Pre-war Performance: 1935 Ford Model 48 Roadster

Located in Vernon Hills, Illinois, this rumble seat-equipped Ford is listed here on eBay. The current bid is just shy of $17,000, but the reserve has not been met. With only two days left in the auction, though, we’ll soon see if this V8 roadster is headed for a new home or staying in the north Chicago suburbs.

“For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has every other car skinned and even if my business hasn’t been strictly legal it don’t hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you’ve got in the V8.” High praise from Clyde Barrow, from a letter to Henry Ford written in April of 1934, just a month before the famed bank robber would meet his end in a hail of bullets in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. True to form, at the end he was driving a 1934 Ford Deluxe V8. It’s interesting to speculate what Barrow would make of the 1935 model, which was a substantial departure from the previous years. Although his beloved 85 bhp V8 was retained, the changes– including an integrated trunk, a lower body, and increased room for the driver and passengers– improved both functionality and handling.

This is likely a standard roadster (the clearest differences from the Deluxe trim level are the lack of a spare tire cover and the V8 hood ornament), and, taking into account the age of the vehicle, it’s in pretty good shape. The worst rust one can see from the pictures is some serious damage to the frame. Fortunately, the car seems to come with a replacement for that section. There are only a few other areas of concern that are both immediately apparent and not attributable to almost 90 years of service, notably the metal screws protruding from the bottom of the car.

Although a close personal inspection is always good policy, it’s not unreasonable to expect that this example would clean up well and that it might not take too much to get it back on the road. A full restoration, mitigating all the rust, is a different matter, of course. In either case, the buyer will benefit from the place the Ford V8 holds in automotive history: the mechanical simplicity and long popularity of this robust engine and three-speed transmission means that there is a wealth of experience and technical resources available. As an entry into the world of pre-war motoring, you could definitely do worse– a more rare marque can easily have even an experienced enthusiast screaming in frustration or calling the machine shop in an effort to get that one part that no one seems to have. More, the Ford has the power and speed necessary to hold its own in regular traffic; while it might not be the best choice for a daily driver, it can certainly be driven to where it’s going. Even if it’s just a quick trip to the bank.



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  1. DavidH

    “It can certainly could be driven to where its going. Even if it is a quick trip to the bank.”
    Nice. Good write up. Thanks for the history.

    Like 10
  2. vintagehotrods

    Actually this is a 1935 Ford Ford Convertible Cabriolet, not a roadster (which were actually called a Deluxe Roadster). Cabriolets are distinguished by their fixed windshields and roll up windows, as opposed to a roadster with windshield stanchions and side curtains.

    Like 10
    • Francisco

      It is advertised as a cabriolet.

      Like 1
      • vintagehotrods

        Yes it is, which makes the title of this article a mystery!

        Like 3
  3. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I sure would like to have this car. Yet, I have neither the skill nor the bank account to support the project. If I should ever be in a position to purchase one it will have to be one already in immaculate condition, which ofcourse puts the price out of range.
    God bless America

    Like 6
  4. Mike

    My parents had one in 1944 when my Father was stationed at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Tx. I have pictures of them posing beside the car.

    Like 2
  5. Mountainwoodie

    Looks about what one might expect of a 1935 Ford put away under less than desirable conditions. In the video it sounds like its not running on all cylinders though tht could just be the sound.

    A very handsome design but it’s going to take an awful lot to address ninety years of rot. There are worse ways to spend a lot of money ! :)

    Like 1
  6. Big Art

    How does one get into the Rumble Seat in the Back ?

    • vintagehotrods

      You have to be pretty agile to get into the rumble seat and that’s why kids and young people were usually assigned to sit back there.

      On my ’37 Ford Cabriolet there are two step pads to step on the passenger side, one in front of the rear bumper and another pad on top of the left rear fender. So you place your left foot on the pad on the rear bumper, then your right foot on the fender pad and then your left foot on the rumble seat and you’re in.

      Here’s a pic of them on my ’37 Cabriolet

      The ’37 Cabriolet

      Many years ago, I had a very old couple talk to me when I was driving one of my old Fords, a ’32 roadster, and they asked if it had a rumble seat. They told me when they were kids they had to ride in the rumble seat of their parents cars, even in the winter time and they froze their butts off. They weren’t a big fan of the rumble seat!

      Like 1
  7. MikeH

    Note in the third pic on eBay, the is a rubber step on the fender. There should be one on the bumper support as well.

  8. Merrill Newman

    Super rare accessory windwings!

  9. Bhowe Member

    Very good write up and wordsmithing sir.

  10. Kenn

    Must have been left outside in the snow. Frame rot like that doesn’t just happen ’cause of age.

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