Automobile for an Audiophile
Music plays a big role in my life. It doesn’t matter if I’m out in the garage, at my desk or somewhere in between, I’m constantly listening to something. Old music, new music, you name it, I’ll give it a try. Although there are many times and many places for tunes, I’ve realized that, for me, inside a hot rod usually isn’t one of them. Whenever I find myself out on the road in vintage tin, I’m not thinking about music. Instead, I’m infatuated with the sound of the engine, the whirr of the drivetrain and the hum of the tires on the road.
Today’s feature—a ’40 Ford from the Pacific Northwest—brings things in the opposite direction, but in a good way. Built by 19-year-old Ron Heddinger of Eugene, Oregon, the car rides the line between rod and custom.
Whether we’re talking moonshine running or roundy-round racing, ’40 Fords have long been a popular choice. Ron kept the bodywork on his stock, but he did splurge on a two-inch dropped axle, reversed Lincoln wheels, panel truck bumpers and a ’41 Ford gas cap. Staying true to tradition, the real hot rodding took place underneath the hood. Out went the flathead and in went a ’53 Oldsmobile V8, complete with a trio of Strombergs on an Edelbrock manifold. Power was transferred via a LaSalle trans to a rearend stuffed with 4.44 gears.
By this point you’re probably thinking, “Okay, this is a well-built ’40. But what’s the catch?” Open the doors, pop the trunk and then you’ll get the picture. Woah! Full-on late-’50s/early-’60s excess to the max. Gold and white striped Naugahyde everywhere. There’s a brand-new Impala steering wheel, Stewart-Warner gauges—and more audio equipment than I’ve ever seen in an early Ford.
We’re talking a Wollensak stereo tape recorder, Garrad changer, two eight-inch subwoofers, two four-inch tweeters, a six-inch mid-range tweeter and a 12-inch speaker. Where’s the power coming from? A pair of 125-watt converters and a quartet of Delco batteries that Ron stashed out of sight.
This coupe certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, and I’m sure it had plenty of impact when it hit the streets of Eugene nearly 60 years ago. With its candy black gold (?) lacquer and Hi-Fi stereo gear, it caught the attention of the Hot Rod Magazine staff, who featured it in the July 1960 issue.
Seeing that elaborate sound systems weren’t the norm in those days, this coupe was on the cutting edge—and it cost Ron $4,000 to build. Personally, I like it, but I could do without the mid-century audio-visual equipment. Call me simple, I don’t mind. Besides, don’t you think it may be a fire hazard to have all that upholstery so close to all those electrical components? A neat piece of our hobby’s history nonetheless.
Photos by Pete Sukalac, HRM, July 1960