What is the oldest thing you own?
For many people, it could be an old lawnmower that has worked faithfully for the last few decades. It could be a set of china handed down from a relative, or maybe even that old VCR that has been stowed away in an attic somewhere.
Whatever the item is, not everyone’s most aged possession can claim more than 80 years of history. Much less so if it is a piece of complex machinery.
But that is exactly the claim to fame for a local man’s automobile, which in its time has been in working order past World War II, the Cold War, the hippie revolution, the fall of communism, the new millennium and all the way up to today.
Glyn Jones, a Greenville resident, has what seems to be a normal looking abode. But take a trip to his back garage and you would be taking a trip down memory lane. His garage features a replica Mobil gas station circa the 1940s, and the walls are adorned with old oil cans, newspaper clippings of old cars and photographs of some of the finest jet planes ever flown. Residing in the garage is a white and turquoise 1955 Ford Fairlane; Next to that, a black 1939 Ford Business Coupe, a relic of a bygone era.
You would’t find an inch of wear on the ’39 Ford, which has been immaculately cared for by Jones since about 1969. But the car has a family history that stretches back all the way to Jones’ days as a toddler.
Jones has been retired since the mid-90s. He began work as an aircraft painter at Texas Engineering & Manufacturing Company, or TEMCO, in Greenville in 1956. He worked there for more than 40 years, moving into a management position and staying on through the changes at the facility, which is now the home of L3Harris Technologies. He says that his family was very traditional, and his father told him that before he would get married, he should first get a job and be able to support a family.
Jones took those words to heart, but wasted no time once he had steady work, proposing to his sweetheart Paula as soon as he could.
“When I started at TEMCO, I had a 90-day probationary period,” Jones said. “As soon as I got that paycheck when the period ended, I drove to the jeweler, got a ring and went straight to Farmersville where Paula was.”
Glyn and Paula have celebrated 63 years of marriage.
As for the ’39 Ford, that car has been in the family since it was purchased brand new in 1938. Jones’ father Mylus worked at the Ford factory in Kansas City, and using his employee discount, purchased the car for Jones’ grandfather Edward Waid, a farmer in Campbell.
Jones said his father drove the car off of the assembly line and paid $575 for the machine. For comparison, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with inflation that comes to just under $10,500 in today’s money. Not a bad deal!
From there, the car took the longest journey it has ever embarked on in 80-plus years from Kasas City all the way down to Campbell. From there it stayed on the Waid family farm for years. Jones took that ride down to Texas with the car at just four years old, and left his mark on it already.
“You see that corner right there?” Jones said, pointing to the rear passenger-side pillar separating the side windows from the rear window. “I rode up on that package tray in the back, and was unhappy or uncomfortable enough to kick a hole in it.”
The damage was repaired later.
The car holds a special place in Jones’ heart, as he says it was the car he learned to drive in at just 10 years old. Jones remembers how his grandfather used cinder blocks to allow the young Jones to reach the pedals, and how he would tool around the family farm in the ’39 coupe.
Upon Waid’s passing in 1969, Jones became the owner of the car and has cared for it ever since. It is far from a daily driver, with the octogenarian automobile sporting just a hair under 67,000 miles after all this time.
But even with all the time that has passed, the car still runs great. While some elbow grease is required to turn the wheel due to lack of any power steering, the three-speed transmission shows no signs of stopping any time soon, and the car hums pleasantly down the road, powered by an 85-horsepower flathead V8.
As an aside, even this Herald-Banner reporter, who has never fully driven a standard before, was able to get the car around the block with only a few stop-and-go’s after Jones graciously offered him to take it for a spin.
Along with the immaculate upkeep of the car itself, Jones also has several original documents relating to the car, including the original bill of sale for $575 and the car’s first state registration which was issued in 1942 when the state’s first title law went into effect. In addition, Jones keeps many photographs from decades ago that feature the car. Some examples include a family photo when the car was first delivered to grandpa Waid, which features Jones as a toddler, and a photo of Jones and wife Paula shortly after their marriage in 1956.
While the machine is definitely a fine specimen, Jones doesn’t really take it out onto the car show scene much. He does go on a few cruises and meets up with classic car clubs here and there, but he spares it from heavy use.
Jones most recently brought out the car for the Youth Connections Car, Truck and Bike Show held at Wesley United Methodist Church in Greenville in June.
Jones says that while he doesn’t show the car off much, it does get a lot of attention whenever he does.
“Whenever I take it to a show or somewhere else, a lot of people tend to hang around it,” Jones beamed. “It’s certainly a conversation starter.”
“I think it brings a kind of nostalgia to a lot of people,” Jones continued.
Jones says he plans to hand the car down to his son Greg upon his passing.