16 May 2012

Johnny's 40 Ford

This just in [FINALLY! ] from my friend John...
You'd think a guy whose been your best friend since the age of 13 could be a bit more punctual...   ;)


"I had been driving my Dad's old gold 67 Ford pickup, on the days that I wasn't riding my Yamaha XS650, ever since I got my license 4 months earlier. In that pre internet time, I had been scouring the local paper and the Bargain Post daily for a car. I really wanted a 36 Ford coupe, but those were scarce even then and were already getting pretty expensive. And most were junk.
I found an ad for a 36 Dodge coupe located in a semi-rural suburb and called. The car sounded perfect - flamed with a built 440 Chrysler and pushbutton TorqueFlite, riding on real Halibrands. The price wasn't TOO far out of reach, so I made an appointment with the guy for my Dad and I to come see and test drive the Dodge.
We pulled up to the guy's house and it was love at first sight. I tried to contain my enthusiasm as Dad talked to the guy and walked around "kicking the tires". We looked it up one side, down the other, over the top and under the bottom. The car was great.
After what seemed an interminable wait, we got in the car to test drive it. I pulled out of the seller's drive slowly and discreetly, feathering the throttle with the lightest touch I could muster, being sure to look both ways and signal. We drove out of the neighborhood and over some arterial streets until we came to a fairly open stretch of road. Whilst rolling down the pavement, envisioning myself cruising in this flaming chariot of steel, Dad interrupted my thoughts with "Mash the throttle son."
"Huh?"
"Step on it."
Knowing his reasoning, I just dipped my toe in the secondaries as lightly as I knew how, but still hoping that the forward rush provided would suffice. It didn't. Somehow he knew I had feather footed it.
"Get on it boy!" Dad demanded. So I stuck my waffle stomper boot firmly on the Moon gas pedal and tagged the firewall.  The TorqueFlite dropped down, the secondaries gaped open, the sidepipes roared and the car jumped sideways as the rear tires turned to haze.
"Turn around and take it back"  Dad ordered in a deadpan tone.
Supremely dejected, I handed the keys to the Mopar back to it's owner, crawled in the van with Dad and headed for home.
While we were discussing what would constitute an 'acceptable' first car, Dad made mention of a 40 Ford coupe an acquaintance had told him about. The car was supposedly in very good condition, but the gauges didn't work and the owner was getting frustrated as the car kept burning up generators and giving electrical problems. Dad opined that at the right price, we certainly should be able to fix whatever might be wrong, so we went to look at the car.
We pulled in to the owners driveway and there it sat ; a 1940 Ford Standard coupe. The car was a dark grey metallic with black rolled and pleated interior. A SouthWind heater was installed in the passenger side floorboard. It sat on steelies with hubcaps, and looked pretty nice. Certainly not the fire breathing flamed Dodge I had so hoped for earlier, but a nice car anyway.
The guy told us it had a 59AB flathead from a 48 model in it and the standard, non synchro 3 speed transmission with a stock rear end. I looked around while dad and the seller discussed the car's problems.The guy was extremely frustrated with the car and obviously had given up, just wanting it out of his hair.
We got the car for $2200 dollars by a 30 second margin. Right as my father was handing the guy our check, another person drove up and offered the guy 3000 before he even got out of the car. But the deal was done.
Dad had looked the car over fairly thoroughly and had seen the problem pretty quickly ; He knew enough to know that the car was a 6 volt system that was positive ground. The owner had the cables on backwards like a more modern car would be, and was fouling up the electrical system. We switched the cables and not only did the gauges suddenly function normally, but we never had any more electrical issues as long as I owned the car.
There was ONE small problem though...I had never driven a non synchronised transmission before, nor had I driven anything with 'three on the tree'. Dad reminded me that I was the guy who wanted the old car, and he, being  who he was, simply said "It's your car. DRIVE IT!"

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