When it comes to building a show-quality street rod, priorities tend to get split between looks and power. Sure, chopped and channeled bodies look great. Having 400+ hp in a small car is usually a good thing too. The problem shows itself when you actually try to drive one of them. Most of those cars just aren’t built for more than a quick romp down Main Street. This 1939 Ford coupe does its part to change that by offering a driver-focused car with a responsive 351 Windsor, a Tremec five-speed, and a nicely laid out interior with plenty of leg and head room. The best part is, all of that is practicality wrapped in a show-ready shell complete with a smoothed and painted undercarriage. If you’re in the market for an attention-grabbing show piece that can be enjoyed at any speed, your Ford has arrived.
To get the big question out of the way – yes, it’s a steel body. The shell has been smoothed but, for the most part, it remains in stock proportions. The most radical change is probably the hood. Both the center seam and roughly five inches of metal were removed to give the car a sleeker profile. Some other notable updates include shaved door handles, rounded doors, and a shortened decklid that makes room for a custom license plate recess. With all that time invested in metal work, this car was destined for some serious paintwork. What it received Is a slick green and silver two-tone that sets the car apart without resorting to gimmicks. The two main colors are divided by a dark custom graphic that emulates stainless and wood trim. The work presents well overall and comes to life in sunlight thanks to the generous amount of flake mixed into the paint.
Step in for a closer look and you’ll find plenty more to appreciate on this street rod. The front view is surprisingly familiar, with most of the ’39 character left in place. The front bumper has been deleted while the factory grille looks great in its new context. A pair of upgraded headlights cap the fenders with traditional style. The side view follows the same formula with most of the key pieces still in place. The running boards sport a coat of silver paint to tie in better with the body while round chrome rear view mirrors hang on both sides. At the front of the greenhouse, the windshield is wiped clean by a pair of bright wipers. The rest of the glass has been treated to tint for a more modern look. Follow the roofline down to a sloping rear view that consists of a the shortened decklid mentioned earlier. An LED third brake light has also been incorporated between two small Ford taillights on the back of each fender.
In 1939, the best you could hope for under the hood was the L-head 221ci V8. While it was significantly improved over previous versions, power output remained in the neighborhood of 85hp – not exactly land-speed material. This coupe relies on Ford power but, in place of the flathead, you’ll find a 351w crate engine. Claimed output is around the 400hp mark, making this a full-blown race car by 1939 standards. The engine is topped with a chrome air cleaner assembly that conceals a Weber 4-barrel carb. The intake manifold is an aftermarket piece which, like most of the hardware here, has been smoothed and painted. At either side, aluminum heads are fitted with Ford Racing valve covers. At the front of the compact bay, the engine manages to turn a painted air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, and alternator all opposite of a Walker radiator and an electric fan, both fitted within a smoothed and painted cover. At the sides of the engine, ceramic coated shorty headers carry spent gases to the exhaust system below. Behind the detailed engine, a smoothed firewall offers a perfect backdrop, accented by a custom stripe with a Ford V8 logo in the center.
Take a look underneath this coupe to find a fully painted and detailed undercarriage. The foundation is a custom 2x4 tube chassis mated to a Heidts Mustang II-style front suspension. The crossmember wears the same shade of green as the top half of the body and is finished off with chrome A-arms and coilovers that help achieve the car’s raked stance. A power rack-and-pinion steering system is also in place to keep steering effort minimal. The rear half is supported by a pair of leaf springs, aided by fresh shocks and a rear sway bar. In the center of all that hardware, a Tremec 5-speed manual offers full control of the 351. Like the rest of the car, the transmission has been smoothed and painted for a show-ready look. Out back, a painted Ford 9-inch differential puts the power to the pavement. A true dual exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers runs nearly the length of the undercarriage, exiting directly behind the painted custom fuel tank. At the corners, a power disc brake setup was borrowed from the GM parts bucket while a set of 17 and 18-inch Billet Specialties five-spoke wheels wrapped in Fuzion ZRi tires round out the chassis.
Inside the car, a comfortable interior balances out the best of new and old. The dashboard is the obvious starting point with its unique configuration. One of the best parts of the late-model Corvette interior is its focus on the driver and, looking around the interior of this Ford, its easy to see some borrowed inspiration. Directly in front of the driver, a billet steering wheel tops a tilt-column for some modern form and function. Behind the wheel a pair of white AutoMeter gauges monitor speed and revs from within a uniquely-textured gauge cluster. A slight twist to the right reveals two custom pods aimed at the driver, filled with more AutoMeter instrumentation as well as the ignition and controls for the Vintage Air HVAC system. Both pods feature the same texture as the gauge cluster for a cohesive look. In front of the passenger, a matching clock displays time from within a custom cove. The rest of the interior is filled with a blend of gray leather and green carpet for a comfortable modern look. The seats are power adjustable buckets, both attractive and comfortable enough for all-day driving. Behind those seats, a custom panel centers on a Kicker amplifier and a Sony head unit that power the sound system. Open the trunk to find an equally well finished space with more green carpet and leather panels.
Included in the sale of this ’39 coupe is a pile of restoration photos that provide plenty of insight into how this Ford was bolted together. The transition from an aged frame to a complete cruiser is impressive to say the least!
Equally competent on the road and show field, this 1939 Ford coupe strikes a rare balance in the street rod world. If you’re ready to hit the road and collect trophies in the same car, don’t miss the chance to bring this coupe home today!