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1946 Ford Oakland Police Car

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SAN FRANCISCO:  When peace finally broke out at the end of WWII it was time for the auto manufactures to re-tool from the swords of military production to the plowshares of personal transportation. Ford, like most of the other car builders at the time, dusted off the existing 1942 tooling, went to work on simple trim and grill facelifts and started spitting out as many "new" 1946 models as possible. With no new cars for over four years, the public was snapping up anything that was available. Government agency's were also limping along on well worn vehicles and, at times, were able to get priority over the public.

This 1946 Ford Super Deluxe Tudor sedan was purchased by the Oakland Police Department. While city governments usually buy lower priced "fleet" models, Oakland was forced into the Super Deluxe because Ford saw no need to build the pre-war, entry level Special model and regular Deluxe sedans were in short supply. The only option on the car was a set of factory "heavy duty" 15 inch wheels ( Fords came equipped with taller 16" units). Upon delivery, the sedan was fitted with an Edison two-way radio, (..Calling all cars . . .calling all cars . .) a pair of Unity spotlights, some white door panels and a star on the door. It's funny to think that in such a short time we've come from stock Ford Tudors with broadcloth upholstery to today's screened-in rolling mini-jails.

On patrol in the 1946 Ford Squad Car

This drive report car is owned by Skip Silva of San Leandro, CA. Skip had seen the car for years languishing away in the garage of a neighbor. The neighbor had bought the car at a Oakland city auction in 1950. The Tudor had just 63,000 miles on it. It was driven home, parked in the garage and just sat there. By the '70s the engine had frozen but the neighbor still refused to sell. Finally, in 1978, the owner, in the midst of a divorce, had to sell the car and called Skip.

Silva pulled the heads, hammered on each piston 'till it came loose, buttoned it all back together and drove it off. After a while it started smoking pretty bad so the heads and pan were removed and new rings and rod bearings were installed. The Tudor now has over 68,000 miles on the odometer and runs great. Skip has done a few other modifications as well. He works for the City of San Leandro and had access to a set of modern 15 inch police pursuit radials - some "take offs" from a wrecked modern patrol car. They fit nicely on the Ford's optional wheels. Two inch longer front shackles lower the front a bit. The "Baby Moon" hubcaps are temporary until a nice set of originals can be obtained.

The Classic Drive

Slide behind the wheel with me and we'll take this old Ford out for a ride. The car feels big, but not too big or overstuffed, and tall, with lots of headroom. All of the controls are easy to get to and the steering wheel is at a tolerable angle. The car starts smoothly and settles down to that lovely flathead burble . . burble . . burble.

The shifter works well as it slides into first - give it a little RPM and we're off. Smooth and powerful are the words that come to mind as we run it through the gears. I had never driven an original stock powered post-war Ford sedan before and was really surprised at the performance for a car of that era. I'll bet that only a few luxury cars with big engines and tall gearing could run away from it. It leaves stock Chevys and Plymouths from that era in the dust!

The handling is also very good. Usually, in my experience, radial tires make older cars feel mushy and squirmy. In this application, the tires somehow canceled the straight axle Ford's tendency to follow imperfections in the road and "hunt" from side to side. This car rode smoothly and required much less correction at the helm. A run over to an industrial area allowed me to test the siren. It wound up slowly, just like in the movies, and took at least three minutes to wind down. Great stuff!

Skip Silva is still working on this baby. The Oakland library has used it in promotions and the police department is trying to locate the correct period star for the door. Skip's '46 is always a big hit at car shows, cruise nights and parades.By Rick Feibusch AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Byline:  By Rick Feibusch AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name:   "The Classic Drive"
Topic:  1946 Ford Oakland Police Car
Word Count:   751
Photo Caption:  1946 Ford Oakland Police Car
Photo Credits:  Rick Feibusch
Series #:   1999 - 59

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