Bob Van Horn's 1936 Ford Phaeton
(from Volume 13, Issue 148)

Bob Van Horn of Merritt Island, Florida informed us that he has probably had 70 or 80 old Fords since he was in high school. They have ranged in years from 1928 to 1954, but mainly he’s been partial to 32’s and 40’s. Owning a body shop in Merritt Island, Florida for 30 years has been a big advantage, as they’ve done a lot of work on special interest cars over the years.

Along the way Bob’s had a couple of ‘36 Ford Roadsters, and always liked the look of them, so when he found the 1936 Ford Phaeton at the Goodguys show in Indy back in ‘99 he thought it would make a different and fun ride. After all, it’s really a 4-Door Roadster....and more rare! They worked on the car off and on over the next 3 years, transforming it into what you see pictured here.

Bob’s son, Richard, narrowed a ‘40 Lincoln Zephyr dash and modified it to fit the ‘36 Ford cowl. He also installed the Bitchin’ floor, and modified the firewall to clear the distributor. They sent the gauge cluster to Encore Speedometer in California for modernizing, and a restored ‘47 Lincoln steering wheel now sits on a ‘47 Ford column. The front seat back was fabricated with 1-inch box tubing and 20 gauge sheet metal, to actually tie into the body and add strength. Wood graining was done by “Faux Bob” in Sanford, Florida, and the two-tone leather upholstery adds a luxurious retro feel for passengers.

The body rests on an Atlanta Street Rods chassis, which included a 9-inch Ford rear end, coil overs, tubular A arms, rack and pinion steering, and power brakes. A 350 Chevy engine and Turbo 350 automatic provide the power, and Bob told us the whole combination rides and drives exceptionally well.

The exterior was painted a single stage ‘96 Volvo yellow, and the front and rear bumper brackets were modified to accept ‘39 Buick bumpers. The lift-off top was custom fabricated by Ken Caskey of Kidd Darrin’s in Melbourne, and is all aluminum framed so it weighs only 75 pounds to aid in removal. A set of red steel rims with ‘54 Chrysler hubcaps and Diamondback wide whitewall radials add to the 50’s look, and round out a very tasteful package.

Since its completion Bob drove the car to the L.A. Roadster show in 2004, and to all the rod shops around Los Angeles....which was a lot of fun! Although Bob’s friends and grandsons enjoy riding in the car, he told us it is time to sell the ‘36 Phaeton to make way for other projects. I guess you don’t wind up owning 70 or 80 cool old Fords by hanging on to any particular one for years and years.....but you can bet that Bob’s next car will be just as cool, and he’ll be having just as much fun driving it around to all the shows! CN