Man feels at home in 1937 Ford Standard Coupe

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Author Thomas Wolfe wrote about not going home again, but Dick Shafer believes he can prove him wrong. Back in 1954 Shafer was about to enter high school when he found an irresistible 1937 Ford Standard Coupe.

The 1937 Ford was one of the first efforts by Ford to address streamlining. The design of the 1937 Ford proved to be eye-pleasing and practical. There were extensive stylistic alterations between the 1936 Fords and the 1937 models, including teardrop headlights in the fenders, as well as all-steel body construction prompted by General Motors’ “Turret Top” feature that was introduced in 1936.

Of the 18 various models that Ford offered in 1937, the stylish “Standard” five-window coupe was at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, which goes to show that attractive styling doesn’t have to be expensive.

When new, the sleek Ford sold for $586. The teenage Shafer thought he got a bargain at only $320 in 1954. He proudly drove the no-frills Ford during his high school years. He says his only mistake was, “I let it go after high school.”

Shafer saw his second 1937 Ford at a car event in 1980 in Hershey, Pa. It was just like his high school car. As soon as I saw it said, “It’s got to be mine.”

He purchased the Ford and had it delivered to his Virginia home. Climbing in behind the three-spoke steering wheel Shafter felt right at home looking at the 100-mph speedometer.

The two-piece windshield still is functional and can be cranked open at the bottom to allow fresh air into the cabin. On the cowl, forward of the windshield, is a ventilator that can be pushed open to direct cooling air onto the ankles of the cabin occupants.

Unlike earlier Fords, this one has an engine hood hinged at the rear that can be opened by twisting the aerodynamic hood ornament to the side and then lifting the engine hood.

Once opened, the 221-cubic-inch flathead V-8 engine is exposed. It is crowned by an oil bath air cleaner. The engine has an output of a mighty 85 horsepower.

There were 46,481 V-8 engines manufactured that year by Ford. The low-end coupes like Shafer’s weighed 2,496 pounds and rode on a 112-inch wheelbase.

Because this Ford is the Standard version there are no armrests and only a single windshield wiper and one taillight. Shafer has rectified the one taillight situation in the interest of safety. Besides, he says, the two taillights look better.

A recurring overheating problem in the past was eliminated by relocating the water pump. A new Stromberg carburetor helps the car cruise nicely and a complete new brake system makes for stopping without white knuckles.

By April 2013, Shafer moved to Maryland and had his 1937 Ford in the drivable condition in which he was comfortable. Since then, he says, “I use it to go to car shows.”

Reliving old memories comes along whenever Shafter takes his old Ford out for exercise. Such memories could be construed as “going home again.”

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