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Lot 156

1939 Ford Standard Station Wagon

  • Chassis no. 185186741

Sold for $198,000

Model 91A. 85 bhp, 221 cu. in. Flathead V8 engine, three-speed manual transmission with Columbia rear end, solid front axle and live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 112"

Of all the accessories available for the Ford V8, one of the best-known, yet perhaps least understood, is the Columbia rear axle. The Columbia Axle Company was part of Errett Lobban Cord’s vast automotive empire. Not surprisingly, Auburn used Columbia axles on six- and eight-cylinder cars through 1936. In search of a volume market, in 1934 Columbia brought out a model that was a bolt-in accessory for the Ford V8. From 1936, there was also one for the Lincoln-Zephyr, which became so popular that it was a factory option, but the Ford unit was apparently always an aftermarket fit.

It was pretty simple: a two-speed planetary gearset was incorporated into the differential ring gear. The Columbia kit included a modified right-hand section of the differential housing, including the gearset and actuator mechanism. The stock left-hand housing and center “banjo” section were retained. Initially the overdrive was vacuum-operated. The driver turned a switch (or, later, pulled a knob), then disengaged the clutch. Shifting of the axle was signified by a clunk from the rear, after which the clutch was re-engaged, resulting in a 28 percent “taller” gear ratio. There was an auxiliary gearbox on the speedometer drive that shifted with the axle, to keep the indicated speed correct.

After World War II, the engagement was made electric, controlled by an unobtrusive toggle switch on the dashboard. From 1949, though, Ford began offering the Borg-Warner automatic overdrive as a factory option, and production of the Columbia unit ceased.

In order to handle heavy loads in any type of terrain, Ford station wagon axles ratios were fairly low: 4.11 to 1 in the 1930s, 3.53 or 3.78 to 1 after World War II. The Columbia allows a much wider range of ratios, particularly for driving on today’s highways in today’s traffic, the main reason most of Nick Alexander’s cars have been so equipped.

This 1939 Standard station wagon comes fresh from a thorough high-quality restoration. A solid Alabama car to start with, it has been completely refinished, the original Maple wood showing its beautiful grain beneath 10 coats of marine varnish. The metal body has excellent contours, and the new black paint has a deep shine. The brightwork is excellent throughout, and the glass is all new script black-edged material. The top is new black artificial leather.

The seats have been reupholstered in dark brown artificial leather, and the floors have new black rubber mats. The dashboard is restored walnut woodgrain, and all details of instruments and hardware have been attended to.

The engine and chassis have been thoroughly reconditioned and refinished. Like all Alexander collection cars, it runs and drives well, and has the Columbia rear axle for maximum flexibility and comfort. The odometer currently shows slightly more than ten miles.

Purchased in July 2007 and recently out of restoration, this car has no show history. A new owner will have the opportunity to take it on the debutant circuit. It is registered with California year-of-manufacture plates 7J797, which go with the car. Ford built just 2,203 Standard station wagons with full glass in 1939. This is a rare chance to acquire a virtually new example.


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Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

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

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Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

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

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more