Photo via The Henry Ford.
As mentioned in our recent post on Edsel Ford’s first V-8 speedster, a number of other significant cars came after it, including the 1934 Model 40 Speedster – the one that seemingly everybody has seen by now – and the so-called 1935 Special Sports – the one that seemingly nobody has seen in more than six decades.
Built, according to the Farrells, to develop Edsel Ford and Bob Gregorie’s ideas on how to create a longer and lower version out of the stock Ford passenger car chassis, the Special Sports wasn’t intended to serve as a design showcase like the previous two speedsters. Rather, Ford and Gregorie believed that if they sorted out and proved the chassis, they could easily find a coachbuilder to craft bodies for it. So even though the body looked like the product of a great deal of effort, Ford and Gregorie considered it little more than a temporary placeholder necessary only to get the speedster on the road.
Photo via The Henry Ford.
Briefly, domestic coachbuilders passed on it, but Ford and Gregorie eventually found a firm in England – Jensen Motors Limited – willing to take on the project. From 1936 to 1939, Jensen built several dozen speedsters in a configuration not dissimilar to Ford and Gregorie’s mule, using essentially the same chassis that Gregorie worked out for the third Edsel Ford speedster.
But calling it an Edsel Ford speedster is a bit of a misnomer. Ford had a hand in its development and in the creation of the Jensen 3 1/2 Litre that followed, but as the Farrells wrote, Ford gifted it to Gregorie not long after Gregorie finished it (and after Gregorie drove it through a snowstorm to meet with New York-based coachbuilder Brewster). Several years later Gregorie sold it to a friend on Long Island, and it only reappeared once, in 1952, on a used car lot in Burbank, California. ‘The 1935 Special Sports had been repainted in a two-tone color scheme, and the body had been mildly customized by adding a LaSalle grille and a Carson padded top,” the Farrells reported.
Photo by Richard Kelly.
After that, it disappeared. We’d say it disappeared for good, but even the most well-informed Ford researchers long believed the first Edsel Ford speedster was gone for good and now it’s for sale with a million-dollar-plus price tag. Could it still be out there somewhere, waiting for a restoration and reunion with the other two Edsel Ford speedsters? Or was that used car lot in Burbank its last stop before going to the crusher?
While we’re at it, we also recall that Tom McCahill’s proposal of his ideal car followed the same lines as the third Edsel Ford speedster – long and low with European sports car styling atop an American chassis with American power. This was in the Fifties sometime, we believe (our Mechanix Illustrated collection’s currently in storage), but it’s entirely conceivable McCahill derived some inspiration from Ford and Gregorie’s ideas.