Honk if you know nothing about cars

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 2, 2002

What is it with men and cars?

Or, to be more exact, what is it with men and vintage cars?

On the front page of our Thursday, July 25, newspaper we printedphotos of Eunice Hart being given a ride in a vintage Ford on her103rd birthday. Dave Peavey is the car owner who served aschauffeur.

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Mr. Peavey’s car is a 1940 Ford Deluxe. Well, somewhere alongthe way, 1940 Ford got translated to 1944 Ford, which appeared inthe photo caption.

That’s when the phone started ringing.

“That’s not a 1944 Ford.”

Pardon me for asking, sir, but how do you know?

“Because I’ve seen one. I know.”

Thank you for calling.

It didn’t take much to convince me, since my knowledge of carsis limited at best. All I require in a vehicle are four good tires,automatic transmission, air conditioning and an oil change every3,000 miles. If the engine starts when I turn the key, I don’t needto know what’s going on under the hood. It’s greasy underthere.

But, the calls — and the information — kept coming. All ofthose in the know about 1940 Fords were male.

This e-mail arrived:

” . . . Although I don’t want to get into an argument about it(especially with an owner), the picture of the 1944 (?) Ford on thefront of Thursday’s paper looks like a ‘1940’ Ford Deluxe to me,the last of the Ford pre-war classics. The two little side grillsgive it away. I owned a 1940 Standard, which did not have the extraside grills. The picture doesn’t even look like a 1941 Deluxe as Iremember them.

“I can’t seem to find anything on Ford production during1941-1945, but I think Ford and a lot of the others had ceasedcivilian production by the middle of 1942 and were producing onlywar stuff. Ford and Willys were producing Jeeps. If I remembercorrectly, a few 1942 Fords showed up but almost identical to the1941 models except there was no chrome at all, even the bumperswere painted.

“Then in 1946, they restarted the production lines using the’1942′ models (still no chrome), and didn’t really get civilianautos back into full production until the 1947 models.

“Perhaps there were some units either left over or turned outduring the war years for the military, I don’t know. But all the’staff’ cars I remember seeing during WWII were either 1941civilian models or 1942 ‘chromeless’ models.”

Whew . . .

All that got me to thinking that I must have missedsomething by not being around in 1940. Let’s see . . .

Eunice Hart celebrated her 41st birthday that year.

My mother was a junior in high school.

Cars cost about $800. (I am told that a 1940 Ford Deluxegoes for five figures these days.) Gas was 18 cents agallon.

Bread was 8 cents a loaf; milk was 34 cents agallon.

It cost 3 cents to mail a letter.

The average salary was $1,900 a year; the minimum wage was30 cents an hour.

The Andrews Sisters were singing “Beat Me Daddy, Eight tothe Bar” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.”

Henry Fonda starred in “The Grapes of Wrath.”

But wait . . .

Did the 1940 Ford Deluxe actually come out in 1939?

I’ll let you know what the experts say.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send e-mail to news@dailyleader.com.