Pilot episode – 1949 Ford V8 Pilot Saloon

Britain’s V8 Ford makes a rare auction appearance at Bonhams


Russ Smith’s market headliners

The first big post-war Ford, the Pilot, owed an awful lot to the pre-conflict Model 62, including the running board styling. It was always rare, because it was relatively expensive and in any case not much of anything was sold in the UK at that time. Just 22,155 were built between 1947 and ’1951, and all were equipped with a 3622cc sidevalve (or flathead) V8.

These days most survivors change hands in club circles, so it’s a refreshing and unusual occurrence to see one offered at auction. The 1949 car here is in Bonhams’ Beaulieu sale on September 7, and it looks a bit special.

Part of a private collection since 2006, it is currently on Irish plates but has all the documentation it needs to make it easy to register in the UK. It is also possibly unique in never having been restored. The 38,500 miles is not guaranteed, but given the overall condition of the car it is not hard to believe. Certainly the brown leather seats have seen a minimal amount of backside action and the wonderful swirly-patterned plastic steering wheel has none of the common cracking.

1949 Ford V8 Pilot Saloon

1949 Ford V8 Pilot Saloon

‘That £6000- £10,000 estimate looks very sensible. The best can sell for twice the top figure’

We asked early Ford expert Richy Barnett for his take on it. ‘For a start that £6000- £10,000 estimate looks very sensible. The best can sell for twice the top figure.

‘And this car appears pretty good – the panel gaps look fine and the paint still reflects well and doesn’t appear to show up any bodywork woes. Given that it’s been on there so long, it’s not going to be hiding anything.

‘But a new owner should ideally give it a thorough mechanical going-through, ideally with a flathead Ford specialist, because these V8 engines can suffer from overheating and there’s no paperwork suggesting mechanical work has been carried out recently. That said, if it can be bought within that estimate I’d say it would be a cracking buy.’

For more information see bonhams.com/cars

This uniquely well-preserved Pilot might be modestly estimated, but will the mechanical unknowns keep bidders’ feet firmly on the ground?

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