One of the great things about an addiction to cars are the special superpowers.
One superpower is, of course, the ability to spot an interesting car in a parking lot jammed with hundreds of cars and trucks.
People like Jim Pickering and Chad Taylor, my co-workers (and friends) at Linkage Magazine, can spot all the extra-special cars with one glance into an auction tent full of special cars. We’ll talk more about that weird ability on another day.
Anyway, my car-spotting superpower jumped into action this morning when I spotted a 1936 Ford V8 Deluxe in a grocery store parking lot. I pulled in and saw the car — from about 100 yards away.
I love the Ford V8 cars from the early 1930s. I love it that Ford came out with their V8 engine in 1932, right when the Great Depression was ravaging the world economy. Production slowed down for Ford during the grim years of the Great Depression, which put iron chains on life until 1939 or 1941 — depending on which history book you’re reading. Still, Ford kept going with that V8 engine. In fact, Ford kept building this V8 Flathead engine through 1952.
I also love that these cars were the muscle cars of their day — and the preferred ride of bank robbers and moonshine smugglers. It was good to outrun the competition — or the law.
Ford didn’t make a ton of V8s during the Depression — production lines made much fewer cars than they did during the high-flying 1920s. And then World War II shut down passenger car production until 1946. Then, right after the war ended, hot rodders with hard-earned skills from the war effort turned their attention to Ford V8 cars.
Many Ford V8 cars were modified, especially the ones built from 1932 to 1934.
So, it’s kind of rare to see a non-modified 1930s Ford V8 out in the wild and driving around.
This one looked pretty great. It sounded great too, although I had to loaf around in that parking lot for 20 minutes before the owner came out and fired up his car. I followed that old Ford out of the parking lot, just to hear the rumbly, muscular engine sound when the driver shifted gears. I must have followed that car — which moved right along down the highway — for about 10 miles.
As I drove home, it struck me that a 1936 car is now 86 years old. To put that in perspective, a person born in 1850 was 86 years old when this 1936 V8 Deluxe came off the line.
We forget how cars are a pretty recent blip in human history, although they’re a pretty big blip.
Another superpower that we have is celebrating summer by taking out all of our old cars and driving them around.
I bet you summer car superpower has kicked in, and I suspect you’ve taken your old car — or cars — out of the garage. An idling V8 is one of the greatest sounds of summer — even if you have to wait 20 minutes to hear it.