1932 Model B Standard Fordor

Lucky Break!

My 1932 Model B Ford Standard Fordor


I had been looking for a nice restored 1931 Model A Ford Slant Windshield sedan for a couple of years. The only Model B Ford part I had that I was saving was a complete mint 32 grille shell. I never figured I would have the rest of the car. I had looked at a few 1931 S/W sedans, but they were all too expensive, or improperly restored. The nice ones were not for sale.

In July 1998 a classified ad offering a 1932 Ford sedan appeared in an Ontario newspaper I subscribed to. The price sounded great, but it wasn't a Model A. Oh well, at that point I was giving up on my search for a 1931 S/W sedan, and called immediately about the '32 Fordor. The owner was Sandy Dunbabin in Timmins, Ontario. He gave me an honest description of the car. It was a driver which was repainted in 1984 over the original paint. He had bought it at the big swap meet at Barrie some years before.

I arranged to send him a disposable camera to take some pics for me. About an hour after I called, I regained consciousness and realized that the sale of this car to someone (else) was not going to wait for my silly cardboard camera and Canada Post.

I made arrangements at work to take off a couple of days, and called my buddy Bob to borrow his trailer. I then called Sandy back and told him I was leaving tomorrow for Timmins with a trailer and cash in hand. If I liked the car when I got there, it was sold. If I didn't like it, I'd turn around and not spend any more of his time or mine. No hard feelings.

Ever been to Timmins before? Me neither! It is in remote northern Ontario. It has a recent gold mining history, and is the hometown of Shania Twain I believe. Recently the mines have closed, and jobs and money are harder to come by in Timmins.

I'll tell you another thing you need to know if you go to Timmins. The official gratis Ontario Provincial map uses a different scale on the front page than on the back page. The folded poster-sized official map is my favorite map to use in Ontario, but Timmins is so far north that it doesn't fit on the main front page. On the back of the map is the northern half of the province including Timmins. What I failed to realize is that Ontario is so big that the back page showing the northern half uses a different scale just to be able to fit it all on the page.

My wife and I left Pontiac, Michigan the next day in the Tahoe with Bob's trailer and headed north on I-75. We made it to the Mackinac Bridge with no problem and crossed into the Upper Peninsula. Then we headed east to the crossing at Sault Ste. Marie. We made it to the Soo by night and stayed on the US side.

In the morning we passed through Canada Customs/Immigration. "Where are you going?" says the man in the white shirt. "Timmins". "How long are you going to stay?" he asks. "Just today, I am going to pick up an antique car." "I don't think so!" he laughs. Turns out that Timmins is nearly twice as far from the Soo as I had guessed due to my not reading the map scale. He and his buddies must have had some laugh at the dumbazz American!

We headed north on the western route to Timmins through the most beautiful scenery. Canada is fantastic! The road was all well paved but narrow two lane blacktop. There was a coach stop with gas and food every 100 kilometers or so. Not much else in between except beautiful forest. There were several single lane Bailey bridges making the water crossings. The road would narrow down to one lane at the bridge, but we never had any opposing traffic so we flew right through.

After a long days drive, we made it to Sandy's just before dusk. Sandy had a large rural property with several dozen antique cars he was selling. He was leaving and moving towards Sudbury to look for work. We made introductions, and then we spent 20 minutes looking at the car and driving it around his property. It needed more work and updating than I had wanted, but it was solid and unmolested and the price was right. We made the deal and loaded it on the trailer just before darkness fell.

We got a hotel room that night and stayed in Timmins. Now I see why Canada Customs thought it was so funny that I would make this a one day trip. The next morning we started back heading south towards Sudbury and along the beautiful Georgian Bay. Then west to London, and crossing back to Michigan at Sarnia. We made US Customs in Port Huron that night and had no problems. They inspected the registration and bill of sale and we were on our way. Home by midnight I believe.


Epilogue

The Canadian newspaper ads printed above are the ones that appeared in July 1998, the week after I purchased the Model B Fordor. The ad for the Model B had not been pulled yet and is on the bottom, but a new ad appeared at the top. This one was for a restored 1931 Slant Windshield Standard Fordor Sedan (160A)! Yikes! This was the car I had been seeking for years.

I got on the phone and made arrangements to see the car after work. Sombra is right across the river, and is only about two hours away. My wife and I took off and made the ferry crossing at Sombra. The owner lived nearby. We made it by dusk, and reviewed the car inside his pole barn.

The owner was an executive at Dow Chemical of Canada and had owned the car since the early 1970s. It was a very solid and complete original. Due to his job and family, he never had the time to restore the car himself, so by 1991 he had the resources to have a professional ($30,000) restoration performed on the car.

After restoration, the car was driven in a few parades and family functions and not much else. When it was complete came the realization that what he really wanted all those years was to restore the car himself, not to have a car that someone else restored. Thus it was now for sale.

The 1931 slant windshield sedan was exactly the car I had been looking for all along, and the price ($10,000 US due to exchange rate) was amazing and hard to deny for a professionally restored car. It was a very nice car, and mostly correctly done.

The 160A Standard Fordor sedan is quite unusual in the US. Most I have ever seen are in Canada. Most slant window sedans in the US are 160B Town Sedans (with cowl lights and deluxe upholstery and carpet, etc.) However in Canada (harder hit by the depression), a lot of 160A Standard Fordor sedans were built and sold to poor Canadian farmers as a value vehicle. The 160A had basic upholstery, rubber mats / no carpet, no cowl lamps, etc.

My only problem was that I had just gotten through buying a Model B Ford the week before and had neither the money nor the space to have another car. I considered selling my new Model B in order to be able to buy the Model A, but quickly decided that opportunities to reasonably buy 1932 Fords are rare, whereas the Model A was theoretically 'replaceable'. I decided to pass on the Model A.

Thus I became a Deuce owner, and I've never regretted it!

After Unloading


August 1998