When it comes to vintage Fords, there are plenty of restomods and street rods to be had – especially with for a model as popular as the 1940 Ford. Unfortunately, for every original car that gets a Mustang II front clip and a small block Chevy, the appeal that originally drove buyers into showrooms gets relegated to history books. Thankfully, there are still cars like this stunning 1940 Ford Deluxe coupe to remind us just how great these cars are in stock form. Powered by a legendary flathead, backed by a 3-speed, and dressed in black, the car can keep up with modern traffic and turn heads all the way. The coupe is also an AACA star, having received Grand National status and no less than six Preservation Awards. Pair those accolades with two Dearborn Awards and you’ll start to get a clue just how correct this Deluxe really is. If you’re looking for a near-perfect Ford to add to your pre-war collection, they don’t get much nicer than this!
With a 73-year-old car, authenticity can be a tricky thing to preserve but this coupe had a great advantage to start with. The restoration centered on an original rust-free body that was stripped to bare metal for a new beginning both inside and out. The panels were gently refined in preparation for a new coat of black paint sprayed by Rick’s Body Shop in Gastonia, North Carolina. The modern base/clear offers a deeper luster than enamel could ever touch and, with proper care, means this car can keep its shine for a long time to come. Panel fitment is well within factory spec and, overall, the car makes a strong first impression.
Ford designed some great accents to complement the sweeping lines of the ’40 Ford and all those items are present and, in several cases, original or NOS for added authenticity. The front end starts with an original bumper and wingtips that have been re-chromed. Behind them, the classic Ford grille remains in place, framed by a pair of Ford script halogen headlights set in substantial chrome bezels. For safety, turn signals have been hidden in the parking lights and taillights. Deluxe hood trim draws the eye back toward a greenhouse filled with all new glass and rubber throughout, with a windshield maintained by vacuum wipers. The side profile is surprisingly clean with only a simple trim strip flowing across the surface while chrome door handles, dual mirrors, and fresh running board rubber continue the showroom-fresh look. The sloping rear flows toward NOS tail lenses with halogen bulbs that sit above a second re-chrome original bumper. In the center of the deck lid, a nicely aged Ford V8 badge reminds onlookers what the real star of the show is.
Pull the V8 logo on the hood, depress a second latch, and a 221ci Ford flathead V8 comes into view. Despite its original look, the engine is an era-correct 95hp truck block that’s been bored .030 over and reassembled with a new cam, a 1953-spec crankshaft, and a high-pressure oil pump. The builder estimates output at approximately 100hp and, for a car that left the plant with 85hp, that’s a pretty solid upgrade. The block is dressed in a correct coat of dark green paint and topped with correct cast iron heads, a Holley 91-99 carburetor, and a properly decaled Oil Bath air cleaner. Fuel is supplied by a new stainless tank and sending unit aided by a hidden electric pump while spark is delivered through an NOS distributor and woven plug wires. The Ford battery looks correct but hides Optima cells for modern cranking power. There are a lot of stories of heat issues with these engines, but this one stays cool thanks to rebuilt water pumps turned by a correct brown V-belt. Having seen 1,500 miles since restoration, you can rest assure this show-read flathead is fully sorted too!
One of the great things about cars of this era is how simplistic they are in design. A quick look underneath reveals a plainspoken but effective chassis restored to AACA standards. In the center, a rebuilt 3-speed manual transmission offers full control of the flathead’s output while an open banjo-style differential translates that power to the ground. The suspension consists of wrapped transverse leaf springs at all four corners, aided by knee-action shocks and radius rods out back. That straightforward suspension is backed by direct manual steering and hydraulic drum brakes which have been turned and freshened with new liners, correct shims, and rebuilt cylinders. The vintage chassis meets the road through original 16-inch steel wheels dressed with chrome covers and wrapped in 6.00-16 BF Goodrich Silvertown wide white wall tires to cap off the classic look.
Between the doors, a warm and welcoming interior is a pre-war time machine thanks to simple fabrics, tasteful use of wood grain, and handsome art deco details throughout. The work was performed by J&J Auto Upholstery in Gastonia, North Carolina who obviously know their way around a vintage Ford. The centerpiece is a firm bench seat that’s been rewrapped but maintains its vintage swagger. Seat belts have also been added for safety. Slide into the driver’s side for a better look at the attractive factory dash. The Deluxe models had a little cleaner look and this one offers pristine Bakelite plastic knobs, an AM radio in the center, an NOS headlamp switch, and a clock on the passenger side. Instrumentation is left to stock gauges that transmit information about speed, fuel, temperature, oil pressure, and battery output through a sleek art deco typeface. The speedometer has been calibrated, the radio still pulls signal, and the clock keeps time just like it did in 1940. From the carpet up, all the soft surfaces present as new
Items offered with the sale of the ’40 Ford include an original owner’s manual, a separate manual for the AM radio, and a restoration guide that offers insight into what the car may have gone through. There are also photos of the awards the car has claimed which include:
•AACA 1st Junior – 2003
•AACA 1st Senior – 2004
•AACA 1st Grand National – 2005
•Six AACA Preservation Awards
•Two Dearborn Awards (982/1000 and 989/1000 points awarded, respectively)
Thanks to the careful restoration, this car is an absolute pleasure to look at and even more so to drive on a nice weekend. The flathead provides ample power, the three-speed shifts as it should, and the comfortable Ford cabin will have you second-guessing if you ever want to go back to a modern car. Factor in its award-winning past and you have a Ford truly worth celebrating. If you’re ready to hit the show fields in a proven Ford coupe, don’t miss the chance to add this ’40 Deluxe to your stable today!