SEMA Road Warrior: 1937 Ford Phaeton

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It is not often that we see cars make repeat appearances on Barn Finds.  However, this distinctive rat rod is making its third appearance on these pages due mainly to its “uniqueness.”  Built for the 2007 SEMA show, this 1937 Ford Phaeton was thrown together from three cars to create a purpose-built rat rod to drive to that event.  What resulted either breaks purists hearts or puts the wind in the sails of those who swing a torch and a Sawzall.  Bidding starts at $64,888 for this relic on eBay, and it can be found in quaint Mascotte, Florida.  Does all that uniqueness add up enough to justify the high price tag?

The whole deal started with a challenge in 2005.  Some enterprising individual suggested that a number of manufacturers who were to display at SEMA should build a car with one or more of their products installed and actually drive it to the show.  Given that SEMA is packed to the gills with trailer queens, this was a very radical concept.    So Dayton Wheels entered what soon would be called the Dirty Driven Tour and proceeded to construct this phaeton from parts of three different cars along a rat rod theme.

You have to bear in mind with this car that a phaeton is a rather unique body style.  With a convertible top, four doors, and side curtains rather than windows, a phaeton makes for a very beautiful car for parades and gentle cruising.  If you use it as a cross country traveling vehicle, then the flapping of the top along with the poor weather protection afforded by the side curtains will make you long for a sedan.  Add to that the lack of structural integrity a large open car brings to the show, and you begin to see why this car was an unusual choice.  Still, they made it work and the car completed the journey in 2007.

What did they change on the car?  Other than the Dayton wire wheels, there were quite a few enhancements.  Power was provided by a 1953 Mercury Flathead engine backed up by a 5-speed transmission.  The interior was updated with custom leather seating,  back up camera, and a modern sound system.  Another unique fixture is a second windshield that was a dealer installed item in 1937.

We can also see that the car had problems with the doors shutting correctly.  Take a close look at the picture above.  See the light shining through between the back of the rear door and the pillar?  Then, look at the post added to the pillar closest to the camera.  The open spot below is where the factory striker plate should be.  The locking post was likely added to secure the doors on this car.  Setting a phaeton body on a frame requires shimming in different areas between the frame and the body to make the car sit level.  A car that has not been leveled will have such problems.  Regardless, they drove it across the country so the doors must close and latch securely.

All and all, it is a cool car.  You cannot fault the logic of making a SEMA car that is drivable.  It was a great project for the time, and it will likely provide the new owner with a lot of driving pleasure.  Is it worth the lofty asking price though?  Let us know your thoughts.

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  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    When I first saw this car I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Still the same today. The “look” is as good as it gets.

    Like 2
  2. Poncho

    A lot of options out there for the starting bid price of $65k. I’m just sayin!!!!

    Like 5
  3. TRPIV

    I can’t tell if the top goes down. No photos of the car with it down, so do I assume it’s a fixed top? Did “Smash Customs” (the current seller) build the car for Dayton Wheels? Not a lot of detailed photos of the car. Maybe I missed the link.

    Neat car. Cool concept. Not my favorite build. I’d like my 65k to be used differently. ;)

    Best to the seller.

    Like 4
  4. Joe Haska

    I remember when this project was started, I think I thought it was allott cooler then, than I do now I thought one of the builders involved was Ken Finicle at Posies, but I am not sure. The price seems high , but looks are decieving this is not the down and dirty cheap build, they want you to think it is.

    Like 1
  5. Dave

    Makes it look like the Dexter’s Demon Hot Wheels car.

    Like 0
  6. Solosolo UK ken tillyMember

    Absolute rubbish. Crush it quickly before it contaminates cars parked nearby.

    Like 2
    • Dusty Stalz

      Translation- “It doesn’t suit my taste so it should be destroyed.” I think the price is a bit high but it looks like a hoot to drive. Btw cars can’t transmit viruses or contaminate each other in close proximity lol.

      Like 1
      • Chris M.

        Exactly! It’s pretty damn cool the way it’s built. I agree that it’s priced very aggressively and that is due to the media attention it received during the build. There’s alot of creativity to be appreciated here and you can’t ignore it fulfills basic function beautifully.

        Like 2
  7. bobhess bobhessMember

    P.S. I would probably pull this one apart and paint it. It deserves to shine. No other changes needed.

    Like 3
    • walt

      Yea I would paint it 2 1st thing, CLEAR! I love Rat Rods, I bet this piece of s— runs like a raped Ape! Rodders put a lot of work/hi tech in the running gear. $ out of my league, but so very cool

      Like 0
  8. Chevychase71

    Hey Dusty, how do you know? Maybe Ken knows something we dont. So to the new buyer….PLEASE let me know where you park it. I’d love for my car to catch the cooties!

    Like 1
  9. Vincent Martinelli

    My Uncle John owned this vehicle back in the day and purchased it direct from Posies after the tour. I do not have exact details and my Uncle Johnny, sadly, had since passed. His Giant Barn in upstate NY was filled with a dozen beautiful rides.(Mostly Fords)

    Rat Rods have been around for generations, but this one was very special I think the movement really took off after this car hit the streets. I see they changed the seats and a few other things. 64,000 though.

    Unfortunately, I just dont see a large market of enthusiasts that would understand this vehicle and pay the price.

    My eyes and heart still see my Uncle Johnny rocking that B**ch down the winding rural roads! It was a pretty radical rough ride.

    I love and Miss you Uncle Johnny. Guess this was a little hello for me.

    Like 7
  10. Sam Dibitonto

    Typical of a piece of history being used as a cash cow..I hope that someday REAL collectors will realize MONEY doesn’t make the car..A reasonable price would probably get it back on the road..

    Like 3
  11. Mountainwoodie

    So…..not being particularly enamored of the “rat rod” fad or whatever, I have to say if this was painted, I’d like the look. Funny thing is, back in high school, a teacher had a ’35 Phaeton, close enough, that he parked daily at school. This was in the late Sixties so driving one of these around was not an every day thing when other teachers were rockin 442’s, GTO’s and MG’s….and I had a ’48 Chevy hidden in the woods.

    So when I see this all I can think is what great lines these Phaetons had…and where have all the years gone!

    As for the doors not closing, yup not surprising. You can’t do what the builders did without screwing up the rickety body geometry…much like the need to adjust the center post on postwar Woodies periodically.

    No comment on the price as its all been said.

    Like 3
  12. John B.

    I like phaetons and I appreciate most makes and models. No doubt this car would be a lot of fun but I have to ask myself would I have $65,000 worth of fun?
    I don’t think so!

    Like 0
  13. Little_Cars

    I agree about the stance and after a nice coat of paint (properly prepped, the price will be high…er) I wouldn’t change a thing. Weird to see stereo speakers mounted where the back seat passengers’ legs would be. Then again, at speed you may not be able to hear the music anyway. Nicest ORIGINAL 37 Pheaton I ever saw was at Hershey in the 1970s. It was painted a pale blue and was gorgeous. I’m also a fan of Wedgewood Blue from the 1935-39 period.

    Like 0
  14. John Taylor

    Maybe they mean $6,500 for a starting price, come on apart from a set of gauges etc where is the rest of the value, to quote a show here “tell him he is dreaming”

    Like 1
  15. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    No way under the Sun would I pay $64k plus for this thing.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  16. Chevelle guy

    i really wish people would learn how to take pictures of cars … seriously , if you wanna sell it you gotta pose it , like a model.
    a close up picture of a door speaker… 3 pictures of the front seat … come on man !!! pose that car with some good lighting and make it scream BUY ME !!

    Like 4
  17. Solosolo UK ken tillyMember

    It’s making it’s third appearance on BF not because of it’s uniqueness but because nobody is willing to pay so much money for scrap metal IMHO. Definitely a parts car.

    Like 0
  18. Tricky

    Zero bids, I wonder why…!!!??

    Like 0

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