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Hooniverse Maximum Convertible Showdown: A 1936 Ford Phaeton vs A 1935 Studebaker Dictator Phaeton

Jim Brennan October 9, 2010 For Sale, Nostalgia, Showdown 16 Comments

Welcome to another Maximum Convertible Weekend Showdown posting. I should correct this one as these two contestants are actually “Phaetons”. By the mid 1930’s this particular body style was falling out of favor because of the lack of weatherproofing. However, these four door, open top models were rather rakish and stylish in their day, and are a very hot collectible today. So which one opens your heart?

This is a 1936 Ford Touring Phaeton, and is a beautiful restoration. According to the listing:

This is a beautifully restored All Steel stock V8 Ford! Nice Black Lacquer exterior with an Apple Green pinstripe, Spider caps and white wall tires, Super smooth running Flathead V8 with a nice, quiet, easy shifting 3 speed manual transmission, Tan Canvas top in very nice condition with side curtains, This is a wonderful car to drive, show and enjoy!

Everything about this car is top flight, with an asking price that is $55,000. See the entire listing here!

If you think the Ford was rare and pricey, meet the only Studebaker Dictator Phaeton in North America. According to the listing:

1935 Emphasized More Improved Engineering and Technology than Styling Changes. The Planar Independent Front Suspension was Introduced on the Dictator Series 2A to Provide a “Miracle Ride”. Vacuum Hydraulic Brakes, Over-Drive Free-Wheeling, Radio Speaker Provision in the Headliner Above the Front Windscreen, and the “Hill Holder” Which Locked the Brakes When the Driver Depressed the Clutch Were All New That Year.

This Studebaker Dictator Series 2A was Shipped as a Bare Chassis to Australia Where it was Fitted with a Right Hand Drive, Phaeton Body with Side Curtains. Studebaker Commonly Sent Their Cars to Australia as a Bare Chassis to Reduce Overall Shipping Weight and Space and Also Served as a Practical Means to Avoid Possible Damage to the Body in Transit. The Phaeton Body was Never Built on North American Shores and Very Few (If Any) Would Have Been Imported to the United States Making This Automobile More Than Likely the Only One of It’s Kind in North America. When This Car was Shipped to the United States it Was Converted to a Left Hand Drive and Was Restored to Excellent Condition Inside and Out. The Burgundy Exterior and the Tan Leather Interior Shows Nicely.

This car has the 88 HP straight six, with a three speed transmission. The asking price for this rare Studebaker is $149,900! See the entire listing here!

Which Phantastic Phaeton would you Phancy?

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Image Sources: ’36 Ford; Memory Lane Motors – ’35 Studebaker; Vintage Motors of Sarasota

  • Ryans92L

    The dash work on that Studebaker is AWESOME!

  • tonyola

    As cool as phaetons are, they are probably the most impractical body style to actually own. This is especially true in a climate given to frequent and random showers like here in Florida. Imagine the great fun of struggling with a big heavy stack of side curtains as a quick-popping thunderstorm bears down on you.

    The Ford is priced fairly, if a little on the high side. It has the advantage of popularity in classic circles, very strong club support, and easy availability of parts. While the Studebaker phaeton may be all but unique in the US, there are problems: 1) this is a bottom-line Dictator, not the more upscale Commander or President; and, 2) there's not a whole lot of collector interest in 1930s Studebakers. I don't see this as a $150,000 car. You can get a number of genuine CCCA-listed Classics in this price range. The '35 Stude isn't one of them. It's also not quite as pretty as the 1931-1933 cars. The Studebaker is very special but at a ripoff price. The Ford gets my vote.

    • dmilligan

      Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly is a phaeton automobile? Is it just a 4 door convertible? I checked the Great Gazoogle and got a zillion hits on VWs and doorless carriages.

      • tonyola

        From my post yesterday:

        "In automotive parlance, a phaeton was basically a large open touring car (usually four doors) with at least two rows of seats. A phaeton typically had side curtains instead of rollup windows, although the name is sometimes used for the convertible sedans with winding windows that came along around 1930 or so."

        Both of these featured cars are phaetons in the stricter sense. A 1960s Lincoln four-door convertible is a convertible sedan, though some might call it a phaeton.

        • dmilligan

          Thank you. I somehow missed the post from yesterday.

  • dmilligan

    I really like the looks of the Stude. The woodwork on the dash looks very nice, at least in the photos. But it's way too spendy for a car that you'd like to take for weekend drives (as long as it's not raining). If it was mine, I'd be torn trying to decide on a nickname for it; should I call it Dick or Mr. Tater?

  • Mad_Hungarian

    Studebaker FTW. Number one, what's not to like about a car called the Dictator. Two, unlike the Ford, it's got real brakes and independent front suspension. Three, the Hill Holder (why doesn't every car have one?). Four, it's called a Dictator. Five, suicide front doors. Six, gorgeous color scheme. Seven, did I mention that a car called the Dictator has got to be great?

  • While the hood ornament on the Blue Oval is sweet, the raked grill, the previously mentioned dashboard and suicide doors lead me over to the Studebaket side of this election. Plus the hood ornament on it is pretty cool also.

    Excellent series Jim.

    • Mr_Biggles

      Funny. I would almost have gone Ford as well, simply for the hood ornament. But instead, how can I possibly pass up something called "Dictator? And the dash really is pretty.

  • I just love a phaeton. Everything from the roofline to the lack of windows to the way the running boards run the length of the automobile is just plain classy. I love the spare tire mounted on the back, and sometimes there's a real wooden trunk there, too (hey, maybe that's why we still call the rear storage compartment that, go figure). These are styling cues from the prewar era that still touched a nerve in the postwar twentieth century. Think of continental kits on fifties cars, the way a spare tire still looks good on the back of an SUV, landau roofs, even the despised Cadillac Sevilles of the eighties. Admit it, you could see yourself riding on that running board, decked out in a pinstriped three piece suit and fedora, blasting away with a Thompson submachine gun after robbing a bank during the thirties. Hell, it's even fun to read or spell "phaeton." You could also call them "touring cars," but I'll go with phaeton. It's an extinct breed, but they were pure class in their day.

  • scroggzilla

    I don't always drive a phaeton….but when I do, I drive a Dictator
    <img src="http://sitemaker.umich.edu/fascistpersonalitycult/files/franco4.jpg"&gt;

  • JoeDunlap

    If these are Phaetons, then what of the Volkswagen??


  • I see this everyday. I am just guessing but I will be willing to bet this is a much older diverter, and you got the last set of stems for it from a hardware store rather than a plumbers supply store. Some of the newer stem bodies have a slightly different OD Outer Diameter than the older ones did and will tend to freeze in the diverter body especially if you did not fully grease them with plumbers valve grease. You most likely will not be able to get the stems out do to so much mineral build up from the water so you will have to replace the valve. This can be a difficult process for even a veteran plumber. This is why I would recommend having a reputable plumber do this for you. The labor alone may cost between $400.00 to $500.00 so make sure the plumbing company you chose has been around at least 5 years and give no less than a 6 Mons guarantee. I always recommend Roto-Rooter, They are a nation wide company and stand behind the work they do, You can find them on Angie’s List.

    • Thom

      dafuq did I just read?

  • Ben

    My family has the Studebaker in their shed. Complete but partially disassembled. It hasn't run in about 50 years.

  • hismiths

    I went for the Ford, no matter how much I drooled on my iPad over the Studebaker. Why, the price while not actually possible, is convievable, and I could keep that Ford running forever just with what I know now.