Filed under: Feature Articles
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been driving this old thing every day for over a year now. When I first started this little adventure, I figured it would be a real test of my dedication to old cars. I imagined constant mechanical problems, long battles with inclement weather featuring no a/c or heater, and just more of a “tough it out” vibe than I have generally had. In fact, the ole ’39 has been a pretty damned cush ride for the past 12,000 miles. The odometer just turned over 70k miles on my ride home last night.
Of course, there was the engine rebuild a few weeks ago… I had planned on this “daily driver” thing only lasting a year. I figured after the long and hot summer I would be ready for a late model and had saved my dough for a down payment on a new truck. The flathead project changed all of that. I had two choices:
1. Use my little savings pot for a down and start making payments on a new truck. It would have been the responsible thing to do.
2. Screw the late model and use that dough to rebuild the flathead. Drive on…
Obviously, I chose the second option. And frankly, I’m pretty happy that I did. The flathead project was such a great experience and I’m just not ready to retire the ’39 to the ranks of an occasional car. This car needs to be driven and I need to drive it… It relaxes me. It smooths my edges. It makes me happy. And so it is so…
Questions & Answers:
Q: How does the new motor compare to the old?
A: It runs quite a bit better. There is a noticeable increase in power through out the rev range. The old motor had a Potvin 20 cam in it. From what we were able to ascertain, the Potvin 20 is just a blank cam used for custom grinding (Anyone know anything different?), so we aren’t sure of what the exact grind was. The new cam is an Isky Max 1. The car has a more aggressive idle, but nothing crazy at all.
To be honest, I don’t know it the performance improvement is due to the cam or simply due to better combustion chamber sealing after the valve job, etc… Whatever be the case, this old car runs really well now.
Q: How have the bias tires performed on an every day basis?
A: Perfectly. I drive the car in all types of weather and I haven’t had a single problem with the tires. In my opinion, there isn’t a real valid excuse not to run bias tires… They look right and perform just fine. I think my ’39 proves it.
Q: Your car is low… How does it ride?
A: Like a Cadillac. Seriously. The car has been converted to tube shocks all the way around and I think this helps a ton. Even with the 5″ dropped axle up front, my tires don’t rub… From a looks perspective, I wouldn’t mind if this car sat about an inch higher both front and back… But why fix something that isn’t broke?
Q: What kind of highway speeds can you cruise with the stock top loader and rear?
A: It’s real happy at 75 mph. Any faster and it buzzes a bit. I’m running a 6.50/16 rear with a 3.54 rear gear.
As for the top loader, I’m pretty passionate about the tranny. Most of my buddies swear by the T5 conversion, but I don’t have a reason for such a dramatic switch. Sure, my top loader grinds into 2nd every now and then and sure, I don’t have synchros into first… But this is a ’39 Ford and it drives like a ’39 Ford and that’s exactly what I want.
Q: How often does the flathead over heat?
A: Even in Austin, I haven’t over heated a single time.
Q: What’s the worse part about driving your car every day?
A: I can’t stand driving the car into the city. The car does fine, but it stresses ME out. I was born without the ability to smell, so I get really paranoid by every noise I hear. And then I start to worry about getting hit or… It just sucks. Thankfully, I live and work out in the country and typically only go into the city once a week or less.
Also, the ’39 doesn’t have a stereo. This hasn’t bothered me a bit until recently. I need some tunes now. As such, I’m working on a project that will give me tunes without cutting anything or without tipping anyone off visually. It’s an iPod based system… I’ll be sure to feature the install when I am done.
And the glass… For some reason, I’m dreading that project. All of the milked glass needs to be replaced and I have new stuff to go in it – I just haven’t had time to do it yet.
Q: How much longer are you going to do this?
A: As long as I rationally can I guess…
And finally, here’s a quick video from my drive to work this morning: