MARTINSVILLE — I found Roger Stiles and his old Ford on the Morgan County Square this past Thursday, returning after a trip there last month when I first saw the car.
Stiles still hasn’t washed or waxed the 1935 five-window coupe like he said he would. His 1969 Harley Davidson has needed some work, and he’s been having trouble with his back.
“I’ll be getting to it,” the 66-year-old Martinsville man said.
The car is a 48 Model standard. It was included in a recent two-part My Favorite Ride series where readers were challenged to identify six cars by headlights alone. Stiles’ Ford was my favorite.
Part I:Identify these cars by their headlights and maybe you’ll win a prize
Part II:Alex Tanford knows a lot about the law. And headlights.
The windshield unlatches and tilts forward to create an interior breeze on sultry summer days. The rear window actually rolls down, so back-seat passengers can talk to riders in the rumble seat, a standard feature during this automobile production era.
Stiles bought the car five years ago after half a century of longing.
“I’ve wanted a 1935 Ford since I was 10 years old,” he said. “I’ve always loved the body style. Back then, you could get one for $500.”
Fifty years later, Stiles saw an ad listing this car for sale. He drove to the owner’s home near Plainfield. “I looked at it on July 3rd and decided the next day I would buy it. But that was the Fourth of July, and the banks were closed. I went and got it on July 5th.”
The 87-year-old car, which was refurbished in the 1980s, is pretty much all original. There’s some peeling paint on the hood, I call that patina, and a few dents and scrapes Stiles himself has inflicted.
“Don’t take pictures of that side. Go around to the side that’s not scratched,” he said as I zoomed in on a rear fender.
He dented the metal spare tire cover when he backed into a trailer hitch, and caused a few deep scratches on the passenger side rear fender when he sideswiped a brick wall while backing the car up.
He said the historic Ford runs great. He’s not done much work to it, just balanced the tires and fine tuned a transmission that was leaking fluid.
He drives the car around Martinsville, and it’s been to Brown County. He’s planning longer road trips once he replaces a copper O-ring in the fuel tank so it will hold more gasoline.
“I’m 66 years old. I don’t want to spend a lot of time fixing the car up. I just want to drive and enjoy it.”
The Model 48 was introduced in 1935 to replace Ford’s Model 40A, the company’s best-selling car at the time. The car was beautiful, affordable and practical, and Ford sold 820,000 of them that first year.
If you want to see this car in person, look for it and Stiles in downtown Martinsville most Thursday evenings starting at 5 pm, when an eclectic mix of vehicles descends on the courthouse square.
Have a story to tell about a car or truck? Contact reporter Laura Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org, 812-331-4362 or 812-318-5967.