World’s Largest Early Ford Collection To Be Auctioned

For many, owning one or two such vehicles would be a wish come true. Butler had both the passion and the means to multiply that desire into a phenomenal collection of over 200 cars. Butler is more than a collector. An enthusiast, his passion for cars extends to driving multiple cars on a regular basis.

Butler died in early 2021. As the old saying goes, “You can’t take it with you,” this phenomenal collection of butler estate remains for other enthusiasts to enjoy.

Who is Rhett Butler?

Despite his impressive car collection, Rhett Butler is not famous in the hot rod world. A Texan, he spent a lot of time in South America, operating a successful cattle ranch in Paraguay. The little information we found about him suggests that he was a private man, an adventurer, and a philanthropist. He was a lifelong car collector, but most of his current collection was acquired in the last 20 years of his life.

Texas Collection

Most of the cars in this collection were early steel-bodied Fords. According to Mecum, this is the largest pre-war Ford V-8 collection in the world. Of those, his favorites are the 1933 and 1934 Ford, which comprise more than half of the collection. The collection includes several non-Fords, such as the Lincoln Zephyrs, REO, Franklins, Graham-Paiges, and other early classic cars, as well as several later vehicles, including the 1971 Mustang Mach 1 fastback, 1966 Mustang GT, 1957 Chevy, 1956 Fairlane, and 1956 Thunderbird. . There are a few race cars and hot rods in the mix as well, but the preference is heavily towards carefully restored cars.

Many of the cars in Butler’s collection were purchased in South America. In addition to his ranch in Paraguay, Butler owns a vacation property in Uruguay, where he will buy vehicles and ship them to the United States. A true fan, Butler knows the backstory of each of his cars. He never drove it on the road, but he did drive it regularly on the private driving track he built on his Texas Hill Country property. Otherwise, they are stored in five large climate-controlled buildings.

Every car from the Butler Estate Collection up for auction at Mecum in Dallas can be found on the Mecum website. Out of these more than 200 vehicles, we took these samples to give you an idea of ​​this incredible collection.

Remaining Mecum 2022 Auction

October 14-15: Chicago, Illinois
November 11-12: Las Vegas, Nevada

19 Amazing Fords from the Butler Estate Collection

1934 Ford Tudor Sedan

Rhett Butler liked the 1934 Ford sedan and called it “the Bonnie & Clyde car.” The notorious criminal couple drove a ’34 Fordor (four-door) sedan; this one is a Tudor (two doors). The car is powered by a 21-stud flathead engine with a single Stromberg 97 carburetor, supported by a three-speed transmission. Green paint accented with stripes along the belt line. Interior upholstery is brown. Pay attention to the steering wheel on the right.

1937 Ford Deluxe Five Window Coupe

This ’37 Ford coupe wears light blue paint, which carries over to the steel artillery-style wheels with V-8 chrome script hubcaps and trim rings. Wide whitewall tires and a rear fender skirt adorn the exterior. The dual taillights feature Blue Dot lenses. Ford will use the 21-stud 221-inch flathead for another year. Interior details include a banjo steering wheel and bench seats upholstered in mohair brown.

1947 Chrysler Town & Country Convertible

One of Butler’s postwar non-Fords is this stunning 1947 Chrysler Town & Country. In well-maintained condition, ready for the new owner to maintain its appearance or take care of it with restoration. The engine is a Chrysler 323 inline eight cylinder with Fluid Drive transmission. The Town & Country was progressive for its time with center brake light.

1927 Chevrolet Roadster Pickup

You’ve got to love the look of this 1927 Chevy roadster, which was once converted into a roadster pickup. Another right-hand drive vehicle, distinguished by its vinyl upper, bright red paint, wooden bed, 12-spoke wooden wheels and painted bumper. A four-cylinder engine fills the engine compartment. Pleated black leather covered the bench seat.

1933 Ford Hot Rod Three Window Coupe

Mecum Info identifies this ’33 Ford three-window coupe as a hot rod, but the mod is very simple. The navy blue primer is contrasted with bright red wire wheels wrapped in skinny piecrust tires—and with chrome on the grille shell, windshield frame and bumper. Dark brown mohair covered the bench seat. The engine-rotated dashboard panel is added to the wooden dashboard. The engine is a 239-inch 59AB flathead. The suspension has been updated with chrome shocks.

1932 Ford Aurora Speedster

The Butler collection includes several contemporary street bars designed and built by Jerry Kugel. The 1932 Ford “Aurora Speedster” was originally built to feature the Olds Aurora 243 engine and was shown at the 1994 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. It uses a Marcel DeLey aluminum body with independent Kugel suspension components front and rear, including inboard disc brakes.

1939 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe

Five Lincoln Zephyrs from the collection will be auctioned. This maroon Zephyr was one of three ’39s crossing the stage. Zephyrs featured a V-12 flathead engine. This beautifully restored example features a brown fabric interior and banjo steering wheel, plus painted steel wheels with lids and rings, rolling on wide whitewall tires.

1934 Ford Five Window Coupe

We’re back in the 34s with this classic black five-window coupe, running stock 221ci flatheads and Stromberg carbs. The Tacoma Cream wire wheels sport a chrome V-8 center cap. The interior is finished in tan tweed.

1934 Ford Five Window Coupe

Compare this red-black 1934 five-window coupe with the black version above. The flathead engine and three-speed transmission are the same, but the bright paint, rumbling seats, Ford greyhound hood ornament, A-pillar spotlights, and dark gray upholstery project a completely different personality.

1961 Sprint Race Car

This Sprint car, previously driven by Steve Waugh, is a departure from most of the cars Butler has collected, but also demonstrates his taste for traditional race cars. The cream and orange Star Oil Special runs the Shaver Racing engine. This will be one of our first choices for a drive around Butler’s private trails.

1926 Ford Track-T Roadster

How about another cool vintage race car? This ’26 Track T Roadster is identified by the So-Cal Speed ​​Shop Team Texas graphic. The double 94 carbs on the Edelbrock intake feeds the Offenhauser flathead engine. The cockpit has bright red pleated leather seats and Stewart-Warner gauges and an 8-ball shifter knob.

1930 Lincoln Racer

We’d love to hear some stories about this 1930 Lincoln roadster and its racing days. The preserved racer is stripped for historic competition, but retains many great styling elements, such as the leather straps, driver-side air deflector guard, and pinecone detailing on the instrument panel and surrounds.

1925 Cadillac Roadster

Another non-Ford from the Butler estate, this 1925 Cadillac runs a 315ci L-head flathead engine and a three-speed manual trans. Another right-hand drive in a two-tone navy blue and black paint, including rumble upholstery, black top, black leather interior, wooden steering wheel, three-tone three-tone rear turn signal, and the signature Boyce Moto Meter radiator cap. .

1950 Custom Mercury

Shock! We tell you Butler’s tastes are diverse, with room for traditional 50s quirks like this ’50 Merc, showcasing the best elements of the classic “tin sled.” On the outside, a healthy chop top, lower stance, shaved body panels, French headlights, spotlights, wide whitewall tires, Oldsmobile hubcaps, side pipes and special paint with shells; under the hood, a small block dressed with a finned valve cover and a Cadillac-style air purifier.

1934 Ford Cabriolet

The Ford ’34 Butler’s roster includes roadsters, coupes, sedans, phaetons, and Vickys—plus cabriolets like this Cordoba Gray ragtop. Unlike the roadster, the cabrio has a soft top but a fixed windshield and side windows that can be rolled up. This beauty features stylish details such as a button-down interior, wood grain dashboard and window trim, red wire wheels and a rear luggage rack with vintage luggage. Under the hood? You guessed it—a 221ci flattie with a single two-barrel Stromberg carburetor.

1938 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe

This 1938 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe is one of five Zephyrs from the Butler collection, and the only ’38. A red, see-through trough, painted with Garnet Red on the body and steel wheels, combined with red buttoned leather seats on the inside, with dark brown paint on the dashboard. The flathead engine is a 267-cubic-inch V-12.

1930 . Marquette Roadster Pick Up

A rare beauty with a bed. The Marquette name appeared and disappeared in its early days, and reappeared one year in 1930 as part of GM’s Buick division. Body styles include roadster, coupe, sedan and phaeton. This right-hand drive roadster pickup is the only pickup we’ve ever seen, and features a steel bed with wooden floors. The 1930 Marquettes were powered by a 212ci L-six cylinder head.

1930 Graham-Paige Phaeton

Graham-Paige was formed in 1927 when the three Graham brothers left Dodge and bought the automaker Paige. The Butler Plantation contains a 1937 Graham-Paige and two 1930 models, including this maroon and brown right-hand drive phaeton. The car is powered by an in-line six engine; Graham-Paige also used an eight-cylinder flathead.

1935 Ford Cabriolet

Another eye-catching right-hand cabriolet, this very clean ’35 Ford Cabriolet was restored with a 221 and three-speed engine. The bright red paint is complemented by a beige fabric upper and brown leather upholstery in the interior and on the rumbling seats.

Watch the Full Episode! Winter Travel with Topless Deuce Roadster

In season 3, episode 2 of HOT ROD Unlimited, Thom Taylor drives a channeled topless Deuce roadster in the middle of winter from Nashville to Los Angeles, encountering what you expect in the middle of winter: ice, rain, cold, frost—did we mention cold?? Watch the roadster skid, slide, and spin 2,000 miles as Thom traverses Interstate 40 through eight states and 70 degrees of temperature change, resting from exhaustion, damage, bad weather, and junkyards. Sign up for a free trial of MotorTrend+ and start streaming every episode HOT ROD Unlimited today!

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