Bill E 1938 Ford Deluxe Coupe

My Grandson and Me - The Same Sixteenth Birthday Car

I turned sixteen in 1958 (I'll be 73 in a few weeks). Desperate for my first car but with very limited funds, I found a 1938 Ford coupe, running with a flathead engine, for the affordable price of only $60. I knew that it wasn't a very popular body style but, as I said, it was running, it was affordable, and it was a coupe.

I treated myself to a birthday present and bought it on the spot. I drove it home, then, almost immediately, I started modifying it to suit my tastes. By the time I started to college the following year, I had put in a 283 Chevy engine, coupled with an adaptor to the original Ford transmission. I still have the original windshield with my 1959 freshman parking decal on it.

After shelling the gear teeth in the old Ford transmission several times and blowing the bottom half of the case out once, I became an expert in rebuilding the old top shifter. Finally, I gave up and put in a Chevrolet rear end with an open driveshaft and a 4-speed transmission. That allowed me to continue driving it for several years with a couple of engine rebuilds.

Somehow, I managed to carry the old coupe around the country with me for 55 years, as my career took me from state to state. Then, a couple of years ago, my middle grandson, who was then only eleven years old, begged me to haul it out and fix it up for him. How could I refuse? He was in love with the car and I had some time before he was to get his driver's license.

I enrolled in an auto restoration night class at a local trade school in order to take advantage of their equipment and tools in rebuilding my coupe. As luck would have it, the instructor was building a '38 Ford Standard coupe on a chassis that he had bought from Heinzman Hot Rod Shop in Nebraska. It was outfitted with a Ford 9" rear end, coil over suspension, rack and pinion steering, Wilwood disc brakes at all four wheels, and other trick parts and pieces. Somehow, I managed to get him to trade me his chassis in exchange for my original chassis and an old truck that I had paid $2,500 for. What a deal!

All the sheet metal work has now been completed, including new floors, patch panels and a new firewall. I'm building a 4-bolt main 350 that I will equip with a 3-two carburetor setup that I saved from a long ago hot rod project. I still have 2 1/2 years to complete the rebuild before my grandson turns sixteen and I just hope that he gets as much pleasure from the old '38 as I did.

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