The first Ford Sportsman was delivered to actress Ella Raines

Wednesday 25th December 1946

The first Ford Sportsman was delivered to actress Ella Raines. The first wood-bodied convertible ever produced, the Ford Sportsman evolved on the whim of company president Henry Ford II. Ford asked design chief E.T. “Bob” Gregorie if he could build a one-off body on an old Model A chassis that could be used for family outings to the Southampton beach. Copying the wood-paneled themes of the station wagons which the company had been producing for years, Gregorie utilized expensive mahogany plywood sourced from Ford’s wartime production plant that had been used to build gliders. Gregorie’s charming creation became the envy of many upper-level Ford executives and prompted the design of a similar production convertible. The Sportsman Convertible proved to be the only brand-new design for Ford in 1946, as all automakers largely resumed their pre-war models to quickly meet the overwhelming demand created by the conflict’s production moratorium.Poised atop Ford’s Super Deluxe series and minimally produced with a mere 2,274 examples, the Sportsman was adorned with a host of standard luxury amenities that served to further bolster its desirability. Accordingly, it was the first Ford to retail for more than $2,000 since the 1908 Model K. Largely acknowledged to be the finest of the Ford woodies, today the Sportsman is classified as a Certified Milestone Car by the Milestone Car Society, a benchmark of the most distinctive and desirable post-war automobiles.

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