Edsel Bryant Ford was the only son of Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. In 1934 he became the company’s president. His design tastes were in direct conflict with his father’s. Henry favored standard coachwork where Edsel wanted to create custom coachwork and a more ”continental” car like the styles he had seen while traveling Europe. To achieve the look he desired, Edsel teamed with Ford Motor Company’s styling chief Eugene “Bob” Gregorie to design the cars he envisioned.
The result was the Edsel Ford Model 40 Special Speedster featuring bodywork that was both light and strong. Other touches included a shapely alligator-style hood with louvered side panels, low-mounted headlights molded into the fenders; an enclosed radiator with a concealed cap; a starter button on the instrument panel; no running boards; and long, low proportions. The Model 40 was originally powered by a Ford Flat 8, but the block cracked in 1939. After that it was powered by a Mercury flathead V8 displacing 239 cu-in and producing 120 hp. This was more than sufficient power for a car with a curb weight of just 2,400 lbs. To add to the sleek appearance of the low slung car, it was given a wheel base of 122 inches. Although the car was built on a standard 1934 Ford Chassis, it was lowered six inches by passing the rear frame rails pass under the axle and specially made suspension parts in the front.
Additionally, the car was doorless and topless. There are aircraft inspired ”wheel pants” for cycle fenders on all corners, but the front turn with the wheels. The original car was painted in Pearl Essence Gunmetal with a gray leather interior. While the Model 40 was strictly used as a personal conveyance for Edsel Ford, it shows the vision that he had for the future of the Ford Motor Company.
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