One of the most exciting challenges in rodding is locating old, used up hot rods languishing in garages across America. They are still out there, but most times it takes a devoted archeologist to follow a trail of information leading to one. Locate one with a memorable history, like having ruled local streets back in the day, and the pile gets even smaller. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can catch a break when a friend supplies you with a lead bringing you to such a car.

For Steve Ramsey of Fallston, Maryland, it was fate when he followed one such lead, bringing him to a ’40 Ford coupe that had been mothballed away for decades. What he found was an old ’60s-era gasser complete with a straight-axle, nosebleed stance, 406-inch Ford mill, and metalflake bucket seats intact. After a number of visits to see the car and talk with its original owner, a deal was made and the ’40 was hauled back to Steve’s shop for evaluation.

Having grown up immersed in hot rodding, turning wrenches at his dad’s garage since he was in his teens, the car represented a real look back to the era of his youth when he would watch countless coupes and roadsters run the local streets till the early morning hours. Initially, Steve and the team at his shop brought the old gasser back to life with its snarling 406ci V-8 intact. After a few white-knuckle rides around town, a decision was made to bring the car to another level to include superior handling and ample braking, along with a big-inch injected Chevy mill for power.

With a number of fresh design elements in his mind, Steve enlisted the talents of Dave Vrankin of Forest Hill, Maryland, to take on the complete build. Once the car was torn down, Vrankin got busy by first establishing a rock-solid spine for the project to roll on. A call to Fatman Fabrications secured one of their stout rectangular tube chassis complete with matching center crossmember and body mounts. A Ford 9-inch rearend was then filled with 3.70:1 cogs and suspended in place by a polished stainless triangulated four-link along with an antiroll bar and Carrera coilover shocks soaking up the bumps. Wanting the car to handle like it was on ’rails, a Fatman polished stainless IFS was incorporated along with 2-inch dropped spindles, an antiroll bar, and Carrera coilover shocks. A power rack-and-pinion charts the course while fluid pushed through steel lines to a Corvette master cylinder brings the beast to a halt through Stainless Steel Brake Corporation’s Elite 11-inch turbo slotted rotors with matching calipers. Sticking the chassis to the road, a set of Colorado Custom 17-inch front and 18-inch rear Empire wheels shod with Goodyear Eagle rubber gets the job done with plenty of style.

Reminiscing back to the days of his youth when edgy hot rods ruled the scene, nothing said “street shaker” better than an injected big-block Chevy. To harness all the power needed for the build, a GM Performance 502ci Rat was called into service and treated to a number of go-fast goodies to give it even more ferocity. A GM crank, pistons, and aluminum heads combined with a Lunati stick set the pace while a Hilborn intake capped with a matching multi-port EFI sucks plenty of air. A FAST XFI engine management system tunes everything to perfection while an MSD ignition lights the fire and Hooker headers dump spent gases through a Vrankin-fabbed custom 2-1/2-inch stainless exhaust. For crisp shifts an ATI TH400 trans coupled to a Gear Vendors overdrive unit spins power to the pavement through a custom steel driveshaft.

When it came to breathing new life into Henry’s original steel, Vrankin started cutting and didn’t stop till he reached perfection. In working his magic, the body was channeled 3 inches, door bottoms and rear quarter-panel bottoms were extended 1-inch, rear inner wheelwells were widened 2-1/2 inches, door edges were rounded, and the firewall was recessed. Additional custom work included a one-piece windshield, Mercedes-Benz headlights, frenched taillights, and shaved door handles and bumpers. With all the fabrication completed, Vrankin massaged the body to perfection and laid down a lustrous coating of DuPont Hot Hues Midnight Tides vibe, bringing the car to life. Moving inside, Vrankin modified the bottom of the stock dash to accommodate a Vintage Air system. While Classic Instruments dials monitor the vitals, a Colorado Custom steering wheel linked to a Flaming River column handles the navigation. The final glamour came from Paul Atkins of Hanceville, Alabama, who stitched up a memorable business office awash in tan leather with complementary square weave carpeting and amazing attention to detail. The completed car has just the right combination of allure and attitude to make it a standout Street Shaker in any crowd.

Tech Tips

COMP Cams

Flat-Tappet Break-In Tip

Always remove inner springs when breaking in a flat-tappet camshaft to ensure cam and engine safety. After spending at least 30 minutes varying the engine rpm periodically from 2,000 to 2,500, put the inner springs back in.

FAST

Distributor Positioning

Always make sure that the module in your dual sync distributor is installed in the correct position for the crank reference angle that you are using. The module will need to be moved if you plan to use the 50-degree reference angle.

Inglese

Perfect Syncing

The four “inside” barrels are the most critical in the syncing process. In fact, your Weber carburetor system will work great even if there are small inconsistencies between the “inside” and “outside” stacks. As long as the four “inside” barrels are properly synced, your system will function perfectly.

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