Car of the Week: 1934 Ford Sedan Delivery

By Brian Earnest

Cross-over vehicles have certainly been all the rage on the new car front in recent years. Every domestic car maker has been working overtime to come out with vehicles that seem to blur the lines between sedan, station wagon, SUV and truck. The “tweener” certainly seems like the car of the future.

But a look back through history shows that crossover vehicles that melded the best traits of cars and trucks and SUVs are certainly nothing new. Even back before World War II, Ford was offering such amalgamations it called “sedan deliveries.” The moniker is sometimes confused with the more popular “panel deliveries” of the period, but there was a major difference between the two: The sedan deliveries were basically sedans from the doors forward, while the panel deliveries were trucks all the way through.

The sedan deliveries were basically sedans converted into delivery cars. They featured Tudor bodies with blanked-out rear windows and a 36-inch-wide x 34-inch-high rear door. The spare tire was carried in a front fender well.

The sedan deliveries were available in both four-cylinder and flathead V-8 versions, and a total of 9,021 were built for the 1934 model year. It’s anybody’s guess how many are left, but they seem to be about as common these days as wolly mammoths. And it’s a fair bet you’ll never see a 1934 sedan delivery nicer than the near-perfect rig owned by Darrell and Lela Sago, of  Festus, Mo.

The Sagos’ sedan delivery might not necessarily be a car that turns heads when it makes a rare appearance at a show. Its authentic, but subdued, black-and-brown color scheme and panel car stying make it a car that’s easy to overlook. But for those who appreciate a finely restored vehicle, and a rare vehicle at that, this squeaky clean ’34 Ford is a true treasure.

“There really aren’t many of them around,” Darrell Sago said. “I know of about six of them around the country. “This one’s a national show winner. It’s been gone over pretty good. It’s pretty amazing, really.”

Sago owns a 1940 Ford and says he’s had “10 or 12” old Ford pickups over the years, but he took on a new challenge about seven years ago when he bought the panel delivery from man in California. The car was not finished, but a lot of the heavy lifting had already been done in its restoration by the time he purchased it.

According to the Sagos, the car was brought back to showroom condition by noted restorer Don Thelan before they bought it. The restored sheet metal is in like-new condition. The interior has been upgraded with a Deluxe dash, cigar lighter, visors and wood grain on the dash and window moldings. Upholstery is all vinyl, and was done by a former member of Boyd Coddington’s shop. The wood in the cargo area floor was re-done by Doug Car of The Wood N Car in Signal Hill, Calif.

“I had to re-do the fenders on it," Darrell said. "Now, it is straight as an arrow, I’ll tell you. There’s no putty or anything on it. Not a wrinkle on it. It’s 100 percent, and underneath it’s a shiny as it is on top. It’s so shiny underneath that it looks like its powdercoated.”

The Model 46 V-8 sedan deliveries had only mild revisions to distinguish them from previous years. The grille was changed slightly and had fewer vertical bars. The Ford script in a blue oval with a V-8 logo under it was located on the side of the hood. The engine received a new fuel induction system with counter-balanced cast alloy steel crankshafts, open skirt pistons, waterline thermostats, improved fuel pump and unitized valve assemblies. The cargo area was 59 inches long and 45 ¾ inches wide with insulating board side panels. There was a single bucket seat, one sun visor and a three-speed floor shifted manual transmission. Deluxe models had pinstriping, cowl lights, twin horns and two tail lamps.

Everything is present and accounted for on the Sagos’ Ford – and in perfect working order.

“We had to re-do the engine — actually, I had to do it twice, because it wasn’t done right the first time … I’ve had to change probably 99 percent of all nuts and screws and screws on it.  It’s got new tires on it, new battery … I did a lot of work on it, really.”

“The running gear underneath it, transmission and rear, that’s the same as on the car … It’s small, it’s not very big. I’ve run into a lot of problems with it, but I think I’ve fixed everything.”

That work has been noticed in recent years at two noteworthy shows. In 2005, the car received 954 points of a possible 1,000 at a show in Keystone, Col. “It had 46 points deducted, and 20 of those were for hydraulic brakes, which are for safety,” Sago said. “Then it won the Dearborn Award in 2008,” when it received a score of 967, including another 20-point deduction for the brakes.

But the beautiful Ford’s appearances in public are few and far between these days, as are its trips out of the Sagos’ driveway. “It’s so nice, I just don’t want to drive the dang thing," Darrell said.

It might be a bit of an unlikely show pony, given that it was born to be a working vehicle, but the Sagos’ ’34 sedan delivery is rare, meticulously restored, and pretty darn cool.

And it’s this week’s Old Cars WeeklyCar of the Week.

ENGINES:
L-head four: Bore & stroke: 3 7/8 x 4 ¼. Displacement: 200.5 cid. Compression ration: 4.60:1. HP: 50 at 2800 rpm. Carburetor: Zenith single-barrel updraft.

L-head V-8: Bore & stroke: 3 1/16 x 3 ¾: Displacement: 221 cid. Compression ratio: 6.33:1. HP: 85 at 3800 rpm. Carburetor: Detroit Lubricator or Stromberg two-barrel downdraft.

CHASSIS:
Wheelbase: 112 inches. Length: 176 inches. Tires: 5.50 x 17.

OPTIONS:

Low-compression cylinder head. Dual windshield wipers. Spare tire. Outside rearview mirror. Special paint.

PRODUCTION:
Four-cylinder
Model No.    Body & Seating    MSRP        Weight         Production total

68                  Sedan Delivery      $335            1,688 lbs.     Note 1

V-8
Model No.    Body & Seating    MSRP        Weight          Production total

68                  Sedan Delivery      $360            1,798 lbs.      Note 1

Note 1: Combined production of four-cylinder and V-8 sedan deliveries was 9,021.

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