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
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