Photo courtesy Early Ford V-8 Museum.
The only stainless steel 1936 Ford known to exist in private hands will no longer enjoy such status after collector Joe Floyd announced he’s donating it – along with 16 other 1936 Fords from his collection – to the Early Ford V-8 Museum, where it will take center stage in the museum’s Rotunda replica.
Of the six stainless steel 1936 Ford Model 68 Deluxe Tudor Touring Sedans that Allegheny Steel (later Allegheny Ludlum) built using Ford’s dies to promote the material, four reportedly still exist: two still with the company alongside examples of the stainless steel 1960 Thunderbirds and 1966 Continentals that the company built, one in the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, and the fourth in Floyd’s collection.
As the story goes, each of the six 1936 Fords went to top regional sales executives – one apiece in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis. All six remained on the road until just after World War II, racking up about 200,000 miles each, leaving the standard-issue Ford drivetrains worn out, but the bodies no worse for the wear. The Chicago car then went to a dentist in the area known for popularizing the use of stainless steel in his profession; after his death, it remained with his son, who in turn sold it to Illinois-based collector Ed James.
Photos by Jeff Koch.
After Arizona-based collector car dealer Leo Gephart bought the Ford in 2008 or 2009, he had Scottsdale restorer Lon Kruger perform a full body-off restoration that included a full 1,000-hour polish, rendering the body mirror-clear, unlike the raw finish the rest of the Allegheny Ludlum stainless-steel cars exhibit. The finished car then took a bevy of awards in 2009 before Gephart turned down a $550,000 top bid for it at the Mecum Monterey auction in 2010.
Floyd, meanwhile, had been building a collection of 1936 Fords in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The collection started about 25 years ago. Floyd had been discussing his post-retirement plans with his wife and, “Somewhere along the line I wondered what it took to find all the models of ’36 Ford, so I began the search.” Depending on how one divides up Standard and Deluxe versions as well as the flatback sedans and their trunkback counterparts introduced midyear, Ford offered anywhere from 10 to 18 passenger car variants, plus all the various truck variants.
His constant search for parts to restore the vehicles in his collection led him to Kruger, who bought out Gephart’s interest in the stainless-steel 1936 Ford after the latter’s death. In addition to the regular production models, Floyd had an interest in one-off and coachbuilt 1936 Fords (he had already obtained a a Gläser-bodied German Ford and a Briggs-bodied boulevard delivery), so Floyd negotiated to by the stainless car in about 2014.
Photos courtesy Joe Floyd.
Floyd’s interest in early Ford V-8s – he also has a 1941 currently under restoration and is fascinated by the 1946-1948 Fords – also led him to the Early Ford V-8 Foundation and museum, for which he at times served as trustee and treasurer.
“When I was with the foundation, I said to myself that if I do anything with the collection, I should preserve it for the public, so I developed the concept of donating the cars to the museum,” he said. He temporarily loaned the stainless 1936 Ford to the museum and, upon seeing the “accelerated attendance” due to the car’s presence, along with the museum’s plans for expansion, he decided to donate all 17 cars in his 1936 Ford collection to the museum.
That donation also came with a check for $1 million that will allow the museum to house the cars – with the stainless steel sedan on a turntable in the center – in a 10,000-square-foot wing of the museum that will mimic the look of a circa-1940 Ford dealership and that will incorporate a downsized 98-foot-diameter version of the gear-shaped Ford Rotunda.
Though museum officials had kept the 17-car/$1 million donation anonymous when first announced last November, the museum’s board of directors decided this month to reveal Floyd’s name, in part to generate additional donations to the museum’s expansion.
“It is my hope the publication of this addition will spark others to consider the Foundation Museum as the place to be for their collection,” Floyd wrote in the foundation’s May-June 2017 newsletter.
Prior to Floyd’s donation, foundation officials had shelved plans to replicate the Rotunda in favor of a more modest 8,700-square-foot addition to the museum’s existing 8,040-square-foot space. With the donation, both the 8,700-square-foot addition and the 10,000-square-foot addition with the Rotunda replica will be able to move forward.
According to Foundation President John Knecht, the estimated cost for the museum expansion has risen to $2 million total, about $1.4 million of which the foundation has on hand. Construction itself is expected to begin in June. The Floyd collection is expected to join the museum upon the expansion’s completion, perhaps as soon as this winter.
For more information on the museum, visit FordV8Foundation.org.