Never too young for a ’34 Ford

Peter Winnewisser |



The 1934 Ford Cabriolet — this one owned by Jason Tagliaferri
of Gloversville, N.Y. —  is, arguably, the best looking of the 1934
V-8 passenger cars.

The 1934 Fords celebrate their 75th anniversary this year. According to the Ford Motor Co. World Production Report, 563,921 Ford passenger cars rolled off the assembly lines that year. Thousands of them are still in the hands of collectors today, but few are as authentic, even to the original paint in showroom condition, as the 1934 Cabriolet (model 40, type 760) owned by 33-year-old Jason Tagliaferri of Gloversville, N.Y.

 Tagliaferri is both a perceptive and patient young man. Perceptive, because he can appreciate the charisma and historical significance of an authentic and original Ford, even though he is, at heart, a street rod man with a particular love for the Deuce and his 1950 Mercury. Patient, because he spent 10 years of watchful waiting before he was able to make the Cabriolet his own. Here’s the story.

 The car was assembled in early May of 1934, one of 14,496 produced that year. The factory price was $590. It was sold by Maylender-Hughes dealership in Gloversville, N.Y., to the first owner in late 1934 and then sold two or three months later, in early 1935, to Henry Born Sr. Born drove the car to church and work. He washed and waxed it every Sunday after church. According to the service records, the car was rarely driven in the winter months. In the early 1940s it was stored in a garage with about 72,000 miles on the odometer.

 The Cabriolet rested in the garage until the mid ’80s, when Henry Born Jr., who inherited the car after his father’s passing, took it out of storage, rebuilt the engine and brakes and installed a new convertible top and five new tires. He then drove the car sparingly, putting about 2,400 miles on it over 20-plus years.

 Tagliaferri and Born met because they stored their cars in the same building. They became friends, kept in touch over a 10-year period during which Tagliaferri, who greatly admired the ’34, from time to time expressed his interest in buying the car. In October 2007, that hope became a reality.

 Since buying the Ford, Tagliaferri has driven it more than 2,000 miles. “I enjoy it very much, it is a piece of history,” he said. Last fall, he entered it in the Historic Preservation of Original Features category at the AACA meet in Hershey and won an award. He has the license plates that were on the car when it was sold by the dealer, numerous service records of work done on the car in the early years, the original owner’s manual and the installation instructions for the aftermarket Philco radio in the car. In the future, he hopes to replace the new top with the original one, which was taken off only because of a leak. He also has the original boot for the top.

 One of the prime features of the car that immediately captures attention is the mostly original Vineyard Green body and wheel color. The paint condition is spectacular. Possibly, the frequent waxing in the early years helped to preserve it. Except for some paint work on the left front fender in the late 1930s or early ’40s due to a minor accident, and the paint on the spare tire cover, the paint on the car is as it came from the factory. The striping, including the stripes on the hood louvers, is also from the factory.

 The upholstery is the original leather and leatherette installed at the factory in both the interior and the rumble seat. The floor mats are also original and in decent condition. The dash has been repainted. The chrome is original. The car currently rides on whitewall tires, but they will eventually be switched to blackwalls. The V-8 powerplant was installed at the factory. It does have 1936 water pumps and the incorrect fuel pump. These will be returned to the factory-installed units, which are in the owner’s possession.

 Typical of the DeLuxe cars, the Cabriolet has dual horns, cowl lamps, tail lamps, and a chrome-plated windshield frame. The interior has an adjustable seat, cigar lighter, ash tray and glove box. The operating handle for the rumble seat is located behind the passenger side of the front seat. In addition to the radio, accessories include the metal spare tire cover, spare tire lock, bumper guards and the original greyhound grille ornament.

 Tagliaferri operates Tag’s Upholstery in Gloversville, N.Y., specializing in custom auto, home and boat upholstery. He has restored several cars, including a 1966 Mustang with custom upholstery for his mother. He also helped his father restore a 1957 Ford retractable, which has won several national awards, including Junior and Senior Awards at AACA meets. About ten years ago, he built a 1932 Ford three-window coupe from scratch for his brother. Currently, he is working on a 1932 Ford five-window coupe for himself. It will have a stock-looking body, a 302 Ford engine, automatic overdrive and four-wheel independent suspension.

 Tagliaferri’s first love, however, is his 1950 Mercury, which he has owned since he was 14. “I learned how to weld as I chopped the top on the car when I was 16,” he says. “It is now a full custom. I decided a long time ago that I would never sell the Merc, because I’ve talked to a lot of guys my dad’s age or older and they all say the same thing: ‘I wish I still had my first car, I never should have sold it.’ The Merc is my first car, and I hope I will be able to continue to say that I own it for a long time.”
 So there you have the story. A young man who is especially fond of his custom Merc and ’32 Ford street rod. He is just 33 years old, with a world of old car experience. He specializes in upholstery work and also has an appreciation for the historical charm of his pristine ’34 Ford Cabriolet. It’s not just the older generation that has a love for vintage iron.

Note: The author is indebted to the following for background information: Standard Catalog of Ford, 4th edition by John Gunnell; The Early Ford V-8 by Edward Francis and George DeAngelis; The V-8 Affair by Ray Miller; the Ford Motor Company World Production Report, 1903-1955.
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Tagliaferri’s unrestored car has dual horns, dual cowl lights, dual bumper guards and the V-8 emblem. (Peter Winnewisser photo)

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