According to R.L. Polk & Company, the average American keeps a new car for nearly six years.
Robert Johns of Platteville has that statistic topped eight times over.
Johns owns a 1935 Ford five-window Business Coupe, a full-size two-door car with an enlarged trunk in place of a back seat. (A rumble seat in place of the trunk was optional.) Business Coupes were usually purchased by, as the name implies, business or sales people.
Johns purchased the car from a Platteville State Teachers College instructor in 1965 for $350. The instructor bought the car new when it had a list price of $555.
The car has won about 70 trophies, most recently two at the Great River Car Show and Cruise in McGregor, Iowa, July 22.
Johns is a U.S. Army veteran who served six weeks as a prisoner of war at the end of World War II. He then worked as an electrician before he retired 15 years ago.
“I thought some day when I got semi-retired I wanted something to do,” said Johns. “I had to put it on hold for quite a few years.”
The car has a flathead V-8 engine, a new design for 1935, and a three-speed manual transmission. It also has a tan mohair interior and one of the first vinyl tops on its roof.
Power steering or brakes didn’t exist when the car was built. Nor did power windows, though it has a roll-down rear window and a windshield that can be cranked open from the bottom. It also has no radio, but the original owner did purchase a toolkit so that, Johns said, someone coming upon the broken-down car on the side of the road could repair it.
Johns estimates he’s put about $11,000 into restoring the car, from overhauling the engine to repainting the car in its original gray with a green pinstripe. Restoring, instead of replacing, the front bumper cost more than $1,300 alone. Another $2,000 was spent on restoring the mohair interior.
“A little body work, and I don’t know how many coats of paint on it,” said Johns. “The whole nine yards.”
One car show that has not seen Johns’ Ford is the Iola Old Car Show, the state’s biggest car show. Johns plans to take it there next July.