Mike McAuliffe's 1940 Ford
1940 Ford Deluxe Fordor Sedan owned by Shiftmisters of Lafayette member Mike McAuliffe of Pleasant Hill, California. Restyled by East Bay Speed & Custom, the car is also known as "The Second Time Around."
The 1952 Nor Cal Look
Mike originally purchased the car together with Brandon Flaner as a was a well-preserved factory-black-paint car in 2013. A year prior to buying the forty, Flaner started up East Bay Speed & Custom, a hot rod and custom body and restoration shop in Concord, California. Busy running the shop, work on the fordor stalled, and Brandon convinced Mike to take over the project the same year. Mike got into hot rods in the 1950s, when he was driving a 1946 Ford business coupe to high school.
Brandon started the build by notching the frame in the back. Reverse eye leaf springs and a four-inch dropped axle were also installed in order to achieve a proper cruising stance. Mike enjoyed the forty like this for a couple of years before he and Brandon agreed on taking it to the next level in May of 2016. Grounded in history and Mike's roots, they decided to give the car a circa 1952 "Nor Cal Look." "A lot of the inspiration came from Dick Falk, who was doing things like this in the 1940s," Brandon told Paul Garson of the Rodder's Journal when he was interviewing him for a story about the car.
At East Bay Speed & Custom the body was mildly restyled and cleaned up. Brandon shaved the trim along the leading edge of the hood before the beltline trim was shortened 12 inches. 1940 Ford Standard headlight doors painted the same color as the body replaced the chromed DeLuxe units. The deck lid was shaved and the license plate was relocated to the rear bumper. A pair of 1940 Mercury bumpers were added, along with 1940 Chevrolet fender skirts, a 1946 Ford gas door, and a pair of 1941 Studebaker taillights.
The Second Time Around
At this point, Mike was still driving the fordor, with most of the bodywork done and in primer. They began talking about spotting in some black to match the original paint, but then things escalated, and the car was disassembled and stripped down to bare metal. During the rebuild, the top corners of the deck lid and the top rear corners of the back doors were rounded before Brandon painted the car in a 1950 Mercury Everglade Green color. The firewall and inner fenders were painted a modified PPG Wimbledon White.
Viva La France
During the rebuild, the original engine was scrapped in favor of a French flathead block. Flathead guru Rick Hall was called on to build the engine, and the French block was ported, relieved and bored .125 over. A SCAT 4-1/4 inch stroker crank and rods and Ross 3-5/16 inch pistons were installed, producing 293-inches of displacement. Brandon painted the engine 1950 Ford Palisade Green before it was dressed up with polished Navarro heads, a Cyclone intake manifold, and three Stromberg 97 carburetors. A vintage Harman & Collins magneto provided the spark. The engine compartment was further dressed up with plenty of chrome, including details such as chromed hinges. The engine was hooked to a 1940 Ford transmission and a Columbia two-speed rearend.
Bob Divine at Divine's Custom Upholstery was called on to stitch and install a matching two-tone early 1950s style Oxford Green and cream Naugahyde tuck'n'roll interior. Matching cream piping traversing was also installed in the headliner. Brandon painted the dash Everglade Green and a modified PPG Wimbledon White before he installed an accessory Stewart-Warner overdrive speed changer, a Crestliner steering wheel, 1946 Ford commercial gauges, chromed dash trim, chromed knobs, and chromed garnish moldings. Sherm's Custom Plating took care of the chromework. Running 16-inch 1940 Ford wheels, it was dressed up with 6.00 x 16 Firestone piecrust whitewall tires and restored National Hollywood flipper hubcaps. Just as the engine, the wheels were also painted 1950 Ford Palisade Green.
The build was completed in 2017, two days before the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. At the show, Mike's Ford took home the PPG's Outstanding Paint award, the Street Rodder's Pick, H&H Best Dressed Flathead award, and the First Place trophy for Custom Rod Sedan '35 -'48. During the build, the car took on the moniker "The Second Time Around," because it marked a few second chances in Mike's life.
At the 2017 Sacramento Autorama Mike's fordor won the Dick Bertolucci Automotive Excellence Award. After the show, Paul Garson interviewed Bertolucci for a story in the Rodder's Journal. "When I first walked through the show door, the car was sitting there and it hit me really hard and I thought, "my God, look at this '40 Ford." And I'm a Chevrolet guy to boot. It took my eye right off the bat," Bertolucci told Garson. The interview was published in Rodder’s Journal 76; "Yes, it was a very unusual car to start with, but the quality of the workmanship couldn't be overlooked. I look for things people don't look for...fit and finish and workmanship...which covers a lot. And yet, I was very fussy, and I look for perfection. it's not a matter of how much, it's a matter of how well. With this car, there were no flaws in the workmanship, no gaps of any kind. Everything fit! There were millions of cars in that show, but it was the first time a semi-stocker, something not channeled or sectioned or chopped did what it did. To take a stock four-door sedan and put it into that condition...just beautiful." The same year, Mike's Ford did also become one of the Goodguys Custom of the Year finalists at the 2017 All American Get-Together.
In 2019 Mike told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that he enjoys driving a powerful Flathead powered hot rod. "We built if for that purpose and it turned out to be a fantastic show winner as well. Working with Brandon was a real joy and privilege. He is so highly skilled and runs a personable, professional shop focused on a team of the car owner and himself. I never had one concern or quibble about any of the build. It incorporated some of my desires and ideas and the same was contributed by Brandon. The Bertolucci trophy award nails his work and says it all. East Bay Speed & Custom RULES!"
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