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1939 Ford Convertible: "The Art Lellis Custom" Built in 1948. One of the first true customs.

Discussion in 'Cars For Sale' started by GZ, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. GZ
    Joined: Jan 2, 2007
    Posts: 1,068

    from Detroit

    City: Detroit

    State: Michigan
    Price: 85,000.00
    Price reduced to 75,000.00 or near offers.

    This spectacular 1939 Ford Convertible coupe is a great, original custom with a great story. It was built right after the Second World War by Art Lellis and Jerry Moffatt. Lellis and Moffatt owned one of the first customizing or “reworking shops” in California. The cars customized by Art and Jerry’s Custom Shop on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles would inspire many of the bigger names like Sam and George Barris and the Ayala brothers who would not become famous until a decade later. Lellis and Moffatt built two, virtually identical cars, which were both featured in Hot Rod Magazine in September of 1948. After some minor reworking, the Lellis convertible was featured again in May of 1950.

    Art Lellis’ began with a stock, 1939 Ford convertible. The body was channeled four inches over the frame and the lower section redesigned as the running boards were eliminated. The top was chopped three inches. The front fenders were raised to match the new bodylines and the hood was modified to fit the new fenders and body height. The rear wheel wells were enlarged and “bobbed” with fender skirts and a custom made gas tank door. All of the chrome trim was removed from the car. A custom-made Carson top was designed and built that could either be removed or folded. The original rumble seat was kept functional.

    On the inside, the original Ford seat was removed in favor of a bench seat-likely taken from a late 1930s or 1940s GM car. The seat was covered in pleated leather and matching vinyl door panels were added. A custom made dash was built and installed. The Ford gauges were removed and replaced with a full set of matching, Stewart Warner gauges including an ammeter, two water gauges to monitor each cylinder head, oil pressure, speedometer, fuel gauge, fuel pressure and tachometer.

    On the outside of the car was built to look like custom, but underneath, this was a pure hot rod. The engine is a 296 cid, Mercury flathead V-8 that was custom built by Evans. The engine was bored and stroked on the inside. On the outside, block was fitted with finned Offenhauser high compression heads and a custom, four carburetor manifold topped with four Stromberg 97 carburetors. Ignition was provided by a Harmon and Collins dual point and dual coil distributor system. Period finned water pipes add and other trim items make the engine bay complete. The engine is backed by a Ford three-speed transmission fitted with Lincoln Zephyr gears. All of these components are present on the car today.

    Unlike most customs that were built for show, the Lellis convertible was built for racing and in 1950, raced at El Mirage with a top speed of 120 miles an hour. The car retains its original Cal-Neva timing tag on the dashboard.

    After racing, Art advertised the car for sale in Hotrod where it was sold. Eventually the car ended up on the east coast.

    In the mid 1950s, the car received some minor accident damage and the front end was once again modified-this time a 1940 Ford hood and grill were completely redesigned and mated to the 1939 cowl and body. The bumpers were replaced with 1948 Ford bumpers and the car was repainted a 1950 Ford color known as Sportsman Green.

    It is believed the car was only used for a few years after being purchased and updated and was put in storage until the 1970s when it was purchased by the current owner.

    In the 1980s, this car was restored back to its mid-1950s appearance using all of the original parts and components. The interior was redone using the same color of leather and patterned as original. The exterior was painted the same color green. This car has been used and always maintained since the restoration was completed.

    In recent years, the car has been shown and awarded the Chairman’s Trophy at the 2012 Detroit Autorama, the Gene Winfield Award at the 2014 Detroit Autorama, Best of Show at the Billetproof Michigan. The car was also recently shown at The Quail Lodge Concours in California. The car has been well-photographed and has appeared in several publications including the December 1995 issue of Rod and Custom.

    Today, this historic custom is ready to use and enjoy. The car retains all of its rare period parts and original modifications. The leather interior has mellowed with use and has a great look to it. The paint is excellent but does show signs of wear that one would expect from being 30 years old. The chrome is bright and clean. The original Carson top can be removed or folded. This original custom is very well restored, but not overly restored. Mechanically, it has always been cared for. The full race flathead starts easily, sounds great and propels the car down the road with great speed. This car was built to be driven, and, unlike so many hotrods or customs, this 1939 Ford really handles well at all speeds. The lake pipes are fully functional and when uncapped, the V-8 sounds perfectly aggressive.

    This is a rare opportunity to purchase an authentic and extensively documented period hot rod that has been in single-family ownership for approximately 40 years. It is ready for its next caretaker and will continue to win awards and be a pleasure to drive for many years to come.

    Reasonably priced at 85,000.00 and located near Detroit, Michigan. The car has a clear and current Michigan title and is registered by its original 1939 Ford chassis number of 18 5030716

    For more information, please call 734-730-4274 or email:
    I do not check pm's, so it is best to call or email if you are seriously interested.

    We are not interested in any trades.

    Authorized agent for the owner.

    Thank you very much.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017

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