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Shoebox Survivor: 1949 Ford Custom Sedan

This 1949 Ford Custom was is said to have been used for several years to pull a 1948 Main Line trailer into the California mountains. The car is purportedly a low-mileage survivor which still resides in the California town of Tehama. It can be found here on eBay with a requested opening bid of $5,500 and a buy-it-now price of $7,250. Surprisingly, there have been no bids on the car. I’m guessing the 4-door configuration is the only thing holding down the value. If this was a 2-door coupe or convertible, you can guarantee this car would probably command a 5-figure price.

The interior has a few tears in the seat, but what would you expect from 70-year-old upholstery? Overall, the interior is in great condition and wouldn’t need much to get it back to looking nice. As you would expect, the rear seat looks pretty good with no obvious issues.

The seller says the flathead V8 is “the sweetest running stock 8BA I have ever heard” and they have a video to prove it. According to the ad, this car is a 32K mile survivor and was driven by a “little old lady.” The clutch is supposedly strong but the master cylinder doesn’t work, so there are no brakes. Overall, the engine compartment looks pretty original with only maintenance items being done.

I love the V8 grilles on 1949 and ’50 Ford sedans. The bullet-nose is similar to a Studebaker but is a little more subtle. Unfortunately, it looks like the “O” is missing on the hood, but that shouldn’t be too hard to find. According to the ad, the car was repainted to the flat red you see on the car now but was originally dark maroon. I’m not sure if this car will find a new home, but hopefully, it will. What do you think about 4-door cars from the 1950s?


  1. Avatar photo Fred W

    I love these, but by the time you put a decent paint job on it you will already have too much in it. Polish up the paint, install new seat covers, fix the brakes and drive as is.

    Like 20
  2. Avatar photo Phlathead Phil

    Unreliable to take anywhere in a 6 volt system.

    Rear gears are set for 50 M.P.H.

    Ask me how I know?

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Al

      No I don’t want to know, but it sounds reasonable.

      Like 7
    • Avatar photo Dual Jetfire

      6 volt is no big deal. But driving 45-50 will absolutely drive one nuts!

      Like 9
    • Avatar photo Erik Tisher

      In 1949, we were a 50 MPH country. Ike changed that.

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo rodrocket

      Sorry Phlathead but I drive a 1950 Shoebox straight 6 w/o overdrive & a 6 volt system, never a problem & it cruises quite nicely @ 60 mph. —65 & she’s wound out though.

      Like 7
      • Avatar photo Bryan G

        My Fordor is a ’51, 6 cyl, 6 volt, 3 speed. Always starts, never a bit of trouble out of the 6 voltage system. I’ve driven it a few times at 70 mph; took it to church this morning and passed someone on the two-lane blacktop, right up to 70 without complaint.

        The trick is to not worry about return on investment when you buy a car like this. Consider any money you put into it an entertainment expense, or merely maintenance. What kind of late model ride would you find for this price? Nothing so interesting as a Shoebox.

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo Phlathead Phil & Phyllis.

        Well, you might be the exception to the rule!

        And, there is ALWAYS an exception.

        Yours no doubt is in “tip top” condition, but doing a ‘cross country’ or up the I-5 in Cali ?

        Risky, very risky at the least. Problem is this; with an old car, broken down miles from nowhere you are a 🎯 for thrives, muggers and the like.

        I’ll take my F-350 twin turbo with a/c any day.

        Even Phyllis Phlathead agrees!

        Did I mention she was an AWESOME cook?

        Ask me how I know!

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo Phlathead Phil

        If 6 volt was the answer for vehicles we’d still have it.

        Like 1
  3. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    I would take this one as is. Clean it and detail it, and DRIVE it. Looks like the interior needs some work. Who says 6V systems are bad? I’ve driven a lot of them a lot of miles with ZERO problems. With the V8 this will cruise at higher than 50. A lot of guys drove these 65 without problems. I drove my ’47 with 3.70 gears at 60 all the time.

    Like 24
    • Avatar photo Fred W

      Prior to the mid 50’s, everyone who drove anywhere did it with a 6v system. There were limitations but in general they got the job done. I’ve found that you can replace the 6v battery with a “Tractor Supply” 8v battery and have more reliable starting without the hassle of a full 12v upgrade.

      Like 16
      • Avatar photo geomechs Member

        For some people using an 8V battery was the ticket. I had a friend who tried vainly to get the power windows in his ’50 Imperial to work, which they did with an 8V battery. I encountered (2) major problems with 8V: 1/ couldn’t find a suitable charger. 2/ had a terrible time dialing in the regulator. Many sulphated/overcharged 8V batteries at the recycle depot. My friend only converted the one and the guy who has it now, took the windows, tracks and regulators completely out, took them apart and cleaned/repaired them. They will now chop your hand off with 6V…

        Like 6
      • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

        Forget 8 volt batteries. What we found in diagnosing lack of electrical amperage [power] was the need for larger battery cables and ground cables. Especially large motors in the late 1940s & the early ’50s like the flathead Cadillac motors and the big Packard 356 9-min bearing motors.

        We used heavy duty welding cables that we had cut and mated to crimped & soldered ring ends. Typical battery cables have strands of copper inside the black rubber or plastic outer casing. However there are voids between the round strands. Welding cables have many more smaller strands, resulting not just smaller voids, but more copper per inch. More copper means it can take more amps.

        We also changed out the old flat copper ground straps, both between the engine and frame, and the body to frame straps. We used larger one for the big trucks.

        Changing the regular battery cables & ground straps out for the heavy duty cables & straps, would make those slow running starter motors wake up and act like they were brand new. I had both a 1941 Cadillac 60S and a 1948 Packard Custom Eight sedan, equipped with the heavy duty starting circuit wiring, and even in national judging, no one noticed the upgrades!

        Like 9
    • Avatar photo Phlathead Phil

      I never said 6v was a bad system. What I meant was it’s archaic. Sure, lots of 6 volt systems are out there, but don’t ask for a jump if you run outta juice. My old scissor lift runs on a 6 volt system, but I have to keep an eye on them batteries constantly. It’s geared for .05 M.P.H. I get odd looks when I get on the freeway, and have to use hand signals ALOT!!!

      Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Djjerme

    So does it include the trailer?

    That’d probably sell it quicker.

    Be fun to have a period setup like that for a road trip…

    Like 12
  5. Avatar photo Paul

    I think these four door shoebox Fords are really handsome, and we used to see them everywhere of course. I’d love to own this one and it wouldn’t be for an investment. I’d lose money by spending to fix the interior and repaint in its original maroon, plus install a taller final drive out back. I’d use it and maintain it.
    Little old lady story may be true, but somewhere along the way, someone added amber turn signal lights up front above the factory lamps.

    Like 6
  6. Avatar photo 370zpp Member

    I used an 8 volt battery in my 54 New Yorker when I still had it. I would trickle charge it at 12 volts, carefully.

    Why would a little old lady (or anyone else for that matter) re-paint this car in flat-red?

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo JP

      The sun probably did the re-paint. Very economical!

      Like 5
  7. Avatar photo no reply

    Having the starting bid at over full retail halts the competitive aspect of an “auction”.

    Like 4
  8. Avatar photo Pat Gill

    they repainted it in red, the sun did the rest! I would love to own it but with shipping and taxes it would be too expensive,

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo Robt

    Nice Ford. How about an overdrive unit with better rear gears? Additional carbs and a hotter cam. Sure then suspension rebuild and a brake upgrade. Why not? Would be a very cool daily driver for a lot less than a new car will set you back.
    And no there is no money in for any kind of a return.
    But a very cool daily driver.

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Maestro1

    I think Robt has it right but I would go further. I’d put power steering in it, maybe Flaming River, and drive it. I’ve had a lot of 6 volt cars and they aren’t
    an issue. Of course 12 is better but we all know about expense and complications. Someone do this and enjoy.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Philip Lepel

    This was my late wife’s favorite car. She wanted one terribly but we never found one in good shape in our price range. This would have been a perfect candidate.

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo HARM R SMIT

    Love this model. Smooth design way ahead of its time. Make it reliable use as is.

    Like 3
  13. Avatar photo Wagonmaster Member

    This was my high-school car, but in light green, in 1965. Bought it with a broken front spindle and that same 8BA flat head. I don’t think I paid more than $25 for it, and it was only a 16 year old car at the time. Rebuilt the motor during my Senior year Auto Shop and enjoyed cruising the Wetson’s off the “Miracle Mile” Had a lot of fun times in that car! I wiish I had time for another project.

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo Marty Parker

    My first car was a ’49 Ford V8. With 3.78 gears it would cruise comfortably at 70 MPH. Speedometers were a little happy in those days but that’s all we had to go by.

    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo MRS. GAIL RIGGINS

    love this car so much . we came to texas in this in 1057. drove like a dream. our car was beautiful black . wish i could buy this one and repaint it and put it back to it’s glory day

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo BarryPratt

    A long time since I have seen on of these vehicles. One belonged to a local Undertaker who actually used a Surf Row Boat to tow & carry a Coffin in of a Surf Club Stalwart who passed away a long time ago. The V8 was a beauty to pull up the hills.

    Like 0
  17. Avatar photo James Brooke

    A ’49 Ford was the first car I can remember my parents having when I was a kid. A 4 door too. Was a good running car. Had the flathead V8 in it. It was light green in color. They drove it from about 1960 to about 1964
    Paid $10.00 for it. Thanks for the memories.

    Like 1

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