Stopping power for a hot rod doesn’t always refer to the brakes; in this case it refers to the intangible ability to impede one’s progress while walking among thousands of other like-modified cars. Derrell Dudley’s 1940 Ford DeLuxe coupe has stopping power. Was it the half-dozen Holley 94 carbs and polished stacks or was it the Pagan Gold firewall? Maybe it was the hot rod rake and the chrome rims. It really was no single item, but rather all of these things in concert with each other that captures that real hot rod spirit.

Of course it wasn’t always this way. As a matter of fact after lusting for a ’40 coupe for more than 25 years, Derrell purchased this car as a “finished” street rod in 1996. In his own words Derrell describes the purchase, “My first mistake was I wanted a ’40 coupe all my life and I just had to have this one. I made the deal when it was raining, in the early evening and then drove it home in the dark. Wow, was I surprised to find what was under that pretty exterior when the lights came on.” But, after installing a new motor and transmission along with sorting out the suspension Derrell describes his ’40 this way, “I drove the car a lot, and drove it hard over the next 10 years and enjoyed every minute of it. Well, OK there was the time it caught on fire, but that’s another story.”

Now remember Darrell bought this coupe in the mid-’90s, an era often referred to as 1990-tweed. Yes, exterior graphics and tweed were two of the most conspicuous ways to date a car and this ’40 was wearing both of them. It was time for a change and since Derrell’s son, Jay, had just moved back to the area they decided to give the coupe a more traditional look and feel. Of course the more they dismantled the car the more it became apparent the ’40 was ready for a complete rebuild.

Unfortunately, about this time Derrell suffered a pair of heart attacks so his recovery took priority over the coupe’s rebuild. However, while the car was relegated to resting in the garage, Derrell spent the time to fine-tune the concept in his mind. It was decided the car should appear to be a mid-’60s hot rod; no parts past 1968 would be used on the car, save the Mustang II suspension and brakes.

The chassis would be refreshed but unchanged with the Mustang II–style front suspension with dropped spindles and cut coils, providing a definitive forward rake. Out back the stock frame is C’d to clear the 9-inch Ford rear. A Mustang dual master cylinder is located under the floor to keep the firewall clean. After 10 years of hard running it was decided that a new 350-cube 290hp crate motor would be the basis of power, but in keeping with the early theme, Derrell wanted multiple carbs. A call to Charlie Price at Vintage Speed in Vero Beach, Florida, netted just what the coupe needed; six Holley 94s resting atop an Offenhauser intake. The finned Edelbrock valve covers now have a flat machined surface in the middle where longtime artist Bob Dale painted two ’50s-style pin-up girls. Since block hugger headers would violate the ’68 cutoff date, a set of Corvette exhaust manifolds were used along with a mechanical seven-blade fan that spins inside a Vintage Air shroud.