Exit Lane: Mike Froome

Mike Froome
Vice President
M&T Printing Group

1936 Ford TudorSlantback
221-cubic-inch flathead V8, 90 HP
65,000 miles

I WORK IN a fast business—an 11th-hour business—and I go fast all day long. Who doesn’t? Everything is instant now. So a few years ago, when I first started thinking about getting an old car, I would tell people I wanted a slow car. I put the word out with some of the auto dealerships we work with, and last year someone contacted me about a 93-year-old gentleman who had this vehicle and was interested in selling it.

I’M WAY MORE of a history buff than a car guy, and it was the history surrounding this vehicle—and everything that was going on in the world in 1936—that attracted me. When I was negotiating the purchase, I did so with the gentleman and his family. They wanted me to understand the responsibility; that he needed to approve of me becoming the next caretaker of this vehicle.

I REMEMBER SAYING to him that I didn’t really know much about cars, which set him back a bit. But then I told him I do know about 1936. That pulled the two sides together.

FORD LAUNCHED THE flathead V8 in 1932 and it was a benchmark because it was the first casting of a crankcase and cylinders in one solid engine block. It was reliable and really fast for the era. They would get stolen all the time because bank robbers and gangsters loved the speed.

THERE’S VERY FEW around in original shape. In the 1950s, teenagers loved to turn them into hot rods and chop tops. Thankfully, no one got their hands on this one.

MY FATHER-IN-LAW, WHO was born in 1936, pops around the house two or three times a week and takes it out for a drive. You need to do that with this car. He drives it so smoothly—I’m nowhere near as accomplished behind the wheel.

I REMEMBER BEING in awe the first time I drove it. Even though it was simplistic, it was all foreign to me. I was like a kid in a candy store, and I couldn’t believe that everyone I drove by waved at me.

THE HISTORY IT imparts is special. You smell it and you feel it in the steering wheel and clutch. It’s a visceral experience.

WILL I KEEP it forever? Well, it’s new to me, it’s fresh and I’m pretty proud of it right now. But it’s also introduced me to the world of cars and I find myself reading more and more about different models and how they represent a place in time and commerce. It’s fascinating. So it’s a hard question to answer right now. It would definitely have to fall into the right hands.