Car Restoration Projects
Quintessential early Ford V8
Greg Farr is a Ford ‘tragic’, with a love of the 1930s blue oval models. Greg’s restored 1936 Model looks resplendent in its bright red clothes, but it took a mountain of blood, sweat and tears to reach this point.
The model featured in this restoration is a 1936 flathead V8 coupé. The flathead (side-valve) V8 engine launched in 1932 and was another masterstroke from the brilliance of Henry Ford, the man who put the everyday American on the road in 1908, with the Model T – an inexpensive, simple and reliable car for the masses. Fifteen million had been built and were travelling the roads on all continents, before the end of the line in 1927.
Old Henry was a teetotaller, who didn’t suffer fools and had what could only be described as an ‘abrasive’ personality. However, he was without doubt a man with great foresight and motoring genius.
From 1917 he spent 10 years building the largest single industrial complex in the world. Ford’s massive River Rouge manufacturing plant, when completed in 1927, covered an area of nearly 370 hectares — 3.64 square kilometres.
It was the realisation of Henry’s dream to produce cars – ‘From iron-ore to a completed vehicle’ – all in the one complex.
The Model T’s successor, the 1927 ‘more luxurious’ Model A, was the first car built at the giant River Rouge Complex. Greg Farr’s 1936 model V8 was the fourth in the series and the first to have the flowing, smoother lines of the ‘art deco’ style.
Greg first saw this car at a Ford club display day and noted just how original it was, even in a not so glamorous, dark brown hue. Because of its originality Greg told the owner, if he ever wanted to sell it, he would be interested.
So, when the call came some years later, Greg went to the owner’s place to reacquaint himself with the Model A. The owner had embarked on a restoration, but apparently lost interest.
“On close inspection I thought the job so far was rough and not very professional,” Greg recalled. “But I was assured that the engine had been properly reconditioned.
“I’d recently sold a Mustang and the money was burning a hole in my pocket, so although I thought the price he was asking a little high, we came to an agreement and I was keen to get started.”
Prior to the Mustang, Greg had owned a 1935 Ford V8 sedan and loved everything about these 1930s-era cars.
The second time around
“With some input by my son Michael, the car was completely dismantled,” said Greg.
“Michael is a panel beater and handy with a spray-gun, so he attended to fettling the bodywork while I checked out the mechanicals.
“It wasn’t long before I found that the engine wasn’t in the condition described.
“One of the cylinder bores was quite scored, so we had to hone all of them and fit new oversize pistons.”
The engine was reconditioned to a first-class standard and carburettor, electrics and ancillaries were either reconditioned or replaced.
Greg found that the original helmet-type, twin-point distributor was hard to keep in tune. Then he met up with Eric Warner, at a NSW Southern Highlands car event. Eric is a Ford engine ‘guru’ and what Eric doesn’t know about side-valve Ford V8s isn’t worth knowing. He advised Greg to fit the later model crab-type distributor, use single points and a six-volt coil and the ignition would be be trouble free.
“How could I possibly doubt the ‘guru’ ?” said Greg. “It hasn’t missed a single beat since.”
Greg said the body’s beaver-tail was rusted and that’s apparently a common problem:
“We found that weld-on replacements were available from the US, so I ordered one and when it arrived Michael set to work and grafted it.”
The suspension and shock absorbers were completely refurbished. Fortunately, the previous owner had replaced the 1936 mechanical braking system with the later 1939-model hydraulic system.
“I just love driving it,” said Greg, with a huge grin on his face. “For a 19 30s’ model car it steers and cruises beautifully.
“The non-sychro gearbox shifts well and with hydraulic brakes it pulls up effortlessly.
“We’ve travelled to several rallies over the years: as far as Adelaide and through much of country Victoria and many parts of NSW,” said Greg Farr.
The beautifully finished Model A is a credit to Greg’s and the Farr family efforts.