Dearborn Award Winning
1947 Ford Super Deluxe Sportsman Convertible
Chassis no. 799A173781
239ci OHV V8 Engine
Single Holley Carburetor
100bhp at 3,600rpm
3-Speed Manual Gearbox with Overdrive
Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes
*Dearborn Emeritus Status with the Early Ford V-8 Club
*Exceptional 8-year restoration completed in the late 1990s
*Longtime California car
*Offered with books and tools
*Outstandingly detailed woodwork
The Ford Sportsman
With the end of World War II, there was a huge demand by the civilian population for new cars. The Ford Motor Company, like other manufacturers, had devoted the previous four years to military orders. To hasten postwar production, Ford and the rest of the industry gave their 1942 models a facelift. One new style however appeared in the Ford line in 1946, the model 71, known as the Sportsman Convertible.
The company had been producing station wagons at the Iron Mountain plant on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since the early 1930's. They owned extensive hardwood forests and had a state of the art sawmill and woodworking facility. During 1945, Henry Ford II ordered a wooden bodied convertible as a one-off for personal use. With prewar Chrysler wooden station wagons indicating the presence of a market, the decision to produce the "Sportsman" was made. The first car off the line was put on exhibition in Dearborn and on Christmas day, 1945 went to actress Ella Raines in Hollywood, while she was filming White Tie and Tails.
The 1946 model was priced $200 more than a conventional convertible, which sold for $1436. Production began in earnest in July of 1946 and continued until November of 1947. Total production was 3,525; with 723 in 1946, 2774 in 1947 and 28 for the 1948 model year, making it one of the rarest of all Fords.
The Sportsman used the same "motor-lift" top as the club convertible and had hydraulic push button windows borrowed from Lincoln. The wooden bodies were beautifully detailed and intricate, however the rear deck lid was a masterpiece of compound curved, dovetailed and finger-jointed craftsmanship.
The Motorcar Offered
This enchanting example of the venerable Sportsman was the subject of an exacting body-off restoration that resulted in laudable mechanical and cosmetic quality, leading to numerous awards from one of the Ford niche's most esteemed enthusiast clubs. Constructed in 1947, it is likely one of less than a thousand still in existence.
By the late 1980s, this Ford had been acquired by Southern California collector Art Knapp, who supervised a meticulous 8-year restoration that used only original or new-old-stock parts and components. After completion of the work in 1997, the car was presented at the Early Ford V-8 Club's Western Regional Meet in Rohnert Park, California, where it scored a perfect 1,000 points and earned the club's highest honor, a Dearborn Award.
In August 1999, Mr. Knapp sold the Sportsman to the consignor, a well-known collector based in Malibu, California, who continued the car's exhibition campaign. Additional Dearborn Awards were garnered with a 991-point score at Pismo Beach in 2001, and a 990-point performance at the V-8 Club's 40th Anniversary Meet in Dearborn, Michigan, in 2003. Having won three Dearborn Awards, the Sportsman became eligible for a Dearborn Emeritus, the club's senior honor, which it claimed in Temecula, California, in 2007.
A file of service invoices from the current owner's tenure documents that this car has been dutifully maintained in recent years, ensuring that it drives as wonderfully as it presents. Accompanied by books and tools, the rare wood-bodied Ford convertible will be welcome at any national meet of the Early Ford V-8 Club by merit of its prior accolades. The car's beautiful Pheasant Red paint and nuanced woodwork promise future Concours success, while the Columbia 2-speed overdrive allows for pleasurable cruising at modern speeds. A limited production model representing the top-of-the-line of Ford's early postwar production, this particular Sportsman is one of the finest examples extant as confirmed by the many marque experts who have judged it to be so.