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Classic Used Oil Generators: 1938 Ford
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By Vern Parker

Keith Randall is proud to display his 74-year-old 1938 Ford Deluxe four-door sedan that has only recorded 71,000 miles on the odometer.

Randall reports that the serial number on his Ford indicates that it was manufactured in February 1938. Soon thereafter the sedan was purchased new by a Wisconsin man. Those license plates are still with the old Ford to this day.

"Credit for the noteworthy condition of this fine old automobile belongs to the caretakers who have preceded me,” Randall says.

The original owner always sheltered the car in a garage and reportedly the Ford never was exposed to rain nor snow.

Eventually the grandson of the owner inherited the car in 1964. Family demands dictated the sale of the car in 1974. At that time the car 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 activities. 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.

Unusual features on the car include the original drive train, original upholstery, original window glass, original spare tire, original tools, original amber fog light, original hot-air heater, original chrome trim and original 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.

Since Randall got his remarkable Ford home he says he has rebuilt the right side water pump as well as disassembling and cleaning 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.

Randall explains that for 1938 designers and engineers at Ford started with the 1937 model year Deluxe touring body and gave it a facelift. A totally new grille and engine hood were created 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 eight 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.
  • Optional right door armrest.
The privacy curtain on the rear window was eliminated and this was the final year for mechanical brakes.

The economic recession of 1938 caused the American automobile industry to experience the sharpest sales decline since 1933. In 1937 Ford sold 945,329 cars and in 1938 that figure dropped to 363,688.

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