In 1938 Ford introduced the De Luxe model as a separate range to cover the market gap between their standard cars and their top level Lincoln brand with the concept lasting for about four years after which Ford dropped the De Luxe name in favour of their Mercury range. I understand that this particular Fordor version was only made for about one year so it is in Ford terms a relatively rare car and is certainly the first one I have come across.
If we forget for a while that it is a Peking Paris rally car and look at as a straightforward family saloon (sedan?) it appears to incorporate all of Ford’s main strengths in that it is relatively straightforward mechanically, well built, robust, comfortable and stylish and very up to date 1940’s American in appearance!
The 221 cubic inch/3.6 litre flat head V8 starts easily and sounds very good indeed, the three speed and reverse column mounted gear change is precise, the gearbox is quiet and the ratios are well spaced. In addition the steering is positive and surprisingly light once you are moving and the brakes are up to their job. The bodywork is sound and looks very smart, the interior is nicely finished, the trim and headlining is good and the seats are comfortable so all in all it is a very good useable family car and finally being a Ford spares are much easier to get hold of than many of its contemporaries.
If that was all the car offered it would make a very good buy for an enthusiast looking for something a bit different to take to rallies or use as a daily driver. However, it is of course much more than that as it has been prepared for and just successfully completed one of the motoring world’s most demanding events – the Peking to Paris endurance rally – after which it was driven directly to my place!
The joint owners and co drivers of the car have given me a more detailed list of the work done to prepare the car for the event which I will happily pass on to anyone who is interested in it but in summary the engine was rebuilt by Gary Howard of engine specialists Flathead City in Oregon which included fitting Edelbrock aluminium cylinder heads, a replica Holley carburettor and a new clutch. A new radiator was installed as was a stainless steel exhaust system, the brakes were fully serviced and relevant electrical work was also carried out including refurbishing the dynamo, starter and lighting and finally a new set of heavy duty tyres were fitted.
Given the tough nature of the event there has inevitably been some wear and tear on the car which will be documented to serious enquirers but we fundamentally have here an extensively prepared and successful long distance rally car though anyone taking on its next event would be advised to have it checked over and remedied as necessary before they set off!
The best thing would be to come and have look for yourself as only you can decide if it is what you are looking for – I think you will find it to be a very interesting machine!