Henry Ford remained convinced of the superiority of mechanical brakes until finally switching to hydraulic brakes in 1939. Somewhere along the line of previous owners the 1936 Ford had undergone surgery and now was equipped with hydraulic brakes. It's nice to be able to stop when you want to stop.
Cross soon discovered the 1936 Ford coupe had an overheating problem, which was remedied by replacing the radiator core. A new gasoline tank was also installed. Fortunately, Cross had the unusually shaped tool required to release the neck from the tank itself. The filler pipe to the tank is located in the left taillight stanchion. With that task completed all the mechanical work was done, except for replacing one of the two water pumps on the 221-cubic-inch V-8 engine.
The 15.5-foot-long Ford has 6.00x16-inch tires mounted on pressed-steel wheels, the first year that Ford didn't use steel-spoke wheels. It rides on a 112-inch wheelbase. The 85-horsepower flathead V-8 engine can propel the 2,666-pound sporty Ford at close to the 100-mph mark on the speedometer.
When new the 1936 Ford had a base price of $580. This car has a rear window that is lowered with a hand crank. It also has a working AM radio. "You don't need a heater," Cross says, explaining that heat generated by the engine keeps the cabin comfortable in cold weather.
At the right rear corner of the car near the right taillight are two step plates with rubber treads to make entry into the rumble seat easier. The lower step plate is on the bumper and the upper one is at the top of the right rear fender. From that point the tan vinyl-covered rumble seat is just one step away.
The one-piece windshield can be opened at the bottom to allow fresh air into the cabin. In front of the windshield is a cowl ventilator scoops even more outside air into the cabin.
Because the windshield opens at the bottom the single wiper is mounted above the windshield and is vacuum-operated. "You have to count to 10 before the wiper comes back across," Cross says.
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