Model 40 Special Speedster

In 1932, Edsel Ford, son of Henry and then president of the Ford Motor Company, asked the brand's chief designer, E.T. "Bob" Gregorie, to create a personal sports car, similar to the ones he had seen on his European trip. It should be small, light and convey the real pleasure of driving.

After seeing Edsel's disappointment with the first model, Gregorie turned back to the drawing boards in order to make his boss's wish come true. In 1934 he presented the Model 40 Special Speedster.

From a coupe 1934 Ford (known as Model 40), built a "continental" roadster. The chassis was radically altered to create something completely different from what Ford had made up until then.

The wheelbase was maintained almost unchanged (gained only 26 mm). Despite this, it looks bigger and smaller than the original car, mainly due to the lowering of the chassis and the "drive" of the cockpit towards the rear wedge-shaped.

Gregorie, Lincoln's supervisor Robbie Robinson, and Ford Aircraft's brand aviation division team developed a roadster body made of aluminum plates attached to a welded aluminum tubular frame that served as a structure. The hand-held fenders had a curious history: for some time they were believed to be modified versions of the existing Ford Trimotor, a version denied by Ford Aircraft itself.

To push the Speedster's 952 kilos, a Ford V8 engine was initially installed, which produced 75 hp, derived from a 1934 coupe. In the winter of 1939 the block cracked and the output was to replace the power package with a 239-inch Mercury 09A V8 Cubic, capable of producing 101 hp. The direct exhaust was built into the body to reduce the aerodynamic effect.

To correct an overheating problem, the original two-part grille gave way in 1940 to two smaller and more vertical air intakes just above the front extension with another horizontal inlet. This new configuration allowed the installation of the radiator without the need to tilt it and had an influence on the design of the Lincoln Zephyr, also created by Gregorie. The headlamps placed in front of the front axle ensure visibility to the driver.
Despite this change, the clean design pleased and the color called Pearl Essence Gunmetal Dark fell like a glove.

The interior received special attention. Despite the nonexistent luxury, the neat finish jumps to the eye. The seats were covered in gray leather and the aluminum sheet panel won Lincoln instruments. For convenience, a button triggered the game. After the change in the front the Speedster received a new speedometer, that arrived at 160 mph (about 200 km / h) and Stewart-Warner instruments.

Three years after it was ready, Edsel Ford passed away. Since then the car has gone through several owners accumulating modifications:

After his death in May, the $ 200 Speedster was passed to his wife, Eleanor Clay Ford.

It is believed to have been sold, probably at the end of 1944, to a buyer in Atlanta for $ 1,000.

Sent to Los Angeles, he was kept in a garage.

A classified ad in the May issue of Road & Track magazine contained the following text:

Specially built Ford chassis. Aluminum body built for Edsel Ford. Now equipped with special Mercury engine. Reasonable price of $ 2,500. COACHCRAFT CO., LTD, 8671 Melrose Ave.

In black and white photos, the car appeared to be painted black or red and there was a radio antenna over the hood. The Mercury engine had been modified with a Thickstun dual intake manifold for carburetor, a "brave" valve control and Edelbrock high compression heads.

He appeared in Auto Sport magazine, photographed in Hollywood with an aspiring actress named Lynn Bari.

Taken or transported back to Georgia.

Registered in Florida as a Custom Ford Speedster 1940. Sold for $ 603 to John Pallasch, an American sailor. It was painted red and had the upholstery replaced by leather dyed red too, probably for an appearance in a Hollywood movie. The movie was not found.

Pallasch partially dismantled the engine to rebuild it. Before he could do this he was sent to Vietnam, and after his return, the engine had been seized.

Bill Warner, founder of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, bought Pallasch's Speedster. According to Warner, "The Speedster was standing in the Pallasch garage, covered with garbage cans and tin, so no one could know that it was there.The speedometer was just over 19,000 miles."

On his way back to Amelia Island, Bob Warner visited Gregorie who was 91 years old and residing in St. Augustine, Florida. Warner reported that Mr. Gregorie left his house, smiled and said, "I have not seen him since 1940. He still looks very good for his age." According to Warner, Gregorie confirmed that the Speedster was originally dark gray with gray leather upholstery. He also commented that the Speedster "looked really good in red."

Warner had considered a complete car restoration for the Speedster's first interaction, but decided to preserve his appearance. Renewed the paint and rebuilt the engine, keeping the Thickstun intake manifold and removing the Edelbrock heads.

In March, Warner sold the Speedster at an auction at Amelia Island for $ 1.76 million for Texas collector John O'Quinn. Following O'Quinn's untimely death in 2009, Edsel Ford II, bought the Speedster for the permanent exhibition Edsel & Eleanor Ford Estate.

In August, Edsel & Eleanor Ford House sent the Speedster to RM Restorations in Blenheim, Ontario (Canada), where it was closely scrutinized, thoroughly photographed and then carefully dismantled thoroughly.

The restored Model 40 Special Speedster was unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 19, 2011.

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