One of the most cherished and collected classic cars of the pre-World War II and hot rod era - the iconic 1940 Ford Coupe - is the latest addition to Ford Motor Company's growing stable of officially licensed all-steel reproduction car bodies.
Available now for ordering, and complementing the 1965-70 Mustang bodies, the 1940 Ford Coupe body is also constructed of modern, high-strength steel and is assembled using modern welding techniques. The new body comes rustproofed from the factory and is ready to be assembled as a custom hot rod or as a faithful tribute to the original.
At the upcoming Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Ford will display a custom 1940 Ford hot rod built using a reproduction body and a new bare body shell that demonstrates the high-quality construction. Prices start at $11,900 plus shipping. The full body shell as well as individual steel panels are available through Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts, www.dennis-carpenter.com.
The fully built, copper-colored SEMA show car sports a new 5.0-liter V8 engine, four-speed automatic transmission and Mustang II front suspension. The roof has also been chopped or lowered to give the car an even meaner look.
"Like its older 1932 Deuce Coupe and younger Mustang siblings, the 1940 Ford is a bodystyle and design that represents Ford at its best," said Dennis Mondrach, Ford Restoration Parts licensing manager. "The 1940 Ford Coupe has always been highly sought after and collectible. Unfortunately, good, solid restorable examples have become hard to find and expensive, so this faithful reproduction is bound to prove popular."
The '40 Ford: Part of American culture
The 1940 Ford has had a major influence on post-World War II America, said Detroit automotive historian Joe Cabadas, author of "'40 Ford: Evolution * Design * Racing * Hot Rodding."
"Bootleggers down south always wanted to know who had the fastest car," said Cabadas. "Because of its lightweight V8 engine, they started racing them on Sundays, and that is the beginning of stock car racing."
After World War II, the 1940 Ford was at the forefront of another major cultural movement - hot rodding. The '40 Ford got noticed by World War II veterans, who began buying up the cars and turning them into hot rods by adding performance equipment to the car's flathead V8 engine.
The 1940 Ford has been a fixture in Hollywood, appearing in countless TV shows and movies such as "American Graffiti," "Bugsy" and "Mulholland Drive."
"With their big fenders and integrated headlights, the 1937-40 Ford was one of the first streamlined cars from Ford Motor Company," Cabadas said. "Edsel Ford had a hand in its style. He wanted a family look for Ford and Lincoln vehicles, and so you can see some Lincoln Zephyr in it. The 1940 was also one of the few cars in its price class with a V8."
Reproduction body: A blank canvas
Hobbyists looking to build a hot rod using the new 1940 body are limited only by their imagination and budget. The new body is available with a stock firewall that accommodates the original flathead V8. However, for those looking for greater performance from a modern powertrain, the new 1940 Ford body can alternatively be ordered with a recessed firewall that will allow much larger modern engines to be installed.
As with the officially licensed reproduction parts available for the 1965-70 Mustang bodies, Ford also supports the 1940 Ford with an array of correct mechanical and trim restoration parts. To see what is available for the 1940, visit www.fordrestorationparts.com.
Dennis Carpenter, owner of one of the nation's largest classic Ford restoration parts companies, owes his start in the business more than 40 years ago to the 1940 Ford.
Carpenter was having trouble locating a good used set of dash knobs for a car he was restoring - and still owns - so he approached Ford and obtained permission to reproduce the knobs using original factory blueprints and designs. Today his company, Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts, produces many Ford-licensed parts for the 1940 Ford. With the body now back in production, Carpenter is gearing up to add even more trim parts for the car.
"When you see a beautifully restored 1940 Ford, it is like a piece of jewelry," Carpenter said. "People just really love the lines of that car. It is timeless and appeals to all ages."