• Original steel body sectioned 2½ inches, top chopped two inches • 427-ci Dart Ford V8 with Kinsler Fuel Injection • Heidts’ IFS with Corvette C5 disc brakes • C5 Corvette IRS and disc brakes with Winters quick-change • Goodguys finalist for “America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod”

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1936 Ford Model 68 Deluxe Phaeton
Years Produced:1936 / 2011
Number Produced:5,555 (1936 phaetons)
Original List Price:$60,000–$75,000 for a stocker (depending on build quality, history and condition)
Tune Up Cost:$250
Chassis Number Location:Stamped on top of driver’s side frame rail (for original frame)
Engine Number Location:Stamped on pad on right front of block, below cylinder head (for original block)
Club Info:Goodguys, National Street Rod Association (NSRA)
Alternatives:1935 Ford phaeton, 1936 Ford convertible sedan
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot S136, sold for $124,200, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s Seattle, WA, sale on June 13–14, 2014

Four doors with air

Hot-rodders euphemistically call 4-door phaetons “tubs” for obvious reasons — they resemble bathtubs on wheels. Although most hot-rodders with decent budgets shun 4-door sedans, the Grand National Roadster Show welcomes roadsters and phaetons (4-door convertibles) through 1937, and this year a ’35 Chevy phaeton won the coveted AMBR trophy.

If you have a family and want to enjoy the sun, a phaeton (its name comes from a popular 19th century open horse-drawn carriage style) is the way to go. True phaetons had no roof or side windows. In automotive terms, this usually meant a four-door with a folding top, and in lieu of roll-up windows, there were snap-on canvas side curtains. Nearly every 1920s and early 1930s-era make had a phaeton body in its lineup at one time.

Ford Motor Company sold a very complete selection of body styles in 1936. Four-door, open-air motoring enthusiasts were accommodated with a DeLuxe phaeton, sporting detachable side windows, for $590. There was a convertible sedan as well, priced at $760, which had roll-up windows with a removable center post separating them. For just $20 more, you could order a convertible sedan with an integral external trunk. But by 1936, buyers who wanted a quartet of seats and a folding top had dwindled. Ford sold 5,601 convertible sedans of both trunk types and just 5,555 phaetons.

Cut ’em up!

Building a contemporary hot rod with all the “mod cons” can consume copious amounts of money. Our profile car is a good example.

This car’s builder started with a stock ’36 Ford phaeton, which was then sectioned 2½ inches. That’s the equivalent of chopping the body of the car, and it’s not for the faint of heart, especially when a body tapers, as this one does, from top to bottom. Back in the day, sectioning was not commonly done because it took great skill to do it.

Valley Custom, in Burbank, CA, sectioned more custom cars than anyone else. Partners Neil Emory and Clay Jensen were master metal-men, and their legendary shop built several notable sectioned cars such as “The Polynesian,” a ’50 Olds hard top sectioned four inches for Jack Stewart, and a radical, five-inch sectioned ’50 Ford business coupe for Ron Dunne that made the cover of Hop Up in 1953, when it was still nearly new. Sectioning permitted a low silhouette, without the car literally dragging on the ground. In fact, most sectioned cars were not lowered that much, making them quite practical drivers.

Our feature car’s altered ’36 tub body — the only sectioned ’36 phaeton known — sits on a modified Ford chassis and has a two-inch chopped windshield. Gabe Lopez trimmed the handsome tan leather interior and lift-off canvas-covered top.

Much-improved ride and handling comes from a Heidts’ independent front suspension system, replacing the antique Ford buggy spring setup. The independent rear suspension was taken from a C5 Corvette, which also donated its disc brakes, and a Winters quick-change center section was adapted to fit.

Top-quality equipment abounds: Vintage Air did the chromed HVAC system; there’s Flaming River rack-and-pinion power steering, and it all rolls on 17-inch knockoff Halibrands shod with fat 205/45 and 255/60 Michelins. And we haven’t even gotten to the engine yet… Ka-CHING, Ka-CHING!

Motive power

Under the hood, which retains its classic ’36 Ford shape but with sectioned side louvers, is a lusty 427-cid Dart aluminum-block Ford V8 with Trick Flow cylinder heads, Kinsler eight-stack electronic fuel injection, a Ford AOD transmission, a custom cooling system and lots of polish and plating.

A custom 24-gallon fuel tank brings up the rear, while modified ’36 Ford bumpers, old-style Ford bullet headlights in the catwalks, and the stock Ford horn grilles complete the external theme. The fenders were modified to accommodate the larger wheels and tires, and all four door handles were shaved. There are gallons of lush black paint, a three-inch custom exhaust system, and much more.

This custom rod ’36 phaeton was built by Pete Emery of Clackamas, OR, and was completed in 2011. It won the Art Morrison Builders Award at the Pacific Northwest Nationals, a Best in Class at the Portland Roadster Show, and it was one of the five finalists for the 2011 Goodguys’ “America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod” — and the only home-built car competing. There are only 400 miles on the odometer. So it’s practically a brand-new car.

Bargain bid

Judging from the photos, and the prestigious awards, this sectioned ’36 is a beautifully built custom rod with no shortcuts. It’s a familiar story: Start with a decent stocker — in this case a comparatively rare ’36 phaeton — section the body, itself a challenging undertaking, update the chassis with high-zoot Heidts’ and ’Vette suspension, drop in a full-tilt aluminum Dart V8, spend a bundle on paint, plating and upholstery, take it to a few shows, win some big trophies, and then sell it.

The problem is, unless the car in question has won the coveted Ridler Award at the Detroit Autorama, or in this car’s eligibility range, the AMBR, it’s hard to recoup even half of the build cost. A $124,200 return on a $175,000+ investment will never make you wealthy. The seller told me, “Very seldom do you get all your money back. I debated whether to let it go, but I’m on to the next one.”

Bottom line: The buyer acquired a beautiful car for far less than the cost of building it. Assuming you like all these modifications, it was a great deal. I’d call it well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

Comments are closed.