All Business? 1939 Ford Coupe Project

I’ve seen a couple of late 1930s or 1940 model Ford Coupes appear in recent times, and although the owner doesn’t actually say so, I believe that this particular car may have started life as a Business Coupe. Apart from a really good dose of surface corrosion, actual penetrating rust or rot is in fairly short supply, so this might be a pretty decent prospect for restoration. The great old Coupe is located in Dallas, Texas, and is listed for sale here on eBay.

This shot of the trunk shows what appears to be the worst of the rust, down in the floor at the back edge of the trunk. As I said, the car really does have a great coating of surface corrosion both top and bottom, but the photos of the underside of the car indicate that the frame and floors are solid. There is obviously some external trim and some glass that isn’t fitted to the car, but in the really great catalog of photos provided by the seller, all of those parts appear to be present.

As is expected, under the hood is the venerable flat-head V8 engine, and this is backed by a 3-speed manual transmission. Normally the engine would be the 221ci version, but the owner refers to it as “the bigger motor,” which I take to mean that this is either the 90hp version of the 221ci engine, or it is actually the 239ci engine. The engine doesn’t run, but it does turn freely. The physical condition of the engine looks pretty reasonable, and while one water cooling inlet is uncovered, I’m glad to not only see the other one covered but that someone has taken the trouble to fit what looks like a blanking plate over the intake to stop foreign objects finding their way into the engine.

The interior is basically complete, as any objects or components not actually fitted to the car seem to be present in the various photos of parts and pieces that are included in the sale. The seat is also present, but I’m not completely sure whether it is the original item. The reason that I say this is that the trunk appears to have the access hatch between it and the cabin, as you would normally find on a Business Coupe. However, I was sure that the seat in the Business Coupe had a split back-rest so that the driver could fold the passenger side forward to access the hatch without leaving the car. Hopefully, one of our Barn Finds readers can correct this for me if I’m wrong.

Compared to some of the Ford Coupe project cars from this era that have surfaced lately, this particular car seems to have a lot of potential. It is still going to require a frame-off process, regardless of what pathway the new owner chooses to follow with the car. The fact that it appears to be largely complete and solid is a huge plus. The owner has set a BIN price of $8,995 for this old Ford. Compared to some of the examples that we’ve seen recently, how do you think that this one stacks up?

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  1. Will Fox

    While I can’t speak for the BIN price, this rare `39 standard is WELL worth restoration!! Very solid considering, and it appears fairly complete. The best part is, PLENTY of restoration parts are available for these. The `39 standard is essentially a carry-over `37-`38 body, and a number of sources offer all kinds of needed items for these. I wouldn’t street-rod this; I’d restore it to factory specs but hey–that’s me. It’s just too solid not to. The business coupe would have a pkg. shelf instead of a back seat, with the flip-down access panel to the trunk. People that can help are in the hundreds via the Flathead Ford V8 Club’s various chapters with a wealth of information for the builder. Wish I had the money & resources. I’d snatch this in a minute!

    • z1rider

      Will, all good observations but I want to clarify one thing. The front clip is carry-over from 38 but the rest of the body is 39-40 all the way. Look at the trunk lid of this coupe, which spanns the entire width of the rear of the body and compare to the trunk lid of a 37-38 coupe, which had a much smaller opening and deck lid. The 39-40 standard and deluxe’s used the same body shell from the firewall back.

  2. jcs

    Adam, in his description of the car, the seller mentions that it originally came with the 60 HP version of the V8. The engine in the car appears to be the 221 CI engine and not the 239 CI which would mean that it is either the 85 or 90 HP.

    • azd

      Another clue is the narrow wheels. Cars with the 60HP V8 had skinnier rims. Of course those could have been changed over the years, but maybe not. V8-60 wheels are popular for fronts on hot rods with big-and-little tire combos.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        The wheels on this car are newer (‘40-‘’48). The ‘39 had the same wide bolt pattern that was on the ‘36-‘38 models.

      • azd

        D’oh!, geomechs you’re right. I should have caught the missing wide-five wheels. Still true that the V8-60 had narrower rims (3.5″ I think) but the cards are out of order here…

  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    I like what I see. Lots of parts to get a good head start on the restoration. There were (2) engines available in the Ford cars: the V8-60, which was better suited to midget-racers and small boats, and the V8-85 which, as Adam said, was a 221. 1939 was the year that Mercury was introduced. It was powered by a 239 engine. The 239 was also available in the larger Ford trucks. If you run across an original ‘39 engine, the Ford unit will have a ‘91A’ cast into the heads and the Mercury engine will have a ‘99A.’ I only saw the casting numbers on ‘38 (81A) and ‘39 engines. When the 59A/59AB came out they had the numbers cast in again.

    Another interesting tidbit of information: Starting some time in the 40 production year (maybe even the ‘41), Ford streamlined its production lines (probably because war production was already on) and produced only the 239 block. The Ford engine got sleeved down to 221. I first thought that this was an isolated case but then, I ran across a couple more. I spoke to an old Ford mechanic who confirmed it. Now I thought that complicated things; why not just make them all 239 CID and leave it that way? And Ford finally did—in’45.

  4. Dusty

    Wish I had the $$$, looks like a good project car!

  5. stillrunners

    Pete must have bought out a barn full along with the Model A’s that have been posted on here ! Not a bad builder and the seat on 1939’s should have lifted up from the bottom as there really wasn’t a back seat until the 1940’s coupe’s jump seats.

  6. David Ulrey

    I know this will annoy some people but I’d love to cosmetically restore it with a few nods to some not as old touches underneath. Nothing too extreme. Here’s the part that will annoy or perhaps shock some people – I’d like fit a 352 FE under the hood. Not bigger inches, just a good old freshly rebuilt 352. Of course put an aluminum intake on it to shave off a few hundred pounds. Lol

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