The Dingman Collection 2012

9 - 10 June 2012

Lot 818

1940 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon

To be auctioned on Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sold for $203,500

  • Chassis no. 99A-211735


MODEL 01A. 239 cu. in. L-head V-8 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 112"

Through 1939, Ford’s station wagon bodies were assembled by Murray Corporation of America, from wood grown in Henry Ford’s northern Michigan forests. That year, however, relations between Ford Motor Company and Murray soured. This led Ford to consider in-house production of the station wagons. Discussions with the management of the Iron Mountain operation, then providing the wood parts to Murray for assembly, resulted in a proposal for all body assembly to be done in the northern Michigan locale and that bodies be sent to assembly plants fully finished and trimmed. The change took place at the beginning of the 1940 model year.

The bodies took on a much different appearance. The roofline was subtly altered, becoming more rounded at the windshield header. Panel spacing was changed, such that the lower panel became narrower, and the rear quarter panels were consolidated into one piece. The rear doors, formerly hinged at the back, “suicide” style, now swung toward the front. The spare tire, housed inside in 1938 and ’39, on the back of the driver’s seat, was returned to the tailgate, where it had been located from 1935 to 1937. Deluxe wagons were given the option of maple or birch framing, while Standards came in maple only. Darker-colored gumwood began to be used for panels, in addition to birch, in both series. The choice of material was random. Bodies were given three coats of varnish, hand-sanded between each application.

Deluxe woodies also got an adjustable front seat, the same assembly used in the convertible. Seats for the Deluxe had the cushions faced in genuine brown Spanish grain leather. Dearborn management was pleased. Quality increased over that of the bodies built by Murray, at a lower unit cost.

Three engines were available: the popular 221 cubic inch 85 hp V-8, the small 136 cubic inch 60 hp V-8 (installed in just two Standard wagons), and the larger 239 cubic inch 95 hp V-8 from the new Mercury, which was fitted to 354 Deluxe station wagons.

This 1940 Deluxe station wagon is one of those built with the 95 bhp Mercury engine. It was found in a San Francisco boatyard in 2007 and required restoration. In exploring options for the body, it was decided to pursue one of the rarer and occasional features found on Ford woodies: birdseye maple.

“Birdseye” refers to its grain pattern, resembling a sea of tiny, swirling “eyes” that disrupt the normal straight lines of grain. It is not a species of tree but rather a condition that arises from complex causes. Birdseye grain is known to occur in ash, mahogany, beech, walnut, and birch, but by far, the most common birdseye is found in Acer saccharum, the sugar maple. Experience has shown that the greatest concentration of birdseye trees lies in the forests of the Great Lakes region of Canada and Michigan: the location of Iron Mountain. Birdseye maple has a medium density and variable color. The wood works well on a lathe or shaper but is hard enough that it does not scratch easily. Thus, it is highly prized for making fine furniture or alternatively, automobile bodies or trim.

The prevalence of birdseye grain in northern Michigan led to its use in Ford station wagons. Usually this took the form of random birdseye pieces incorporated into bodies, as and when the craftsmen came across them. Occasionally, however, a station wagon body would be framed mostly or even entirely from birdseye maple. A long-standing tradition holds that Henry Ford ordered the retention of a small inventory of birdseye wagon parts. From time to time, it is said, he would order a “birdseye wagon” to be constructed, either for a special customer or for presentation on a particular occasion.

While the restoration of this car was entrusted to Jim Lowrey’s restoration shop in Tilton, New Hampshire, the wood work was performed by Mike Nickels in Traverse City, Michigan. Ford-built birdseye wagons varied in their use of the treasured wood, perhaps depending on the client involved. For the Dingman birdseye car, Nickels pulled out all the stops, as nearly all framing members are so endowed. The use of maroon paint for the steel panels is particularly appropriate, as it provides the perfect backdrop for the pattern of the wood. It exhibits a deep shine, nicely complemented by the correct brown grained artificial leather on the roof. The seats are upholstered in original-pattern brown leather, set off by the exquisite maroon and gold instrument panel of the 1940 Ford Deluxe models. The engine compartment is clean and correctly detailed, with the engine painted Mercury Blue.

As a final flourish, the car is equipped with wheel trim rings and runs on double-whitewall Ford script tires. All told, the restoration costs amounted to approximately $280,000, the superiority of which is readily apparent. Having been hardly driven since restoration but professionally maintained, the car appears precisely the way it would have in someone’s garage the day after it was bought in 1940, or perhaps gifted personally by Henry Ford himself to a VIP client!

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more