Potential Ridge Runner: 1940 Ford Business Coupe

Right up there with Casey Jones, Daniel Boone, and John Henry lives the legend of the ridge runners.  These illegal whiskey hauling wildmen were the precursors to NASCAR and were the root stock of hot rodding in the South.  Their weapon of choice was often a 1940 Ford business coupe, like the one you see here for sale on eBay out of Grenada, Mississippii.  Built to outrun revenuers with gallons of sweet, clear moonshine rattling around in the back, these cars were mechanical marvels for their day.  While this red coupe has no known history, it would be the perfect starting point for making your own shine runner.  With no bids at a starting price of $11,500, can this neat old Flathead be had for a song?  Thanks again go to Ikey H. for this interesting find!

Most historians agree that Prohibition caused more problems than it solved.  Many of the people of the South were desperately poor before the Depression came along and made things even worse.  What they did have was a Scots Irish heritage that had embraced whiskey making for centuries.  Combining that with acres and acres of corn and thirsty masses in cities like Atlanta, Memphis, and other rapidly growing boomtowns, you can see how moonshining became a way out of grinding poverty for many.  The stories of the battles between the law and the wild driving men who risked life and limb to deliver the mountain dew are hard to fathom in today’s orderly world. Junior Johnson himself once said that the fastest car he ever drove was a shine car. Let that sink in for a bit.

If you wanted to make a replica of a ’40 Ford shine car, then this car is a good canvas to start with.  It isn’t too nice to modify, but there is enough there to form a solid foundation.  Stored under a carport in humid Mississippi since the early eighties, humidity has taken its toll.  There are areas of rust through in the floor under the rear windows and in the far corner of the trunk.  Rust has also eaten away at the area under the trunk lid and in a few more areas of the car.  While annoying, this is not an insurmountable problem.  Replacement panels are readily available,  Just don’t be under the illusion that this car can be blasted and painted.

The interior would have to be reupholstered as well.  There is no telling what is under that seat cushion, and the door panels are unsalvageable.  All of the parts and pieces are there.  This includes the desirable 1940 Ford steering wheel.  It will also, unfortunately, need to be restored.

The moisture that came in presumably from the dried out rear window rubber certainly didn’t do this car any favors.  Still, there appears to be no real sheet metal damage around the windows or back glass.  The glass will have to be replaced along with the package tray.  Sure would have been nice if this car was stored in a garage all those years.

Under the hood we see the standard Flathead V-8.  All of the parts and pieces are present except for the air cleaner.  It is likely somewhere in the car.  A bit of good news is that there is a spare radiator in the trunk.  The seller tells us that the water pumps, steering, and some other items are froze up.  My guess is that the generator is the other item being referenced.  All are rebuildable for a fair price.  There are a few people around the country that specialize in these repairs, and they can be found through the Early Ford V-8 Club of America.  To cheer you up, we are told that the engine itself does rotate.

The real interesting part of this ad is that nobody has stepped up to pay the $11,500 minimum bid.  Despite the humidity induced rust and other damage, this is a very rebuildable ’40 Ford.  The popularity of these cars was evidenced in that Dennis Carpenter Ford Parts was selling complete bodies for these cars until just recently.  They sent an email out last month clearing out the last of the body shells.  Once the envy of any kid with a lead foot, is the market moving away from these once desirable cars?

What would you do with this rough but ready ’40 Ford?


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  1. Jwinters

    and in 2019 we now have Camry’s running in NASCAR.

    Like 11
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Still running shine though. 10 years ago or so I had to travel for work. Ended up in NC. After a lot of short talks at the tavern with a pretty good guy we ended up having a couple almost every night. A couple weeks of that and one day he asked if I was interested in some shine. Could not turn that down. We went behind the bar to his car, opened the trunk and wow! Packed full. No more Mason jars but plastic jugs now, for weight and sound. Bought a couple and he was off into the darkness. No shine car like this, some kind of 4 door Urban camo rig. Had motor work done for sure. Cool times!

      Like 3
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Neat cars but this one is too much money for too much rust.

    Like 6
  3. Ken Kittleson

    I picked up a ’40 Deluxe coupe about 20 years ago in similar shape for a similar price. We have now replaced the frame, floors, firewall, fenders and just about everything else from the original, and my retirement savings account is fast disappearing. The old adage is true, buy the best rust-free one you can find and you’ll be money ahead.

    Like 19
  4. Dave at OldSchool Restorations Dave at OldSchool Restorations Member

    Thanks Ken, for the best advice that dreamers constantly ignore.

    Bob Hess is correct…this is not a good project at anywhere near the asking price.

    I appreciate the effort Jeff puts into writing , but I think he has no experience with rusted cars, and what to be concerned with. Much better profect 40 coupes can be had for less money.

    Like 12
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    There is no doubt that this one is rusty. A complete teardown and rebuild will be in order. By the time the smoke is all clear, the buyer might want to consider just getting the replacement body and using it; he might be money ahead. There will be a lot of work in this one getting the rust cleared up. I would stick with the flathead, only maybe including some go-faster stuff. They actually went pretty good with the 221 although a 59AB took it a little quicker; it’s amazing how just ten horsepower can make a lot of difference. A highly desirable car when it’s nice and shiny…

    Like 3
  6. Bob

    No offense to anybody but I think $1500 would be more than generous.

    Like 4
    • Chris M.

      You’d never touch it for that kind of money. Although the car is rusty it’s very savable. ’40 Ford coupes are the most desirable designs of that era and although 12 grand is high for this particular car, I bet it sells for close to 10 grand. Still a car worth restoring. It will always be an original STEEL 40 coupe.

  7. Ken

    My dad called. He doesn’t want his red ’40 Ford coupe back. Not in this condition for this asking price.

    My folks had one when they got married in 1952. All they had was the car, their clothes, and a red Thermos brand ice chest our family used for 30 years.

    Like 3
  8. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    40 and 32. Fords were the cars a lot of teenagers drove in the 50’s and for good reason: 1. You could buy them cheap. 2. They were easy to work on. 3. They could be souped up without a lot of expense.
    Now decades later they’re still desireable cars for collectors. Now days you can buy fiberglass replicas with modern running and stopping gear.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  9. TimM

    I’m wondering if this is still another victim of Katrina??? It seems a little more than just humidity to me and the roof, trunk lid and hood all look really good considering the age of this car!! Got to love the pre war Fords!!! They had it going on back then!!!

    Like 3

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