We’ve often heard tales about Argentina and rare Ford stuff. A few years ago, there were all kinds of rumors floating around about a warehouse that was discovered housing crates of NOS Ardun heads.
Before that, it was a rumored 1,000’s of replacement flathead blocks were located in a similar fashion. And then, of course, there were all of the weird foreign variations of trucks that Ford Argentina put on the market.
The 1938 Ford roadster pick up pictured in this post features a passenger car front-end (deluxe), passenger car fenders and modified running boards, and what looks to be a factory produced bed of some sort.
The top appears crude, but it was actually fabricated quite keenly and features some cast parts. In fact, the more the details unfold the more they begin to tell the tale of a production line – limited or not. Dig deeper and the clues start to point to Argentina.
The battery and most of the electrical components are Argentinean, it’s right-hand drive, and the little truck sports a number of aftermarket add-ons typical of the region. I’m sold… This car was produced by a factory in Argentina. But how? Why? When?
In and around 1913, Ford opened up a subsidiary titled Ford Motor Argentina. The idea was that Ford could box up all of the parts needed to build a Model T, send them to Argentina, and then assemble the cars there.
The shipment was called a “Complete Knock-Down Kit” and came with just about everything imaginable. Amazingly, this little setup proved to be very efficient and profitable. It wasn’t long before the La Boca, Argentina factory was not only expanding in an effort to complete more “kits”, but they were also beginning to manufacture their own parts – including some sheet metal stamping.
Things rolled right along and progressed wonderfully down south until World War II. Ford stopped production of passenger cars in America to focus on war machines. Argentina wasn’t so much in the war, they still needed and wanted to produce cars.
In 1939, Ford closed the production side of the Argentina plant. The plant had a sizable inventory of random parts from various years and was left with the task of creating sellable stock. Although the “models” that were available are unclear, some Ford dealerships in Argentina were able to stay open until 1941.
That adds up to more than 2 years of “Frankenstein” produced vehicles. Who knows what all came out of that factory?
Well, we know one of them: A 1938 Ford Roadster Pick Up. All the evidence points to it being produced sometime between 1939 and 1941 with parts simply leftover from previous production runs.
It’s nearly impossible to figure the number of ’38 RPUs made as Ford Argentina was terrible about keeping records. However, it’s a safe bet that this one is a rare bird if not a 1 of 1…