Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Last of Ken's Cool Cars - '47 Ford Coupe

The last "cool" car I owned was this '47 Ford coupe, purchased around 1967 from a guy in Smithtown, Long Island. I had always liked this model and, when I saw it advertised in the Selling Post for $200, I had to buy it. (Click on any image to enlarge.)

It had been sitting for a long time but the body was in really nice shape. There was a gallon of water in the crankcase when I initially looked at it but I didn't care; that old flathead wasn't going to stay in there for very long.

I rented a tow hitch and towed it some 4o miles back to Elmont. I drained the water from the crankcase, put in a new battery, and the damn thing ran great for many months–until I decided what I was going to put under the hood.

My goal was to keep the car looking relatively stock but improve the driveline, suspension, and appointments so it would be a dependable, everyday driver, capable of going anywhere.

I left the body nearly stock, removing only the top hood ornament and filling the holes. I replaced several pieces of chrome and the gravel guards on the rear fenders with new old stock or replacement parts from Joblet Automotive (the Ford specialists), in Queens Village.

I had it painted a blueish-green; I think it was a GM color but can't remember the name. After these photos were taken, I had the hood louvered by Henny's Welding, in Jamaica, New York. When I drove over there and told them what I wanted, they had to move a ton of crap to get at their louver punching press; it had been a long time since anyone had asked for a louvered hood and it was buried!

I worked at a Chevy dealer at the time and acquired a 327 cubic inch block from a '67 Corvette; I then located heads, manifolds, and everything else I needed over a few months time, and assembled everything. I put a Turbo Hydromatic transmission behind it, and installed a '56 Chevy rear end assembly, including brakes, with matching leaf springs. When I initially built the engine, I installed a racing cam but found it was too hairy for street use with an automatic, so I swapped it out for a tamer cam with hydraulic lifters after a few months.

I installed a Ford Econoline front axle assembly, including brakes, with leaf springs and a steering damper like they have on Jeep Wranglers; 15 inch wheels were used all around. I rewired the car and converted it to 12 volts. The engine ran really well with just a four-barrel carb and a Stewart-Warner electric fuel pump mounted by the tank.

I used black leather bucket seats in front but can't remember what they came out of. The back seat and door panels were reupholstered with black vinyl, and a new black carpet installed with soundproofing under it. A nice stereo unit was added, and I fabricated an air-conditioning system using parts from a '65 Chevy and an aftermarket kit; the evaporator was mounted right behind the glove box door. I hand-made the ductwork that fit under the dash from sheet aluminum. That sucker got so cold, it spit ice-cubes out at times!

This was probably the car I owned the longest: about 5 or 6 years. After putting it up for sale, I sold it to the first guy who came to look at it, around 1973.


Karl-Erik said...

So you practically invented the "soft rod" movement that got big about 15 years later...? ;-)

It is a great-looking car! Too bad you couldn't keep it. It sure would have been nice to have around today! (You should try to track it down.)

Mike T said...


I just came across this blog about your '47 Ford.
My dad Mike Tufano worked for Henny's Welding in the early to mid '60's. He was a body man.
He had a '46 Ford convertible then a black '56 Ford Victoria that he louvered the hood. Dad would take my brother and I there to sit in the dragsters. I still drag race. Enjoyed your Blog.

Mike Tufano

Ken B said...

Hey, Mike! Thanks for those memories. -Ken