He was in poor health, still trying to reel in No. 22, when he died on Feb. 17, 2007, at age 84. His widow, Jean, died on Oct. 16, 2012.
His family has now decided it’s time to auction off all but one of the Fords, and a number of Emery Ward’s other old cars, in a big auction.
In all 30, cars will be sold. This includes 20 of the 21 1936 Fords, plus a few other old cars owned by Ward or his sons. Car parts and car-related memorabilia also will be sold the weekend of May 16-17 at the Erie County Fairgrounds.
For details, go to the auctioneer’s website, bakerbonnigson.com .
Emery Ward’s four sons — Jerry, Jeff, John and Jim “Emery” Ward — gathered on the family’s longtime property on Venice Road in west Sandusky to answer questions about their father’s collection and show off some of the beautiful old cars.
Emery Ward owned and ran dump trucks for a living and then eventually owned a Venice Road gift shop, the Ju-Je. The sons explained that their father’s first car was a 1936 Ford.
It eventually left his hands, but it began his long-running passion for ’36 Fords.
Considerable work had to be done over the last several months to get the cars running again and in good shape for the auction after they had sat around.
“They’ve been sitting for seven years without getting them out and running,” Jeff Ward said. “We’ve been working on them the last eight months”
But that work didn’t match the huge amount of effort made to assemble the collection in the first place.
Trying to find all 22 models of Ford’s 1936 cars forced Emery Ward to travel all over the country, and many of the cars were in bad condition. Most weren’t even running, Jeff Ward said.
“He’s been to almost every state to pick these cars up” he said.
One car, apparently used for target practice, had 30 to 40 bullet holes in it. Another had passengers that had to be removed. “He went to Texas and got one and it had rattlesnakes in it” Jeff Ward said. Emery Ward seemed to spend almost all of his time working on his cars, or going to swap meets to find parts. John Ward remembers his father complaining, toward the end, that swap meets nowadays only carried “new stuff” — car parts from the 1960s and 1970s.
As the collection took shape, word spread. “He had people come from Wisconsin and all over to look at them,” Jeff Ward said. “He’d meet a lot of people at swap meets, and they’d come over” Showing the cars off at shows was a family affair. “He’d put two or three or four of them in the show,” John Ward said. “We’d take them down and set them up for him” Other members of the Ward family also have collected cars. It’s a gratifying hobby,but it can have its sad moments. Jerry Ward spent about two weeks carefully restoring a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro. Two weeks after it was finished, it was stolen and never seen again. “I still have the keys and title,” Jerry Ward said. Undaunted, he restored an identical model, which now sits gleaming in the same garage as several of the old Fords.
Ward assembled his collection of 1936 Fords over a period of about 35 years. Shortly before he died, he looked at a car that would have provided his 22nd model, completing the collection, but he was in poor health by then and felt he couldn’t do the work.
“He said, that’s too rough” John Ward said. Although he was a Ford man, Emery Ward could appreciate other cars, his sons said. “Just so it wasn’t a foreign car,” John Ward said. “He wouldn’t have worked on it, put it that way” Jeff Ward said.