Hoarder Hidden for 40+Years: 1946 Ford Tudor Sedan

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I am not sure how things are where our readers live, but, around here, every new hot rod that shows up is perfect from stem to stern.  It seems unthinkable to many to display a car built from used parts.  This phenomenon is one of the major reasons why hot rod building is a slowly dying craft.  We need a return to normalcy.  This 1946 Ford tudor sedan for sale on Craigslist in Detroit, Michigan may be a good first step towards bringing hot rods back to their roots.  How?  This tidy little Alabama-rooted tudor was likely built decades ago with bits and pieces sourced from junkyards and there are a few moonshiner surprises underneath as well.  The best part is that this rolling history lesson is being offered for $5,000.  It even runs!  Well, kind of.  Would you like to get this vintage build back on the road to show a new generation how cars were built before credit cards and Summit Speed Parts catalogs?  Thanks go to Mitchell G. for the old-school hot rod tip!

If you find yourself at a major hot rod show today, it is easy to conclude that the hobby needs new blood.  This is not a dig at the faithful who still attend these shows and carry the torch for hot rod culture.  The problem is that the hobby needs to have younger people involved if it is going to survive.  Surely one of the biggest obstacles to their participation is money.  Modern hot rods have evolved into a rolling aftermarket catalog of goodies.  Many of these cars have creature comforts that would make a Lexus owner blush.  That is fine for those with deep pockets, but there needs to be an organized focus on rewarding those who build cars using used parts and show creativity.  Hot rods were traditionally built by young people with young people budgets.  It is time for that aspect of the hobby to return.

One of the ways that we can get the hobby back to its roots is to find cars like this 1946 Ford tudor and get them back on the road to serve as examples.   The story of this Ford is a unique one.  According to the seller, this car was found in a garage in Detroit a few years ago.  Believed to have been locked away in that dark and dry garage for over 40 years, this car was buried under an avalanche of hoarder stuff.  The car was unceremoniously dug out from its detritus cocoon and extricated from the garage.  Once it stepped into the light, more clues to its past emerged.

The first big discovery was that this was an Alabama car.  The only obvious clue is the tag below which may have been used for the tow up and nothing more.  We don’t know if the car was originally sold in Alabama or that was its last home before it headed to Detroit for whatever reason.  There was a tow cradle (tow bar?) on the front end and a sign in the rear-view window.  What would prompt someone in Detroit to flat tow an Alabama car back to the home of the automobile industry in America?  Did the previous owner move to Detroit from Alabama?  Were they missing a Ford tudor in their collection of hoarded items and found this one?  Like the age-old question of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop, perhaps we will never know.

Once the hood was opened, the seller was surprised to find a Nailhead Buick V-8 instead of a 24-stud Flathead V-8.  This engine, nicknamed for its long, almost vertical valves, debuted in 1953.  The first-generation engines ran from then until 1956, with the second generation enjoying a long production run that stretched into 1966.  We are not told a date for the engine pictured below.  However, I hope that one of our eagle-eyed readers can scrutinize the picture below and give us an idea of just when this engine was produced.  From there, whoever installed the engine used an Offenhauser bell housing adapter to mate the replacement engine to a standard floor-shift Ford three-speed transmission.  This transmission is either out of a Ford truck of the era or has been pulled from an earlier car.  This Ford would have left the factory with a column shifter.  Too bad they butchered the floor pan to do this.

The seller assures us that the car has very little rust and can be described as solid.  They have also managed to get the Nailhead engine to run and it “runs, drives, and stops to some degree.”  Believe it or not, the carburetor is currently being fed from the fuel lines and tank that were in the car when it was purchased.  The car is described as being in the condition it was found in except for a rudimentary car wash has been performed to rid the car of hoarder dust and grime.

The most interesting aspect of this car is shown in the picture above.  Look carefully at the wrapped rear leaf spring and the bar coming off the center of the car towards the end of the axle.  To my knowledge, this is not the traditional setup you would find under a 1946 Ford.  Given the weight of a full load of moonshine, those who built up cars to haul illegal white liquor would beef up the rear ends of their cars so there would be no tell-tale sagging in the rear end to cause suspicion.  The most common method would be to install more leaves in the primary spring set or run a double row of springs.  There is no telling what is under that wrapping.  I also don’t think that springs were even wrapped like this from the factory.  Does anyone have an idea of why we are seeing this setup?

The seller clearly states that they have no idea what this car was used for.  Was it a hot rod or a race car?  Or was it a moonshine car?  To add to the muddiness, could this simply be a car built as a hot rod with traditional Southern moonshine runner tricks like the Nailhead and the beefed-up suspension added to it?  It would be appreciated if our readers who are in the know about such matters would analyze the pictures and give us their opinion.

Regardless of its lineage, this car is more than the sum of its used parts.  Cleaned up and displayed, a car like this could spark the interest of someone younger.  The lack of high-dollar items also provides a roadmap of how things were done back in the day and how they could be done again.  People need to see how a car was built back then without dump trucks full of money.

What do you think the history of this car is?  Can you provide us with any clues about what you see in the pictures?  Please share your opinions and findings in the comments.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Terrry

    “And there was thunder, thunder over Thunder Road, thunder was his engine and white lightning was his load…”

    Like 6
  2. Joe Haska

    I built a 46 Ford 2-door several years ago ,I paid 5 K for it was a running car with a Ford six. The body and trim were all there and in good shape. I put a dropped axle in it ,pulled out the 6 and put a SBC which was given to me because it needed a valve job, I adapted to the early Ford running gear ,added A/C and drove it daily.
    This car is not even close to the condition of the one I had, but in sinc with the write up you could make a driver out of it with used parts. If the engine is OK ,along with the trans, which is a 39 Ford, and if the brakes are NFG there are many options available with used parts. The rear end is typical , many wrapped the springs ,the sway bar is stock,and it has long shackles,to lower it. The usual problem is they are generally low geared, commonly 4:11 way too low, for most OHV engines.
    As I remember I had about 10 K in my car and I sold it for 17 K. I think you could do similar numbers with this car, using mostly used parts. It’s called Hot Rodding!

    Like 11
  3. RKS

    Oh boy here come the arm chair hot rodders and auction watchers to agree that car building is dying. Can’t forget the guys who will complain it has a GM engine in it. Well I better wipe I’m done here lol.

    Like 3
    • stillrunners stillrunnersMember

      Had a nicer one with seats al ready done and new re-chromed bumpers with a little 283 hooked to the 3 on tree. Not running but not locked up – couldn’t muster $2500 w/title a few years ago at the Pate swap meet. Sold it for around 2k to one of Pete’s buddies.

      This one’s ad reads with just to many ????? and no pictures of it post running condition. No real mods except the Buick and a early top loader with most likely has the new gears in it.

      Mopar radiator if anyone cares.

      Like 0
  4. Kenneth Carney

    …he brought moonshine moonshine
    to quench the devil’s thirst. The law
    men never got him ’cause the devil got him first. But I digress. If ever there was a better candidate for an old school hot rod, it would have to be
    this car. Gonna say the engine is either a 264 or a 322. Whichever it is,
    a ’39 gear box was the way to go back
    then. Stuff it with 24 tooth gears from a Lincoln Zephyr and you had a
    a winner. That drive line would’ve
    been bulletproof for the time and still
    is today. And as for the Gen Z crowd,
    forget about it. If it’s not run by a computer, or a touch screen, or pushbuttons, they don’t want it. When
    we’re gone the hobby will be too.

    Like 7
    • Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rackMember

      Another fascinating find and terrific write up by Jeff.

      Kenneth Carney, your comments and knowledge open up an era that yes is dwindling but s not yet gone. Though we bemoan the shrinking pool of those learned in the past practices such as these, the interest still continues as is evident when we look around. My goddaughter, a phenomenal educator in her own right consistently shares her love for cars-and working on them-with others as an outlet and teaching tool. My SIL does the same, as does a former coworker of mine that is now a the leader of her division.

      We’re not done yet; as long as we’ve got someone that shares their knowledge and experiences it’ll continue!

      Like 7
    • Lowell Peterson

      Its a hobby! Hotrod it and take it to the grave ! Who cares that our spoiled pampered grandkids don’t want it!

      Like 0
  5. Haydn Taylor

    This is my car! What a great article, I love it!

    Like 0
  6. haydn taylor

    Great article, thanks.

    My name is Haydn and I am the owner and here is the Craiglist ad:


    Like 2
    • RMac

      Cool find hayden

      Like 1
  7. George Birth

    It might make a stock rod, Stock Body with high performance goodies added. I wondwer where the trans., went, as there is none in the photo’s provided. Set up right, this could be one heck of a sleeper that would catch a lot of Mustangs and Vettes
    at a stop light by surprise.

    Like 1
  8. Howard K Minnick

    Rear springs were wrapped as shown on numerous cars from the factory. It is not uncommon. The wrappings that I am familiar with had zerk fittings threaded in them to allow grease to be infused around and into the spring leaves to silence the squeaking of the rear “buggy” springs. Many have been removed over the years when rear axel servicing became necessary.

    Like 2
  9. bobhess bobhessMember

    Agree with all the above comments. The “sway bar”is actually called a panhard rod and keeps the rear of the car stabilized by not letting the shackles swing back and forth. I’ve got some time with a ’46 but don’t remember details about the panhard rod. Have them on my race cars to keep the rear end stable and keep the springs from having too much load when in hard corners. Sounds like something a moonshine runner would put on a car.

    Like 4
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      NASCAR calls them track rods.

      Like 0
  10. Bunky

    Awesome find! I like Ford engines in Fords, and Chevy engines in Chevys. That being said- I don’t find the Nailhead offensive. At least it’s not a SBC/Belly Button. (Everybody has one) Hopefully this gem won’t get “restored”. Great write up.
    Unceremoniously, cocoon, detritus, and extricated, in one sentence- that’s gotta be some kinda record! 😉

    Like 1
  11. ET

    The seller assures us that the car has very little rust,,,,,,lol, uh ok.

    Like 0
    • Haydn Taylor

      VERY little (the seller)

      Like 2
  12. Dave

    Funny how at the first side view photo glance, I thought it was a 444 Volvo, so clicked on it. But I like Fords and old Volvos, have owned a bunch of both! Nice car will find a home soon.

    Like 2
    • RMac

      Dave- I was thinking the same thing how the later Volvo 444 and 544 look so much like a 7/8 version of this I would love to have this and go old school with it almost rat rod

      Like 0
  13. Robt

    Nice project. Would keep it as is as much as possible but make it road worthy. I’d bet it was quite a runner in its day.
    Does seem to have some rust looking at the removed floor board.

    Like 0
  14. Joe D FarrisMember

    Love the ash trays on the dash.

    Like 0
  15. Haydn Taylor
  16. Malcolm Greer

    No matter how “all y’all” spin Mr. Bennett’s write-up, he hit one nail (pun intended) squarely on the head…the car hobby as a git yer hans dirty activity is definitely in the short rows. Where we used to pull home and rebuild the very vehicles (’cause we likely got ’em for less than $50) now hawked on the ebay’s and CL’s of the world, most of these will likely end up as aborted wishes. I know, because I’m VP of a local chapter of the AACA. We put on an annual show & judging, and all but the “rat rods) are pristine show cars that are their owner’s “fishing poles” to catch the most chrome in a given year. In other words, the vast majority of them, buy, not build, their vehicles. All I can say is I hope the local high schools, and community colleges’ body shops keep attracting the young entrants to the hobby. Thanks for letting me vent.

    Like 0
  17. CCFisher

    Hot rodding is alive and well with younger enthusiasts. Like the rest of us, they build cars that appeal to them, and a 1940 Ford has very little appeal among the under-30 crowd. They’re more apt to build something like a turn-of-the-century Honda Civic or BMW 3-series. The interesting thing is, many of them do it exactly the way Jeff described – used parts mixed and matched to create a unique, high-performance ride. The sad truth is, as enthusiasts age out of the hobby, so do the cars they covet.

    Like 0

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