Olds Rocket Powered: 1939 Ford Tudor Deluxe

This dusty ’39 Ford has been in storage for 60 years! Heck, it hasn’t even been cleaned for 60 years. That might not be a good thing but this one is interesting because there’s a nice surprise under the hood! It’s located in Frankfort, Illinois, and is listed for sale here on craigslist for $8,000. A special thank you goes to Barn Finds reader Ikey H for sending in the tip!

At first, I wasn’t too excited about this old Ford but after looking at it closer, I want it badly! If the story is true, this is quite a find. The seller claims that it has been in storage for 60 years and they have owned it for 40 of those. That means it may have been hot-rodded in the sixties or earlier! The interior could use a good cleaning but it looks original.

Things under the hood are a different story though! Where the flathead V8 had once been, there’s an Oldsmobile Rocket V8! The Olds engine was popular among hot rodders and this one appears to be a 303 which would have been built between 1949-1953. The seller claims that the car was made driveable five years ago, but that it has been parked again for the last three.

The only external hints that this Ford has been upgraded are the side-exit exhaust and red grill. I’d probably leave the exhaust alone but would try to source an original grill. Someone went a little wild with the rattle can and for overspray all over the front fenders. So, I would want to clean that up while doing the much-needed detail job. If this one were closer, it would already be in my garage!

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  1. Steve R

    Normally I think sellers should clean up their cars before listing them for sale. This is a rare exception, because it was made into a Hot Rod decades ago it would actually be interesting to see in its “as found” condition at one, maybe two shows. After that clean it up and detail it as best as possible.

    It’s priced right if there isn’t hidden rust, it should sell quickly.

    Steve R

    Like 5
  2. PaulG

    If its as good as the pictures show, I’d call this the deal of the day!

    Like 12
  3. Dave

    Looks like a prairie shine runner to me.

    Like 8
    • Mike

      If it has the truck springs in the back you’re probably right.

  4. Kenneth Carney

    Great find! Reminds me of the 1939/40
    Ford car kits made by AMT in the late ’50s. Their kits depicted this same engine layout as shown here. Only
    difference was that the model car version of this engine sported a J2
    3 deuce manifold on top. To me, it
    would be like riding in a real life version
    of that model car.

    Like 7
    • 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

      Built many of the AMT 3in1 kits in the early 60s. Still have boxes full of them. This pair was scored at a garage sale in the mid 70s. Some Mom cleaned her basement of her hot rod son’s collection, I got 60-70 models and a bunch of promos.
      The ’39-’40 was one of my favorites as my older brother had 2 ’40 Ford sedans, one Standard and one Deluxe. My first driving experience, at about the age of 10 was in the Standard sedan. Lots of good memories. I’d leave this ’39 pretty much as is – make it safe and drive the wheels off.

      Like 2
      • 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

        Sorry about the upside down photo. Let’s try again

        Like 11
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I had those same kits but I built them stock. Not much imagination for me…

        Like 1
  5. jerry z

    I’d buy that in a heartbeat if I could afford it!

    Like 7
  6. Will Fox

    A great candidate for a resto-mod!! Externally, I’d make it look basically stock; period-correct whitewall radial cokers, I’d paint it in a cream color. But under the hood I’d have that Olds 303 V8 worked over to run in tip-top shape, and update the interior. Except for a pair of duals sticking out the back, it could be a real sleeper at shows!

    Like 2
  7. HC

    What a find! Especially since as said it was hotrodded in the 50s or 60s. Fair price and it wont be around long.

    Like 5
  8. TMK

    I also would buy it in a heart beat. Clean it up ,up grade the brakes and rear end. than sand it down and give it a Matte paint finish.

    Like 1

    wow just look at the styling ford had beautiful looks.me i’d put it back to the beauty it was and clean up the inside . just beautiful car.

    Like 5
  10. Joe Haska

    An interesting history, which from the photos and the car, I would believe it to be factual. Probably put together, before the discovery and availability, of the SBC. I would also say 8K is probably a fair price for buyer and seller.

    Like 4
  11. Dave Mathers

    There were a lot of Olds Rocket engines available back ‘in the day’. They were cheaper to buy than a small block Chev so lots of them ended up as hot rod transplants. And a guy might start with a 303 then upgrade to a 324, a 371 or even a 394. BIG torque from all of them.

    Like 4
  12. JagManBill

    Agree on the show it as is a few times, then clean up the over spray, buff it out then leave it be. THIS folks, is what “patina” is all about

    Like 3
  13. James S S Oliver Sr

    Great ! I had Both, a 1939 Black Tudor Sedan AND 1950 OLDS Sedan, 2nd year of the Famous Rocket 88 Engine as is in this car.

    I would just Paint Grill Flat Black, remove the original Rear End, go to Open Drive Shaft and Big Brakes , Dark Mag Wheels w Raise Letter Tires and
    DRIVE the Heck outta it……

    Reason for ‘enclosed drive shaft’ tunnel & rear end Removal is that the ‘drive shaft’ in the enclosed tunnel is very small diameter, had one ‘twist’ with low power of Flat Head engine.

    Like 1
  14. John Cee

    In storage for 40 plus years! Sounds like one of those owners that turned down buyers in the past and told them “I’m gonna fix her up one of these days” Finally realized that “one of these days” is probably not gonna come! That is a fair price, probably has a buyer heading their way already.

    Like 3
  15. geomechs geomechs Member

    Dropping in an Oldsmobile was a common practice back in the day. I often wonder how, not only because of the extra bulk of the Olds but the fact that the starter was on the left and would interfere greatly with the steering. I have a friend in Havre who dropped a 303 into a ’35 4-door. He proved that it could be done. He was even able to close the hood. A later mod called for a 283 Chevy. He runs a 350 in it today…

    • SteveS

      The bellhousing adaptor relocated the starter to the passenger side.

      Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        That makes good sense. I never asked my friend exactly what he did. I know he was only he was only 16 or 17 when he did it…

  16. Robt

    Love this car. Had seen it on another site where it seems it hadn’t sold for awhile.
    Everything about including the story works for me. Not to mention it was in minimal use within a couple of years ago. It will need attention mostly for safety upgrades but a lot of potential here. That early hot ridding with the 303 olds installed is so anti sbc.
    Love it.
    Selfishly wishing not to see it here because it will probably sell now. Not that I’ve got or will soon have the money or space for it.

    Like 1
  17. Btombraider0791

    I will be honest I love fords with all my heart I have a story to mine of why but we wont get into that. Now I love the bodies of fords as well as there front ends and rear ends. I am not saying this Chevy motor is not old and does not belong there in a sence. But it makes me wounder for all those Chevy lovers out there why would you use chevy parts in ford cars you love chevies so much then why discrace it with ford parts????? Its like me taking any and all ford v8s of the same time or era and putting them in oldsmobile chevlles camaros and then you asking me the same question of why is he doing that. You guys out get 1932 fords and throw 350 crate motors in them along with 350 turbo. But everything else is ford on that 1932 car and then its worth 25 to 30 grand when who know if you had thrown an actule ford motor in what ever kind of ford motors are out in would have went for more . And different types of trucks that ford front ends or rear ends are in to make your Chevy better. Kind of tells me whos is really better at making parts. I dont under stand why nit just go with a Ford and there eingines he’ll you went with all there other parts why not the one that counts witch is the engine. Other wise you Chevy people leave ford alone and ford parts of your going to make a Chevy use your parts you dont see ford using Chevy parts do you no or dodge using ford or Chevy parts again no to that answer. Seriously let me ask what you Chevy guys say to us throwing all ford parts in your Chevy cars eingines and all. 390 429 302 any of those we pop the hood what would you say. In all honesty you cant call it a Ford musting or a ford truck or a ford 1932 if it had a Chevy engine in it its a Chevy with ford parts and Chevy people you would think they would be ashamed but nope they will go all day calling it a Ford when its far from it.

    • Robt

      Any chance you want to reread your response and make some sense of it so we can understand? A little spell checking and maybe editing would help.

      Like 3
    • 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

      Think you said it best when you said to use mismatched parts to make it better. The small block Chevy was just a better fit in early Ford’s than any of the later Ford V8s, at least until the ’80s when the aftermarket got involved with adapter parts, especially oil pans and oil filter adapters. Ford V8s of the ’50-’60-’70s had front sumps (except for I think early Broncos) that made fitting to the front crossmembers difficult. The sbc was almost a drop-in with favorable weight and especially a much better acceptance in the speed parts industry. You are correct in that the Ford 9″ rear is the cheap/easy way of getting stronger rear gears, being by far the choice of the majority of hot rods just as the Chevy V8 (including the new LS series) is the choice of the largest share of engine swaps. It is still easier to put a Chevy V8 in an original early Ford Chassis than a Ford V8, but aftermarket chassis make it easy to put anything in. Even the early Olds that this car has – not a small block Chevy.

  18. Thomas S Gordon

    it is all about personal perspective: myself.. I have never delved into the HotRodding Scene,, mostly, I consider because of the $$$ mandated… and fuss of coloring outside the lines… That being vented… the Real Surprise to me is NOT seeing the original Flat Head power-plant under the hood.. what a disappointment.. though, again: to each his/her

  19. Nick

    This looks like a real survivor…Power wash it…Fix the exhaust and have some fun with it..
    You can buy them all day with a SBC and a 9″ if that’s what you prefer….I’d leave this one alone!

  20. Dave WARREN

    Is this car a daily driver and who can I contact about buying it ? My brother owned a 1940 exactly the same model with the original flathead.

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