1940 Ford, excerpt from ad below. Image courtesy of Lov2XLR8.no.
[Editor’s note: This “Reminiscing” story, edited by Richard Lentinello, comes to us from Hemmings Classic Car reader Thomas Murphy.]
One memory that I will never forget is about my father’s 1940 Ford Opera Coupe. It had the jump seats in the rear which, when not in use, folded up parallel to the sides of the rear compartment. Back in 1950, those jump seats were usually occupied by my brother and I; I was just five years old at the time.
My father was one of the original hot-rodders. The Ford had a flathead truck V-8 block which was bored out – apparently truck blocks allowed for thicker cylinder walls for purposes of over boring. The engine was equipped with a 3/4 racing camshaft, high compression Granatelli aluminum cylinder heads, a four-barrrel carburetor, exhaust headers and dual exhausts and Lincoln Zephyr gears for the second gear.
That old Ford would wind out to 90 miles per hour in second gear before shifting to third was required due to those Zephyr gears. There was not much on the street in 1950 that would touch it. The Ford looked stock, being a black 1940 Deluxe Coupe. Only two rusty exhaust pipes sticking out the rear belied it was not stock.
One day we were on a touring vacation in Canada in the Fall of 1950. We were stopped on a gravel road which had an overhead stop light hanging from a wire traversing the intersection on a four-lane road. What pulled alongside us at the light was a brand-spanking new Powder Blue Oldsmobile “Rocket 88” fastback coupe. The Olds still had the price and equipment sticker on the rear-side window. When I looked over from my jump seat out the side rear window of the Ford, the driver of the Olds was smiling like a Cheshire cat and glancing at his buddy in the passenger seat, while revving the Oldsmobile’s engine.
When the light changed, my father, who was never one to ignore a challenge for a race, took off. From the light we were side by side with the Oldsmobile. In First gear we were fender to fender, and the Olds owner was looking a bit quizzical at our evenness. Bear in mind that the loser of this gambit would be eating the winner’s dust from the gravel road. In Second gear I remember the Ford winding out to 90 miles per hour, and it ended up two car lengths ahead of the now vanishing Olds when the shift to Third gear occurred.
So much for the much-heralded Rocket 88 Oldsmobile. That ’40 Ford was fast!