Wood was good for 1940s Sportsmans

As post-World War II domestic automobile production resumed, the relationship between wood body work and station wagons was a secure one, with only a sprinkling of all-steel examples being built.

3997c.jpgInstead of shrinking, as it would rapidly in the 1950s, wood exterior construction was being expanded into other body styles. Examples include the 1946-’47 Ford Super Deluxe Sportsman convertible, 1946 Mercury Sportsman convertible, 1947-’48 Chrysler Town and Country four-door sedan and convertible and 1947-’48 Nash Suburban four-door sedan.

Only the Town and Country would translate wood to the all-new postwar non-wagon models, but it, too, would perish after the 1950 two-door hardtops (which succeeded the 1949 convertibles) were built.

3997b.jpgWhile Chrysler Town and Country prototypes were shown in 1946, Ford already had its Sportsman convertible bodies in production. They were built alongside those of the station wagons at Ford’s production plant at Iron Mountain, Mich.

At first, there were both Ford and Mercury Sportsman models, which was not all that difficult, as both shared the same basic body and chassis design.

Mercury bailed out early, as production was stopped during the 1946 build 3997d.jpgwith only 200 being made. Ford turned out 723 examples and bettered it with 2,274 1947 models.

Sportsman was again cataloged for the short 1948 run, but the 28 reported sold were likely retitled 1947 models. Considering the Sportsman was the highest-priced Ford available those years, sales potential was limited. For 1946, the Ford Sportsman listed at $1,982, compared to $1,488 for the Super Deluxe convertible.

There was more than wood over a steel structure that made the Sportsman models different from the rest of the line. Rear fenders and taillamps from the 1941 Fords were used, despite the appearance of 1946 rear fenders in 3997e.jpgthe renderings that preceded production. Hydraulic power windows were standard, a first for a production Ford. The interior was done in leather with a choice of three colors.

Despite the less-than-enthusiastic reception from the new car buying public, the two Sportsman models have become some of the most valuable Ford- and Mercury-branded production cars of all time. Current No. 1 condition values are well past $100,000 and, given the auction frenzy of today, could go into the stratosphere alongside some of the rare muscle cars.

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