Butch Buford's 1939 Ford Convertible

Just the Facts
Year: 1939
Make: Ford
Model: Convertible
Owner: Butch Buford
State: Virginia

Visitors to the 1939 New York World's Fair were among the first to see such modern advancements as television, fluorescent lights, and a cigarette-smoking robot named Elektro the Moto-Man. One especially popular attraction was Ford's new convertible. Today, the 1939 Ford convertible is still considered one of the most beautiful cars produced by Ford.

For Butch Buford, it has always been his dream car. Finding a true original version isn't easy, but he managed to do it in 2000, when he found a rumble seat–equipped, Flathead-powered, two-time Great Race competitor.

He decided not to change the body's unsurpassed design, so much of the exterior of Buford's convertible (including bumpers, lights, and trim) is original and nothing is modified. The paint (a Nissan color called Merlot) was sprayed by Alfred Hamblin from Rocky Mount, Virginia.

Underneath is where the mods start to show up. A custom chassis from Vision Rod & Customs includes a Heidts Superide II independent front suspension and a Currie 9-inch rear with an aluminum housing. Wilwood 11-inch disc brakes were added in the front, with drums retained in the rear. BFGoodrich Radial T/As are mounted on Billet Specialties Legacy wheels. Buford says he's "old school" so he went for 14- and 15-inch wheels.

The late-Kevin Hawkins of Salem, Virginia, upholstered and updated the interior. Classic Instruments gauges fill the original holes in the stock dash, with Vintage Air controls and vents in a lower dash. A Juliano's wheel was mounted on a Flaming River column. Tunes come from a Kenwood sound system.

Being a Ford guy, Buford had to have Blue Oval power in the 1939, and a 351 crate engine from Ford Racing fits the bill. It's dressed up with a Bitchin air cleaner, Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine system, and lots of chrome from Advanced Plating. Transmission is a five-speed TREMEC.

Don't let the show car looks fool you. The 13,967 on the odometer represents real miles, including the most recent 300 from Dublin, Virginia, to the Goodguys Nats in Columbus—a trip Buford has made several times.

STREET RODDER Magazine's Best Ford in a Ford presented by Ford Racing.