Ford V-8 Super DeLuxe Sportsman – 1946

It seemed that many American cars were inauspiciously launched for 1941, just before civilian car production was switched to war work. So it was with Ford, who stretched their two-line range to three, with the entry-level Special and superior DeLuxe joined by the most expensive of all — the Super DeLuxe.

These were destined to return as Ford’s postwar models, albeit with more powerful engines and a few cosmetic body tweaks.

However, one notable newcomer in 1946 was the Super DeLuxe Sportsman. This was a stylish convertible that — along with many other vehicles in the aftermath of World War II — made a virtue of steel-starved necessity by featuring wooden side panels and trunk. But there was also a strong element of self-promotion involved, with old Henry Ford figuring that his somewhat dated prewar cars needed a lift in the period before new models could be introduced, and getting the notion of extending the concept of the company’s ‘woodie’ station wagons into a headline-grabbing road car.

Thus, the hand-built Sportsman Convertible became a major plank of Ford’s marketing efforts, with that stunning body and luxurious art-deco inspired interior featuring heavily in dealer and corporate advertising. The marriage of painstaking craftsmanship, beautiful maple-and-mahogany bodywork and classic styling makes this one of the most collectable Fords ever made, as anyone lucky enough to slip behind the wheel of a Sportsman will testify.

The bodies were assembled alongside those of ‘woodie’ station wagons at Ford’s Iron Mountain facility, starting with a basic convertible body that was carefully customized before being returned to the main factory to be put on a chassis. This meant numbers were limited and only a few thousand of these impressive convertibles were made before — job done — they were discontinued when the all-new 1949 Fords finally arrived on the scene.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

USA

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1946 (until 1948)

ENGINE:

3.9 l (239 cid) Flathead V8

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed was around 85 mph

(138 km/h)

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Although production of the Sportsman did not begin properly until 1946, the very first car off the line was delivered (with the loudest fanfare Ford could muster) to Hollywood Star Ella Raines on Christmas Day in 1945.

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