Dick Colarossi's 1940 Ford
1940 Ford restyled by Valley Custom for Dick "Monk" Colarossi of Glendale, California. The engine compartment of Dick's Ford was highly detailed, and even the steel brake lines and fittings atop the frame rails were chrome plated. In addition to many chromed components, the radiator tank was polished brass. It ran a 262 cubic inches 59A block that was ported, relieved, bored and stroked. It featured 8 1/2 to 1 heads, 3 3/16 JE pistons that went 4 1/8 inches each way in the barrels, lightened valves and a Winfield SU1A camshaft. Lincoln springs were used to close the valves. It was fed through three Stromberg 48 carburetors mounted on an Edelbrock intake manifold. The electrical storm to the plugs was delivered through a Kong igniter from a brace of Ford coils mounted on a bracket directly above it. A slim battery above the right header was capped in chrome. It ran Belond headers and pipes that sweeped up from the enlarged and polished ports in the 59A block. It ran through the vents in the inner fender panels to join the Glasspack mufflers beneath the running boards. The running boards were rectangular in section, with two tubes inside to silence the passing gases with a minimum of back pressure. The exhaust exited through teardrop shaped apertures in the side of the running boards. The flywheel was cut to 18 lbs. and mounted on a beefed-up pressure plate. Being a former USC engineering student, Monk carried out the foregoing mechanical work himself. When it came to the exterior appearance, he wisely handed it over to Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen. At Valley Custom Shop the deck lid was planed and the hood filled and peaked down to the nose where the old latch was replaced with an inside type. The door handles were shaved, and replaced with micro-switch buttons hidden in the stock length side chrome. The gas tank filler was moved inside the trunk, and the stock taillights had to give way to 1941 Studebaker units.
Monk wanted to achieve a taildragger look, so the front was lowered by installing a 2 1/2 inches dropped axle, while the rear of the car was dropped even more by stepping the frame 5 inches. It ran 6.40 x 15 inch wide white wall tires up front and larger 6.70 x 15 inches tires in the rear. It was dressed up featuring single bar flipper hubcaps and fender skirts. The tail panel was shortened several inches, and the lower edge of the rear fenders were rolled to meet it. A subtle touch that gave the car a more streamlined appearance.
The headlight glass was protected by a pair of chrome mesh screens inserted beneath the light rims. The louvered grill side pieces were chrome plated. The bumpers were removed and replaced with period correct custom nerf bars. The bars appeared through chromed rings that replaced the normal rubber grommets. Rod & Custom March 1955 ran a technical article on how the nerf bars were made.
Inside, the coupe featured a maroon and eggshell Naugahyde interior by Tipton. A full width rear seat was used rather than the original "opera chair" type. The interior was set off with chromed window frames. The dash was restyled as well, and it was modified to accept six Stewart Warner dials: speedo, tach amps, water temp, oil pressure and gas. A 1954 Ford radio was mounted in the center of the panel. No protruding knobs or switches broke up the clean surface of the dash. All switches were of the toggle variety, and they were relocated beneath the dash's edge. Window cranks from a Chrysler replaced the stock cranks.
Monk's coupe was completed in time for the 1954 International Motor Revue, were it copped a 1st place in its class. Known as the "Monk-Wagon", 22 years old Dick patiently devoted five years to the construction of his Oxford Maroon coupe. It was featured in several magazines, and according to Lynn Wineland, who did a featured story on the car for Rod & Custom September 1955, "Forty Fords are as popular as they come in Southern California right now, almost achieving status as a definite fad in some sections. There've been some with the front bumper on the ground and the rear one high enough to stand over...and we've spotted them suspended the other way, too. Hot ones at the drags that look like an over-due date at Sam's Wrecking Yard and custom beauties that don't have enough power to pull the hat of your head are all in evidence." When Dick's coupe was featured in Rod & Custom September 1955 the fender skirts were gone and the wheel openings were radiused to the perimeter of the tires. The fender corners were also softened with a larger curve. This gave the forty a much more modern look.
With its hopped up engine, Monk also drove his coupe on the strip. At the Pomona Drags, it turned 86 in street competition on gas. When Lynn Wineland's story was published in Rod & Custom September 1955, Monk was serving in the Army. He had some post-service plans for the car, but he would not reveal what these were. Dick's daughter, Vicky Carabini, told Kustomrama in 2014 that her dad sold the coupe in 1957. The new owner was a pilot for United Airlines, but Dick can't remember his name. The last time Dick saw the car was in 1966 at a drag strip in San Fernando Valley, by then it had a Pontiac engine and rear end.
Where is it Now?
Dick Colarossi has been searching for his beloved '40 Ford for years. If you know what happened to it, or if you have any additional info on this old Valley Customs custom creation, please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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