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- June 2009
The Floyd Gallery
By: Tom Olsen
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?
In our May 2018 issue, we told you about Joe Floyd’s 18-car collection of restored 1936 Fords. In that article it was announced that the entire collection was being donated to the Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum in Auburn, Indiana. That has now happened.
For those that didn’t see the previous article I’ll review a little for you. Joe Floyd is a retired Sioux Falls businessman with a love for automobiles. When his late wife, Elaine, asked what Joe was going to do in retirement he announced that he might start working on old cars again, an interest he had from many years prior. Joe’s favorite cars were always 1936 Fords. He felt “they were the neatest cars in the world!”
In 2002 Joe spotted a ’36 Ford Cabriolet advertised online. Elaine happened to be in Houston where the car was. She went over to the seller’s house and bought the car. That started the whole process. From that time on, Joe was actively searching for the various models that he wanted. Some models were a priority, others were picked up as he came across them. From 2002 until 2017, all fourteen production models of 1936 Ford, plus four specialty variations, were acquired. Some of the cars in the collection are incredibly rare, as in only one known to exist in the country! Those eighteen 1936 Fords represent the most complete collection of this automobile in the country, and certainly the world!
All the cars in the collection are in pristine condition. Some were purchased already restored, while others were extremely rough and required extensive parts replacement and restoration. Joe became close friends with Marty Anfinson, owner of Straight Lines Custom Restorations, as he began the restoration on many of the cars. Marty and his team at Straight Lines fully restored eight of the cars in the collection, and have done other levels of work on nearly all the others.
With the collection complete it was time to decide what to do with the cars for the future. Joe’s preference was to keep the collection intact and placed somewhere that the public could see, enjoy, and learn from it.
The Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum was the logical place for this amazing collection. The Foundation is an educational organization dedicated to “preserving 1932-1953 early Ford V8 history.” Having served on the Board of Trustees for the Foundation, Joe was able to develop a plan with them for the donation of the cars to the Foundation Museum. In addition to that, Joe funded a 10,000 square foot addition to the museum expansion that was already underway. There is also a program established to support the maintenance of the cars and the gallery for 20 years. The collection will be intact for at least that long.
Starting last summer, the cars were transported to the museum over the course of several months. Once the “Floyd Gallery,” as it is called, was completed the collection was moved in. The grand opening of the Floyd Gallery was on Friday, May 10th, with a “friends and family” opening and reception the evening prior. I was fortunate to travel with the staff from Straight Lines for the opening and reception on Thursday.
Approximately 75 invited guests were on hand for the Thursday evening reception. Joe Floyd and a number of his family members were present, of course. Others present were many of Joe’s friends and Early Ford V8 Foundation members. John Knecht, President of the Board of Trustees for the Foundation, emceed the event then turned the microphone over to Joe. Following an enlightening and entertaining presentation on the background of the 1936 Ford, we were off to view the museum at our own pace.
So, how does it look, you ask? In a word, outstanding!
Outside, one of the first things you see as you approach the museum is a ½ scale rendition of the Ford Rotunda. This houses some of the vehicles on display much like Ford used the Rotunda in Dearborn to showcase new models years ago.
The inside of the Floyd Gallery is designed to resemble aspects of a Ford dealership in the 1930s. The full collection is on display in a well-lit, period-correct setting. All of the cars are completely accessible so people can get a good look. One of the rarest cars of the lot, the “Stainless Car” is on a rotating turntable just behind the front windows of the building. Throughout the exhibit there is signage and displays explaining the cars, the selection process, and the purchasing process of a new 1936 Ford. A “sales desk” complete with a dealership accessory manual is available for examination. Another interesting piece on display is a complete, freshly restored, 1936 Ford “platform.” (Chassis, engine, transmission, and all related parts less the car body.) Many aspects of the museum are designed to be educational and “hands on” to enable a learning experience for visitors.
The plan has now come full circle. The Floyd collection of 1936 Fords is complete and all are in magnificent condition. The Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum expansion project is finished and the Floyd Gallery is open for the public to enjoy. These cars, which were previously housed in a private garage collection, are today located in an outstanding museum setting appropriate for the quality of the collection. While many of us in the Sioux Falls area will miss having the cars accessible here, in the grand scheme of things, the cars are now where they belong.
Auburn, Indiana, is a city rich with automotive history. In addition to the Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum, there is the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, National Automobile and Truck Museum, and the Kruse Automobile and Carriage Museum. It’s pretty apparent that, as an auto enthusiast, you could easily spend a day or two enjoying automobiles in Auburn.