From the outside, it looks like an old “Uncle Daniel,” but drop down a gear or two, the Currie limited-slip 9-inch rear locks up, the fat 235/75:15s chirp, and this baby flat hauls with a raaaaappp from the shorty Flowmasters that tells onlookers there’s something special under that hood. When it’s parked, and I pop the hood, bystanders crowd around. The massive Hemi fits with precious little room on either side. It looks as though it was coaxed between the framerails with a whip and a chair.

Over time, and with the help of talented friends like Richard Graves and Warren Barbee, I’ve changed a few things. The 15-inch Vintique steel wheels, reversed in back, originally burgundy, are now painted black to match the car’s finish. Big ECI/GM ventilated disc brakes in front replaced the marginal Buick drums; an accessory Ford rear gravel pan fills the unsightly gap between the tail section and the rear bumper; and the exhaust system’s been modified for better ground clearance. The more I rub on that old paint, the better the patina.

This car is a lovely driver. When I lived in L.A., I took it on Mark Morton’s famous River City Reliability Run. Now that I live back East, it’s been to the famed Ty-Rods meet in Massachusetts, to NSRA’s East Coast Nationals in York several times, and on countless runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ripping up Route 81, passing long lines of truckers, I seldom fail to get an air horn salute. I wave back, thinking they must be enjoying the sight of a 72-year-old Ford roadster scampering up the hills like a little black rabbit.

I’m not going to say my ’39 corners like a sports car, but with its dropped front axle, parallel leaf rear springs, and “indaweeds” stance, it’s got a much lower center of gravity than a stocker. Thanks to tubular hydraulic shocks, and beefy sway bars front and rear, it handles surprisingly well in long sweepers, and the up-rated front brakes now match the engine’s potential.

There’s not much more I’d ever do to it, but I have fantasized about chopping the windshield 2-1/2 inches and having Steve Pierce build a Carson top similar to the one he did on my ’32 roadster. One of my favorite vintage photos shows a chopped but otherwise stock-looking ’39 Ford on a hot rod used car lot in Los Angeles. With my height, we wouldn’t even have to lower the seat. Hmm ...

There’s a long list of friends who’ve said, “If you ever want to sell that car ...” and you know the rest. But it’s not for sale. Not ever.

Funny thing is, Jim Cherry asked about buying it back several times. When I wouldn’t sell it, he bought another ’39 convertible, installed an Ardun-Mercury V-8 and, as this was written, he was just working the bugs out and getting it running. He says it’s not for sale, but with Jim, you never know ...