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Bootlegger’s Dream: 1940 Ford Coupe

1940 Ford Coupe

If you were a bootlegger back in the ’40s, this 1940 Ford Standard Coupe would have been the kind of car you dreamed of owning. It had plenty of space for jars and bottles, was stealthy in the dark, but most importantly it had a flathead V8. If you know your bootlegging history, you know these outlaws tried to avoid authorities when possible, but were always prepared to outrun them if necessary. Of course it doesn’t take a criminal mind to appreciate this awesome coupe! Be sure to take a closer look at this survivor here on eBay or find it in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Ford Coupe Interior

For a 74 year old car, this Coupe is in impressive condition. Does it have issues? Of course, but how many of us won’t have a few dents and dings by the time we are 74? The fact that the paint is still shiny is absolutely amazing and is a testament to the quality of these old cars. Even the original interior is intact and complete. The biggest issue I see is the rust in the trunk floor and rear valence, but both could be replaced with minimal impact on originality. Whether these are fixed or not, I would recommend that the entire underside be coated with a rust converter and metal protectant.

1940 Ford Flathead V8

I don’t have much in common with bootleggers, but if we share one thing, it’s a need for speed! The flathead V8 isn’t a powerhouse by today’s standards, but when it came out it was an impressive machine that proved to have a lot of potential. With the proper modifications, this Coupe could have easily outran anything the local police had in their fleet. The combination of good looks and power made these coupes extremely popular in the hot rodding community as well, leaving few in original and unmolested condition. To find an untouched and unrestored example is almost unheard of these days, so hopefully the next owner of this one will keep it as original as possible.

1940 Ford Standard Coupe

This is the kind of project with limitless options. The next owner could leave it original and just enjoy it as a survivor, they could restore it, or they could turn it into a hot rod. If it were mine, I would keep the exterior as is, fix up the interior, add a few bolt on speed parts, and enjoy it as much as possible! You just can’t recreate the look of a lifetime on the farm! So if it were yours, what would you do with it? Would you drive it as-is, restore it, or hot rod it?


  1. Avatar photo MH

    Great car! I would drive as is.

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  2. Avatar photo MDchanic

    Nice car, I agree that I would drive it as-is, too.

    However, I can’t help noting that Prohibition ended in 1933.
    There were no bootleggers in 1940.
    Moonshiners (or, as we would say today, “home brewers”), sure, but not bootleggers.

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    • Avatar photo John

      Prohibition did end in 1933, but not in every state. In fact there are still quite a few dry counties in the South.

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    • Avatar photo 10dollarbill

      The state of Oklahoma was dry for whisky and wine until 1960 when it was repealed by a vote of the people. I remember bootleggers that would drive to Texas and Kansas to purchase bonded whisky and bootleg it back into Oklahoma to sell incognito to long time customers. Some Oklahoma counties are still dry for any kind of alcohol…..

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  3. Avatar photo Bruce Larson

    Maybe prohibition ended in 1933 but stories still abounded. I recall the 1958 movie “Thunder Road” with Robert Mitchum. Mitchum’s character drove a ’57 hot rod ford and his driving sure stimulated mine. I was 14 years old and my folks had a new 1957 Black and Gold Ford Fairlane 500. All my car memories start there.

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  4. Avatar photo jim s

    when i first saw the photo i thought of all the amt models of this car i built. but it is not a model, it is the real thing. i would love to have this but it is going to go for a lot of money, i think. i would make it safe and daily drive it ,but not at highway speeds. as for making it go faster, no i would not do that. take a look at the front and rear springs that run from side to side. great find.

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    • Avatar photo z1rider

      Those “…..front and rear springs that run from side to side.” are known as transverse leaf springs. Used on the Corvette at the introduction of IRS and many 50’s Grand Prix cars in combination with a DeDion rear suspension. Also all 289 Cobras, and others. It’s the live axles which are primitive but seemed to work just fine for runs at Bonneville. Transverse leaf springs have some advantages. Springs are the one component on a car that are both part of the sprung mass and unspring mass. In the case of transverse, the spring stack, which is bolted to the crossmembers is sprung. The ends which attach to the axles are unsprung. In a longitudinal setup the spring stack (two of them), are bolted to the axles adding to the unsprung mass. The goal is to reduce the unsprung mass, which when tires were skinny and ran very high pressures motivated engineers to design inboard brakes to reduce the unsprung mass which helped to keep the tires from bouncing off the road when hitting bumps.. Think rear brakes on an E-type Jag and 50’s era Mercedes grand prix cars. Nowadays with wider tires which can run lower pressures and, better tire hysteresis the brakes are back out in the hubs where the airflow is greater for keeping the brakes cool.

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  5. Avatar photo paul

    I guess it depends on where it ends up. As for me, I would reluctantly need to restore to original, looking at the trunk & underside in the humid climate I’m in it wouldn’t be long before it was dust.

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  6. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    If this was mine I’d likely do a proper restoration. Not concours quality but a nice driver. And I would DRIVE it. It’s down to the point where it needs some major work and there are so few of these left that it would be a shame to do anything but get it into proper condition, especially recovering those seats…! I’m sure glad that there’s an alternative for those who would want to take this and make a hot rod out of it. To that end I suggest that they head for Carpenter or Drake and buy a reproduction body complete. This is an artifact.

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  7. Avatar photo Dave

    I’ve seen a lot worse go for a lot more. If it were closer it would be next to the 1927 Essex you guys help me find.

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  8. Avatar photo Chris in WNC

    tidy up all the mechanicals and drive it as-is. maybe put in some new door panels & kick panels, but save the originals, and please oh please do not restore or rod this baby…….

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  9. Avatar photo Mark H

    Add me to the “drive it as is!” group. Too many rodded and way too many better than new already. Just drive it and enjoy every squeak, growl, and hiccup. And the sound of the flathead of course!

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  10. Avatar photo Rob Stevens

    I’ll go along with the ‘drive it’ guys, that is, as I look back a few decades. My ’40 Ford Pick-up was last licensed in ’63, I bought it in ’92, pulled her heart, ‘n had it re-built (w/Eldebrock goodies of course), then got busy with Life, fast forward a decade+, ‘n moved from CA to MT to retire, ‘n it’s still sitting.. *sigh*.. waiting.. for that ‘someday’ to come along, when I’ve the gumption..

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  11. Avatar photo Dolphin Member

    Now those kinds of curves I really like. The way that perfect ’40 Ford grille design flows into the body and the body flows over the top to the back end, finished off by a chevron tail light…. These business coupes sure have appeal. I also like the similar ’39 grilles, but to my eye the ’40 Ford looks the best of all.

    A ’40 Ford business coupe….limited rust….runs and drives…..no-reserve auction….under $10K (so far). What’s not to like? Only thing for me would be the interior. Dents are OK but I would want the office of my business coupe to be a tad more liveable. That and good running boards. But that said, I think there’s going to be a happy winning bidder at the end of this auction.

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  12. Avatar photo John E.

    I’d tow it, restore it, drive it.

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  13. Avatar photo John

    I didn’t think it possible for anything like this to be found. If it were mine I’d restore it and keep the original flathead but hop it up. It would be a shame to customize this survivor.

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  14. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    When the seller describes the interior as “very intact”, I gotta figure that one of us doesn’t know the meaning of the word “intact”.

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  15. Avatar photo Chris A.

    This design has Edsel Ford’s Art Deco styling input all over it. Just a great cool looking car inside and out. 1940’s muscle car for sure. I’d renovate all the running gear, electric and cooling systems and clean up the interior as best as possible. The big dents I’d carefully massage out as much as possible, but not repaint. Repair the rust areas and paint with rust preventer. Dolphin has the right idea with the running boards. It also looks like the left hand windshield glass and the split rear window have delaminated. Being a pre-WWII Ford means solid axles front and rear with mechanical brakes so handling and stopping from anything above 35 wouldn’t be much better than a Model A. That split glass rear window and rear body sweep just makes it for me. Needs one bullet hole like the BF Mustang and you could add $10K to the price. Tough but sexy car with all those curves. Compare it to the bottom of the page 1932 Ford Model 18 Flathead V8.

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    • Avatar photo yanmarley

      Chris A. – Fords went to juice brakes in 1939, and the seller mentions new brakes so that should not be a major concern, they work pretty well. I too would clean up the interior and engine a bit and drive it.

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    • Avatar photo Tim Moore

      The mechanical brakes with drums all around work just as good as hydraulic with discs if they are in proper working order. Most people buy an old beater, find the brakes worn out and switch to discs under the impression the drums won’t stop it. Dried out shoes and warped drums won’t work very well, but fresh components as original spec work equally well with less fade than drums. It’s a crime to swap to modern parts without giving the original setup a fair restoration.

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      • Avatar photo geomechs Member

        Actually mechanical brakes have an edge over hydraulic ones. Those old Fords had a tendency to break axles, which would allow the drum to slide out away from the brake shoes. Once that happens, you got no brakes. A mechanical system at least had one pair of brakes left to get you stopped.

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    • Avatar photo Skip

      Correction: the ’40 Ford had hydraulic brakes. I took the juice brakes off a junk yard ’40 and installed them on my ’32 coupe.

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    • Avatar photo Geo

      1940 Fords have hydraulic brakes. I’ve been building old Fords for
      fifty plus years.

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  16. Avatar photo The Chucker

    I’d do a driver level restoration, detail that flathead, and drive it! Then I’d fill the trunk with crates full of Mason jars…just for effect of course.

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  17. Avatar photo John

    We owned the 1939 version of this car when I was a kid. I had hoped to inherit it when I got my driver’s license, but it wound up living with a neighbor instead — my Dad sold it to him for $100. It ran perfectly, but I can never forget the smell of the inside of that car. I got to “soup” it up a bit. I got it a little chrome air cleaner and painted its cylinder heads red.

    Good to see one still alive.

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  18. Avatar photo Alan (Michigan)

    My all-time favorite base for a street rod.
    Must be a hold-over from 50 or so years ago, when I saw one in a small-format custom car magazine. Black with blue/green flames. Awesome.

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  19. Avatar photo William Henshaw

    Interesting comments, seems like most everyone wants to make this into a weekend driver. Nobody seems to want to restore it and the idea of making a street rod out of it makes most want to vomit. Obviously a lot of love for this iconic old Ford. I’ve seen a lot of restored examples and even more hot rods, which just shows how many survived. I love the body lines, they are perfectly proportioned, it’s beautiful from every angle. It runs, drives and stops which is a huge bonus. A few years back my cousin sold his non running coupe for 30k, it did have a rust free, dent free body with a very nice interior and it most likely only took a few hours and a trip to the auto parts store to get it running. Personally I kind of shy away from these cars, same for mid fifties Chevs, they have this strange aura surrounding them that is fired by nostalgia, which in time pushes the price beyond reality. I think it’s going to sell at a pretty high price, more than I think it’s worth. Besides I prefer the ’37 and ’38 Fords, same body with much more interesting grill designs, and nobody seems to care too much when you make a hot rod out of them. Good luck to the next owner.

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    • Avatar photo z1rider

      Actually the bodies of 37’s and 8’s are not the same. If you use Google images to enable views from many different angles you will see it. Look especially at the trunk/decklid. Also the rear windows of the 7/8 are steeper. Interestingly when THIS body style made it’s debut in 1939 you would get 38 front sheet metal in a Standard coupe, with the Deluxe getting the nearly identical front sheet metal and grille of this 40 Standard.

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      • Avatar photo William Henshaw

        I stand corrected, 39 & 40 have more of a flow from roof to trunk while 37 and 38 have a more distinct seperation from roof to trunk. You’ve got a good eye on you. That grill thing has always got me about this era of Ford. The ’40 grill I always remembered was more of a 3 piece with the center being chrome and the sides painted. This coupe has what I’d always considered a ’39 style.

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  20. Avatar photo Tim Moore

    This car was styled by bob Gregory, not Edsel ford. The grille is from a 41 sedan delivery or a deluxe, as it is chrome and should be painted on a standard coupe. The headlight doors are from a ’40 deluxe. But the extra chrome looks great and this car is a really nice survivor. Let’s hope whoever buys it will keep the flathead and not butcher it into a poorly executed hot rod like is the fate of most ’40 coupes.

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    • Avatar photo Alan (Michigan)

      There are plenty of generic and poorly done versions, I agree. But really, “most” is a stretch. Probably built with a repro body, this one is a street rod for taking corners, not just the stoplight grand prix: https://www.mecum.com/lot-detail.cfm?lot_id=AN1114-197760

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  21. Avatar photo Skip

    A school trip took me to the Ford production facility in the Hampton Roads area in the early 1950’s. They had a ’40 Ford bootlegger’s coupe on display with a Cadillac engine!

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  22. Avatar photo Charles

    Too nice to hot rod. Too rough not to restore. Restore it to original specs and enjoy it.

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  23. Avatar photo Ronny

    Robert Mitcham……Thunder Road…….first car he’s driving is a 1950 Ford…….coupe I believe @ Thats what I drive right now.

    Like 0

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