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Ken Kingsbury of Alamo and his 1937 Ford. (Photo by David Krumboltz)

The introduction of the 1937 Ford was an exciting event. The car was all new, and Ford was determined to regain sales leadership over Chevrolet with this model. According to ehow.com, 1937 Ford sales increased 7.2 percent over the 1936 model, while Chevy sales decreased by 11 percent, but Chevy still outsold Ford by 20,000 vehicles.

The 1937 Ford styling took a more modern look, with the "V" shaped grille similar to the very successful Lincoln Zephyr introduced in 1936. Also similar to the Lincoln were the almond-shaped headlights in the fenders. Taillights with the license holder were attached to extended arms mounted on the rear fenders. Plymouth didn't have in-fender headlights until 1939, and Chevy until 1940.

To open the Ford hood, one turned the nose ornament, and the hood opened at the front, as opposed to earlier models where there were side openings.

Seventeen models were offered, including Tudor and Fordor flatback or slant back and touring sedans. The flatback had a trunk, but with a spare tire, the luggage space was quite limited. The touring sedan, or hump back, offered a little more space for luggage. Other models available were roadsters, two- and four-door convertibles, coupes and station wagons.

The standard engine was an 85 HP V8, the only eight-cylinder available in the low-price field. All models sat on a 112-inch wheel base. Ford used the same basic body for the 1937 through 1940 models.


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In 1976, now-retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ken Kingsbury was on the prowl. "I was interested in two particular cars, a Ford Roadster and a 1937 Ford." Many years of searching later, Kingsbury said he went on the Internet "looking for a 1937 Ford and found this one in Chicago. There were pictures, but I wound up doing something you would think a lawyer would know better than doing, I bought the car sight unseen," the Alamo man said.

The purchase price was $30,000. The owner says that market value on collector cars ebbs and flows and estimates the current market value on his 1937 Ford to be between $30,000 and $35,000.

"I was told the car had a 327 c.i. Chevy V8-engine, but when I took it out, it was a 283 c.i."

It now has a Chevy 350 high output c.i. engine that Kingsbury bought from Winter Chevrolet in Pittsburg that was a special engine display on their showroom floor.

The car has been completely redone inside and out and painted a beautiful deep cherry red on the bottom and very dark cherry, almost black, on top. The interior has the mohair look. Since the car does not have side vent windows, a clever feature is, when a front or rear side window is lower, it first slides back about half an inch to allow a moderate amount of fresh air.

Ford designed the windshield to open and a vent that opens ahead of the windshield. Those features are not that important now, as in updating the old Ford, air conditioning has been added along with power steering and power brakes.

Kingsbury's other improvements include a new Mustang II front suspension system, parallel rear leaf springs, a new modified dashboard, dual exhausts, tilt steering wheel, turn signals, and, of course, a good stereo system. It has a Chevy automatic overdrive transmission with a floor stick-shift look. The gear selection is done by feel, but the knob on the shifter shows the gear selection order.

Old Henry Ford was 74 years old when this car was built and had the reputation for being stubborn and set in his ways. A classic example of that is he would not allow hydraulic brakes to be used. He is quoted as saying "the safety of steel from the pedal to wheel" was his reason for the continued use of mechanical brakes. Evidently, upper management at Ford wore the old man down by 1939, when Ford became the last manufacturer to use the vastly superior braking system.

Why have a classic street rod if you are just going to drive it to the supermarket? There's a competitive spirit among these performance car owners and an incurable disease called "I can blow your doors off." Therapy is needed. Usually there are two in the therapy group.

"I was fooling around on the highway with a guy once, and he had some kind of fast car, and I was eating him alive," Kingsbury said. (Translation, I blew his doors off.) But the force of air against Kingsbury's rear license plate was so great that it actually broke the license and holder off his Ford.

So, do you think you have a fast car? Beware, because "here comes da Judge."

Have an interesting vehicle? Contact David Krumboltz at MOBopoly@yahoo.com.