Dayton’s Rat Rod: 1937 Ford Phaeton


We’ve come across a large number of barn finds that aren’t desirable enough to justify an expensive restoration, but solid enough that it’s a shame to see them go to waste. So what do you do with finds like that? Well, you can throw financial concerns out the window and just restore them. While I don’t hate that option, I don’t have the kind of funds to do that, so what Dayton Wire Wheels did with this ’37 Ford just makes sense to me. It was found in a barn just down the road from their headquarters and was purchased to be built for SEMA. While it is rare enough to have justified a restoration, someone had already chopped it up to build a hot rod. So rather than undo what had been done, they decided to roll with it and it turned out awesome. They drove it all the way to SEMA in 2007. It’s now listed here on eBay in Washington, New Jersey with a current bid of $19k.


This Phaeton was fitted from the dealer with the rare second windshield, making it a truly rare and incredible find. The truth is that it could have been a regular old sedan though and it would still be awesome! I doubt what all Dayton did to it was cheap, but they also did more than necessary to get it back on the road. Even counting for the upgrades, I bet it was still considerably cheaper than fully restoring it would have been. The body and paint work alone would have cost a small fortune!


Getting it back on the road required chassis work, installing a fresh flathead V8, patching the floors and replacing the brakes. Since it was to drive from Cincinnati, Ohio to Las Vegas, Nevada and then be put on display at SEMA, things like the brakes were upgraded for improved performance and safety. They also installed a 5 speed to make highway cruising more comfortable. As you look it over, you start to notice all the really cool details that they added!


If this had been an uncut Phaeton, I might not be so enthusiastic about the decision to customize it, but the damage had already been done. So why not just finish it up and enjoy it for what it is? Plus, it’s great to see what can be done to an old barn find with some hard work and a little imagination. If you have a sweet rat or hot rod sitting in your garage that you saved, we sure would love to see it!


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  1. PackardMike

    I love the look! All modern mechanicals, but barn find fresh body look. Not sure I am brave enough to drive it cross country. Then again, why not! Only need money….

  2. Dennis M

    What a great looking ride! Perfect stance and a great idea to leave it as close to “as found” as possible.

    As the former owner of a slightly modified ’39 convertible sedan I applaud their effort!

  3. Alan Brase

    I wonder what the reserve is, $40k? I’ll bet they have that in it. It is very expensive to make it REALLY look like you are a rat rodder. Backup camera is probably necessary, tho a footman would be cheaper. I don’t have a lot of respect for the radiator hoses. Just unnecessary to schlock something so important. But otherwise, well done.
    OOPS! where’s the spare? Deal breaker. Those bias plys can’t be relied upon.

  4. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

    I love it!!! Surprisingly, the wire rims even look crusty. If you have ever been to the Dayton booth then you know this had to be uncomfortable for them.

  5. Jim Mc

    Gotta hand it the shop, this is sweet. I like the all mod cons, 5-speed, brakes & all. But they should have painted it. Or at least primered it solid color all the way round. As it is, with the spokes & knockoffs, it looks like Mad Max Rommel’s North African Ratrod.
    My opinion only. YMMV.

  6. Alan Brase

    It does have that WWII staff car look! Rode hard, put away wet. Ready for more.

  7. Chebby

    I don’t know if ‘sinister’ is the right word for this, but it is a damn cool car. They did a great job.

    With all the possibilities for a shifter knob, don’t know why they chose one that screams “1980’s GM”.

  8. 70kingswood

    really cool and has the right “stance”. I love it!

  9. Terry


  10. Vincent Martinelli

    My Uncle Johnny Martinelli purchased this vehicle many years ago. He was an avid collector and sadly, passed away on March 3, 2016 of cancer. His barn / shop, which was upstate New York, held many many classics. His death left the family devastated. His love for fine machinery and quality builds was unsurpassed. His love for his family was unparalleled. I just wish that the guy who bought these vehicles and currently has three for sale would give my uncle some credit. He also told his daughters he would treasure them and they were so glad they were going to be in this mans collection. It just sucks that they are all for sale again. Guess there is nothing I can do. These cars were part of our family and my uncles soul forever. Just wish the dude whos selling them would give a shout out to my uncle, considering he knows my family. Im not mad, just feeling hurt and sad for my uncle, who suffered so badly.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Sorry for your loss. Did your uncle build this car or did he acquire it this way or did Dayton have it done?

      • Vincent Martinelli

        No, my uncle John did not do this build. He purchased it from Posies and or the original builders. He cherished that ride. The Ford hes sitting in has an early Chrysler Hemi he pulled out of a DeSoto. It was his daily driver and sadly, its for sale by the same guy whos selling the 37. It too is on Ebay.

  11. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Love this!!!!!

    They did it right and now someone else can decide if they want to restore it and show or drive it for fun.

  12. Jack

    +1 I love this build too! Looks right at home with those wire wheels! I’m not sure I want to know how much I would have to pay to play with this…..


    It’s on the road, that’s what counts! The wire wheels are not for this vehicle , they are for low riders! Use some Kelsy-Hayes or steelies!

  14. r. bruce

    Not really a rat rod person, but this is what one should look like (at least in my opinion), worn finish, but not a rust bucket like the ones they palm off on “American Pickers”.

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