Bob Drake has come a long...
Bob Drake has come a long way since 1971 when he introduced his first product, glovebox liners for ’33-34 Fords. Today he offers over 5,000 products, including new steel ’40 Ford coupes.
For a number of years rumors have swirled around about a new ’40 Ford coupe body that was going to be produced. Some industry “experts” just knew it was coming out of an old MIG factory in the former Czech Republic, others were sure it was being built in South America, or maybe it was South Africa. In any case it wasn’t long before all the smart money was betting that Bob Drake was the man behind the project, even though no official statement had been made. The more savvy insiders concluded Drake was not about to announce the project until he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it could be delivered. Well the word’s officially out, the announcement has been made, and Drake is delivering. In fact he’s delivering a new steel ’40 Ford to Street Rodder magazine to be built by Hollywood Hot Rods as the 2012 Road Tour car.
The new ’40 is an astonishing...
The new ’40 is an astonishing accomplishment. Every part on this car is new with the exception of the vent window frames and garnish moldings, and they’re coming. Drake even repops the bug screen in the cowl vent.
Most enthusiasts understand Ford built two versions of the coupe in 1940, the Standard and DeLuxe. A number of differences set them apart—the Standard had a grille that looked similar to a ’39, the nose of the hood was slightly broader and it lacked the bulges low on the side that blended into the grille that were found on the DeLuxe. There were additional indicators inside and the Standard only had one taillight, but for the most part the differences between the Standard and DeLuxe are clear. What does cause confusion is the difference between an Opera Coupe and a Business Coupe—the fact is they are one in the same. The two versions of the coupe configuration in both Standard and DeLuxe trim are the five-window coupe and the Business Coupe.
Drake’s ’40 body is 99.9 percent...
Drake’s ’40 body is 99.9 percent original and we’re willing to bet Editor Brennan’s lunch money only a Ford fanatic could spot the one variation from stock. Can you? See the answer on page 104.
The reason for the misunderstanding is the five-window coupe came with a large package tray behind the seat that had storage space below while the Business Coupe came equipped with two sideways-facing jump seats in the rear; just the opposite of what would be expected. Eventually the public referred to the Business Coupe as the Opera Coupe, which really confused the issue. Now to add just one more designation: passenger cars in 1940 with the 60hp V-8 were model 022A; those with the 85hp V-8 were designated as 01A. Coupes with the 85hp engine would be designated as follows:
’40 Ford Standard five-window coupe, 01A-77A
’40 Ford Standard Business Coupe, 01A-67A
’40 Ford DeLuxe five-window coupe, 01A-77B
’40 Ford DeLuxe Business Coupe, 01A-67B
At press time the only parts...
At press time the only parts not in house were hoods. The DeLuxe style will be available first then the Standard. This car is equipped with a Standard grille.
If you’re wondering about the importance of all this it’s because of the difference in the floor pan between the five-window and the Business Coupe. Drake’s body is the five-window style and the jump seats won’t fit without modifications to the floor.
One look at the these new bodies and it’s obvious Drake has made every effort to duplicate what Ford produced in the manner it was done back then. However, there is one exception; when Ford stamped the roofs they were one piece, including the upper cowl section, windshield posts, and the top down to the trunklid opening. For a number of reasons Drake’s tops are made in four pieces, the upper cowl, windshield posts, and the top are stamped separately then welded together.
All the parts seen here: grille,...
All the parts seen here: grille, bumper, headlight assemblies, brackets, guards, and the fenders are available and are interchangeable with originals. Note the seams in the front of the fenders made necessary by the manufacturing process used—the originals did not have them but they are easily filled.
Although bodies are shipped from the factory fully assembled, Drake does stock all the individual sheetmetal components for those who have a ’40 coupe in need of repair. Everything from complete doors and quarter-panels to drip rails and glovebox doors (with and without clock openings) are available.
On the subject of options there are a number to choose from in individual parts and complete bodies. Stock and recessed firewalls are available, inner front panels are available stock or notched for IFS, and dashboards are available with the original cutouts for gauges, radio speaker and glovebox, glovebox only, no speaker cut out, and A/C outlets are an option in the original ashtray locations.
There’s no mistaking what...
There’s no mistaking what this car is from this angle, the only question is who made it? Again, note the seams between the tail pan and quarter-panels. Stockers had them but they were leaded at the factory; these will also require filler of some sort.
While the outside is certainly...
While the outside is certainly impressive, when you look inside the body you get a real feel for how many parts are required to make something like this from scratch, such as inner panels, reinforcements of all kinds, door latches and operating mechanisms, window regulators, and the list goes on.
Nothing has been overlooked...
Nothing has been overlooked up to and including the bracket on the body support that the spare tire attaches to. Reinforcement ribs in the floor and wheelhouses are the same as stock, as is the channel for the trunklid’s weather seal.
These are roof parts used...
These are roof parts used in the modeling process; they’re made of foam. Of all the main body parts, the roof is the only one made differently from the way Ford did it.
Looking at these fenders makes...
Looking at these fenders makes us wonder why anyone would spend time trying to bring thrashed originals back to life. Drake’s reproductions fit ’39 DeLuxe and all ’40 passenger cars.
Here is the very first coupe...
Here is the very first coupe body in the assembly jig (photo courtesy of Bob Drake). While these bodies are stamped and assembled offshore, Drake has had key staff members overseeing the operation since day one.
Replacement doorskins are...
Replacement doorskins are available, as are complete doors. Hinges, latches, window regulators, dovetails, and handles will also be found in Drake’s catalog.
Along with complete bodies,...
Along with complete bodies, Drake is offering individual parts to repair stock bodies, including floor pans and rocker sills. The floor pan is for the five-window coupe. It will fit the convertible and the Business Coupe with some modifications.
This is a stack of replacement...
This is a stack of replacement coupe roofskins. Original tops are often rusted where the rain gutters attach and under the rubber that holds in the windshield and rear windows.
Firewalls are offered in a...
Firewalls are offered in a variety of configurations; stock as shown here and with a 5-1/2-inch recess. (Photo courtesy of Bob Drake.)
Those who have tried to make...
Those who have tried to make a ’40 hood fit and operate correctly with worn-out hinges will appreciate Drake’s all-new assemblies. They’re available in black steel and polished stainless steel.
Trunklids come with the correct...
Trunklids come with the correct inner structure and captured nuts to attach stock-style hinges. Holes are drilled for the trunk handle, license plate bracket, and the emblem. For ’39s a few additional holes are required for the handle. (Photo courtesy of Bob Drake.)
Even the simplest parts of...
Even the simplest parts of a ’40 Ford had style as this elegant windshield wiper tower prove.
One of the most recognizable...
One of the most recognizable taillights ever, the ’40 Ford chevron, and one of Drakes earliest products, a locking gas cap.
With everything available to build a brand-new car, Drake makes the point that this is a great opportunity to build a ’40 as a second car. “The ’40 Ford coupe’s pure classic styling and all-weather driveability make it a perfect investment for practical, year-round family fun, or just driving to work,” Drake says. We agree; driving one of these every day would be a lot more fun than anything else we can think of. By combining the ’40s classic looks with modern chassis components and convenience accessories you’d have the best of old and new.
To see what it takes to build a reproduction ’40 stay with us as we build next year’s AMSOIL/Street Rodder Road Tour with a new Drake coupe.
Bob Drake’s new reproduction ’40 Ford body has been displayed at a variety of street rod events. Here are the questions the Drake staff are asked most often:
Street Rodder: What gauge metal is the body? Bob Drake: 19 gauge
SR: How much is the body, and what is included in this price?
BD: Our introductory price is $14,500. This includes the complete body shell, full floor, choice of firewall (stock or 5-inch recess), cowl, roof with rain gutters, quarter-panels, hinged doors and decklid, and all the inner structure and bracing, all assembled and welded in place.
SR: What frame do you recommend?
BD: We built our bodies to fit on original Ford frames. There are quality aftermarket frames available, but we have not tested them yet.
SR: How are the rain gutters attached?
BD: Just like the original ’40, sandwiched and spot-welded between the quarter-panel flanges and the roof flange.
SR: Is everything available aftermarket to complete the car?
BD: The only major sheetmetal piece left to complete the car is the hood. We have patterned the deluxe hood first and it will be in production soon, then we will begin the work on the standard hood.
SR: How do I title my car?
BD: Each state has laws concerning titles and registrations. You will have to check with your local DMV to file the appropriate paperwork.
SR: Are there sheetmetal pieces available to repair the coupe I already have?
BD: Yes, we make a full line of repair panels that are identical to the originals. Everything from floors to quarters to firewalls, you have all the correct shape and thickness to repair the coupe.
The left-hand door has been fitted with a lock cylinder mount, which the originals lacked. This way you can lock the door from the outside without having to use the inside handle and slide out the passenger side.