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1940 Ford Three-Window Coupe

Chuck Most

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The Johnson brothers had had a blast building their "Hay Fever" '34 Ford pickup, and the custom car bug had hit hard. It was 1962, and Ike Johnson was about to get his driver's licence. While older brother Roger had every intention of building a new hot rod and tossing the keys to Hay Fever to Ike, the younger brother had other plans.

Catch Hay Fever here if you're so inclined... 

A '34 Ford at a nearby farm called out to him. Well... to be accurate, it was more of a pile of parts that used to be a '34 Ford. Two coupe bodies (one three window and one five window), a complete chassis, and a (seized) Flathead V8, along with other various doodads. Sadly, he and the owner couldn't quite get a deal working, and so Ike sought out alternatives. He really wanted a three-window Ford coupe, and the '34 would have been a nice starting point. Ford three-windows were still fairly common in his little Michigan town, but the people who owned them tended to want to hang onto them. The ones that ended up on used car lots or for sale tended to be thoroughly clapped out and were quickly snapped up by local dirt track guys. Heck... the dirt track guys even managed to snap up the nicely preserved ones too. Still, Ike spent the better part of a year searching and tire kicking. After a deal fell through on a somewhat rough '36 Ford Deluxe three window, Ike was down but not out. Ike had always thought that the 1940 Ford would have looked good as a three-window, and since there was a '40 DeLuxe five-window on the "as-is" dirt lot at G.R. Wilson Ford... and with a little subtle prodding from big brother Roger... Ike thought he'd give it a try.  Though the '40 was covered in dings and dents, and the engine block was a roadmap of poorly brazed cracks, Ike figured the car would at least run and drive long enough to make the 12 mile trip from the dealership to the makeshift shop. And it did. Though there were a couple of times where things started looking sketchy... 

The project started, naturally, at the top. The five window's roof was cut away, and about three and a half inches were cut out of the posts. The door openings were stretched and longer doors from a '40 Tudor sedan were fitted, and chopped to match. The brothers then reworked and reshaped the roof until they had the sleek '40 three-window that Ford had never produced. 

As Ike mapped out what else he wanted to do with the bodywork, the brothers moved on to the chassis. The car was lowered around four inches by the brothers' patented "removing a few leaves and farting around with springs and crossmembers" method. Ike thought of sticking in a fresh Flathead, but he really wanted a more modern power plant. A 1958 Lincoln 430 was sourced and fitted to the '40's transmission with a bellhousing adaptor fabricated by Roger. The boy's father Ed actually helped out on this project, when he made new engine mounts to fit the burly MEL big block into the '40 frame. Ed still didn't "get" what his boys were up to, but it looked like they were having fun doing whatever the hell it was they were doing, so he thought he'd join in. Even if for no other reason than to show the boys his support. 

Ike ultimately decided that other than the conversion to a chopped three window roof, he wanted to keep the rest of the car close to stock. The bumpers were shaved, '41 Chevrolet tail lights were mounted vertically, and the hood was smoothed. All of the trim and handles were shaved, and the car was coated in Emerald Green metallic paint, with the engine and wheels painted gold. The interior was kept mostly stock, but color keyed to the exterior.

Ike spent the next couple of years cruising the old Ford across the lower peninsula, and taking to shows. Like Hay Fever, Ike's nameless '40 was featured in Saginaw-based "Wheels" magazine. The old Ford served Ike faithfully for two years before he sold it. The car went through a series of owners, but it basically just as you see it now since 1962, and has been kept up and occasionally refreshed by subsequent owners. 


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