Potential Rat Rod: 1934 Ford Model 40 DeLuxe

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This 1934 Ford Model 40 is a car that sends mixed signals. While the owner advertises it as a DeLuxe, there are indications that this might not be accurate. It is still a pretty solid car and is just waiting for someone to restore it. Located in Otho, Iowa, you will find the Ford listed for sale here on eBay. While bidding has now reached $8,000, the reserve hasn’t been met.

The old Ford’s body doesn’t look to be too bad in the supplied photos. There’s a ding in the roof just above the passenger side door, and it appears that one of the consequences of this is that the glass in that door is badly cracked. The rear bumper is missing, and there is also some damage to the rear pan. The owner doesn’t mention any issues with rust, so hopefully, the car is relatively solid. However, I have noticed a hole in the front floor on the driver’s side, so it will require some investigation. The reason that I question whether this Ford is actually a DeLuxe is due to a couple of missing items on the outside. While it does have the twin rear lights that you would expect on a DeLuxe, it is missing both the pinstriping and dual chrome horns that were a distinctive part of the package. Hardly conclusive proof, I know, but interesting nonetheless.

The interior trim in the Ford is looking pretty tired, and the whole car would require reupholstering as part of any restoration project. The material used on the seats is not original, while every other surface is looking pretty sad. Further to my query about whether this car is actually a DeLuxe, the dash leaves me with more doubts. If this were a DeLuxe, then I would expect to find a timber trimmed dash. The fact that the dash is painted suggests that this Ford is a Standard.

One item that is missing is the original 221ci flathead V8. The rest of the drivetrain appears to be present, but the owner doesn’t enlighten us on its condition. That makes me wonder that given the car’s overall condition, whether this might be a good contender for either a street rod or rat rod project. It certainly has the right look about it, and the lack of an engine would open the door for some pretty interesting possibilities.

While it appears to be a largely sound vehicle, this 1934 Ford is an incomplete car. The question would be what the next owner would choose to do with it. If you bought it, what path would you follow?

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  1. Dan

    I definitely would not turn it into a “rat rod.” I lost interest in street rods a while back…are rat rods still being built in droves?

    Like 16
    • Darrun

      I’m with you Dan.

      Like 9
  2. Bob S

    I think it would be a crime to turn a body like that into a rat rod. I think it should be restored and install a more modern flattie, or even do a swap. The body needs work, but it is too nice to destroy.
    The styling of the 34 is my favourite of the pre 39 cars


    Like 15
  3. bobhess bobhessMember

    Someone on this site has got to explain to me why you would keep suggesting to build a “Rat Rod” out of one of the better cars of that age to come up in a long time. Rat Rod craze started out in the south west and looks to me like it’s dying out there. This car could be used to build a really neat full bodied street rod or restored as one of very few of its type still alive. Build junk out of junk, not good, rare cars. I’d love to have the time to build this car into something really nice and I hope someone else does just that with it.

    Like 18
    • stillrunners

      Gas Monkey’s rise to stardum was with those rat rods…had them lined up at the swap meets I remember.

      Like 2
    • triumph1954

      Funny. Rat Rod is a way over used term. I always thought the term was used by the uninformed to make people think they were informed. Kind of like with motorcycles. People that don’t know what they are talking about, call a sport bike a crotch rocket.

      Like 2
    • John S

      One word: ” RATRODSSUCK”!… ‘Nuff said!

      Like 1
  4. CadmanlsMember

    Great car to update with a newer flat motor, built a period correct hot rod. Rat rods are built from junk and this car is not junk! 200 HP flathead is easy to do and even though it’s not a coupe still would make a good looking car.

    Like 7
  5. Retired Stig

    Sorry bobhess, but why anyone would turn a desirable car into a ratrod is a mystery. I can understand why some unique but unloved old car might be hacked up by someone wanting to be one of the kool kids, but not a ’30s Ford.

    Like 11
  6. stillrunners

    yep – nice flathead and trans and ready to roll

    Like 4
  7. TimM

    When a car has a body in this shape there shouldn’t be chopped, channeled or destroyed in any fashion!! I’m all for hot rodding but make the car so it could be turned back to original if a new owner so desired to!! This car is in such good shape it would be a crime to cut it up!!!

    Like 9
  8. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Fix the body, get a Merc flathead and Ardun heads and enjoy the ride.
    It’s too nice to mess this one up.
    I have to ask, is the seller trying to enter this ad in some kind of photo contest or why isn’t there any exterior photos that look like the car is trying to slide off the image?

    Like 6
  9. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Rat rods are like anything else: you have good quality examples, and some are just stupid. I saw a really excellent example at a show last year, and it really made me smile because it was very creative and well-executed. Most of them aren’t that interesting. But still it’s an expression of the old car hobby, so I say live and let live.
    I like mine factory original, because I feel like Harley Earl, Virgil Exner, Elwood Engel et al knew what they were doing, and I wouldn’t presume to place my ideas ahead of theirs, any more than I’d touch up the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

    Like 6
  10. Kevin Lee

    I always thought a two door sedan version of the California Kid would be very cool.

    Like 4
  11. JerryDeeWrench

    Calling this car a rat rod is like calling a dog a cat. The term rat rod refers to a build made with parts,left in your back yard from other projects or picking needed elements from what ever. I hope a home builder gets this and makes a driver out of it. God Bless him.

    Like 5
    • Mike

      We seem to be pretty much on the same wavelength here. However, back when people actually built their own cars, instead of buying parts from catalogs and paying someone else to assemble them, they weren’t called rat rods, they were just project cars that were built to the best of the owners abilitiy and budget at the time. I don’t know where that name comes from, but, I’ve never liked it. Even though I’m as guilty as everyone else these days for buying parts from catalogs for my projects, I still build them myself. At the same time, I’ve seen people pay shops a bunch of money to build something to look like it isn’t finished. To each their own. But, and not that I ever would, even if I could afford to, if I’m going to pay someone else tens of thousands of dollars to assemble MY catalog bought project, that sob is gonna be finished and shine like a diamond!

      Like 1
      • Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

        Well said, Mike. My beef is this: after slaving over a hot Newport or Riviera for months, I go to a car show and there’s some joker with a 2018 Corvette, like that should impress anyone at a classic car show. Just today I was working on the Newport, and came in for dinner about as dirty as I’ve ever been in my entire life. I love it. Do you think 2018 Corvette boy gets dirty? I’m sure the rat-rod guys do.

        Like 1
      • John S

        Right on, Mike! The term “Rat Rod” (shudder) is/was a direct descendant of the “Rat Bike”s of the 70’s… Rough, ratty, rusty, ill handling, un-safe,… etc., etc…. Pieces of doo-doo. (They resembled their owners, quite frankly) The term morphed gradually into cars of the same description and then as most terms, widely miss-used i.e.; anything with rust and/or primer… then into over exaggerated, “cute”, “art-form”, bolt extemporanious crap onto it, contraptions who’s only true purpose is to attract attention to the owner… y’know, like that. Phewww!! Felt good to get that off my chest… sorry, (or not) got a bit carried away there… Any way I don’t like ’em either. I need a nap…

        Like 0
  12. Ken Carney

    Flathead, check. Juice brakes, check.
    Dropped front axle, check. Big ‘n’ littles,
    check. 12 volt electrics, check. filled
    roof, check. That’s how I”d do it if it were
    mine. But a 200HP flattie, really? Last
    one I built was in ’72 and the most HP
    I could get was somewhere around 160.
    Would really like to see that! For our
    younger readers, this was the way we
    often found the cars that we turned into
    hot rods. Nice blank canvas car. Hope
    it’s redone right. Rat rod, oh hell no!

    Like 7
  13. Tom Henderson

    I know one thing, diagonal picture angles are designed to draw attention away from details that would otherwise be noticed.

    Like 3
    • TimM

      I thought maybe he had been watching to many old episodes of Batman!!! I was waiting for the pow, boom and kazam to come up on the screen!!

      Like 1
  14. Mike

    Irritating photographs. My neck hurts.

    Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

      Mike & Tom,
      The photos almost made me seasick!

      Like 1
  15. bigdoc

    Restore it to original with a built up flattie and enjoy the ride. Also fin a bench seat for it.

    Like 0
  16. Terry Furness

    If that 34 was for sale in New Zealand it would be classed as “Mint “

    Like 1
  17. triumph1954

    Nice car! I think upholstery on seats is original. Could be restored or nice hotrod. Kevin Lee-I like that idea, 2 door sedan California Kid.

    Like 1
  18. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Oh boy! Here we go again, hot rod, rat rod, custom, or whatever. No engine, can’t be as original. Flat head V8, or ohv V8 or V6, maybe even a Ford 2.3 L 4 Bangor. Lots of possibilities. Here’s my take; replace brakes install 2.3 L with 5speed or 10 speed automatic. Now here in Houston we need a/c so vintage a/c is a must. Wouldn’t do much else for awhile but at some point independent front suspension and power steering. Then just continue to enjoy it.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  19. Fossil

    The Kangaroo dollar has slipped to about .67 cents to the US, so unfortunately, I have to say that I won’t bid on this one, although every bone in my body says “go for it”.
    Add 30% to the asking price, plus freight, insurance, customs and goods and services tax of 10% and you have a US30 grand car landed in Australia. Unfortunately, too rich for me!!

    Like 0
  20. Joe Haska

    When ever a 32 to 40 Ford shows up on Barn Finds the responses never cease to amaze me, even though they are usually basically the same. Has to be saved and restored, Hot Rod with a Flathead or a full blown modern day Hot Rod. This time however, Rat Rod got thrown in, we have come along ways, but I don’t think turning a fairly complete 32 or 34 into a Rat Rod is a very good idea. I would agree this car probably was a Standard ,but at this point it really dosn’t matter. In NZ it would be mint, 25 years ago in the USA it would be very rough, and today it went to 9k plus and didn’t make reserve! All I know is I thought I was very well educated on early Ford V-8’s , all I know now is, I need to be re-educated, because I don’t get it.

    Like 0
  21. MichaelMember

    I bought a 32 l o ng ago like that for $25 and drove it home then no one wanted sedans–I paid $45 for a 34 cabriolet convert and drove it home also. note it cost twice as much. With modern brakes, Escort 120 cuin 4 valve etc it would be a good user with some CLASS!

    Like 0

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