A few years ago, I wrote a number of articles on the H.A.M.B. concerning design elements of customized cars. I haven’t done one in quite a long time, and I thought it might be interesting to consider some of the customized ’40 Fords that influenced the design of my own phantom convertible. My ’40 convertible was built between 2008 and 2017. Its construction was covered in detail by Don Dillard’s excellent build thread, “Tony Miller’s phantom ’40 convertible”. Don is also the guy who built the car. From the time I bought the derelict ’40 coupe that became my convertible, we heard frequent comments that ‘40s were perfect as they were built, they didn’t need customizing, and other judgmental comments that might have discouraged us. I was confident that we knew what we were doing, and the end result was quite successful, so all’s well that ends well. There is a lot of truth to the comments we were getting. 1940 Fords are truly good-looking cars, and a lot of unfortunate mods have been done to them in the last 80 years. On the other hand, guys who preceded us sometimes got it right, and some very nice cars resulted. I did a lot of research during our project, and I thought it might be interesting to review some of the customizing that was done to ‘40s back in the day. Two of the features of my car, the top and the grille, were original to us and can be judged on their own merits. The other significant detail is that the car is channeled/sectioned, and that has been done on other ‘40s for more than 70 years. A word about the design of the top: I’ve liked ’40 Fords since I was a pre-teenager. I never bought one because I thought that they didn’t need any help; that they were great looking cars as they were originally built. The one exception, in my opinion, is the convertible. The ’40 convertible top is awkwardly proportioned, and the huge expanse of canvas behind the door windows looks like a Conestoga wagon. I thought that if the stock ’40 convertible top was replaced with one similar to a ’42-’48 convert, with quarter windows for the people in the back seat, that it would be greatly improved. Like this: That Photoshop exercise seemed to prove my conviction that the appearance of the top could be improved, so I recklessly decided to build a car that looked like the rendering. The proportions were a little funny with the later style top on the stock ’40 body, so I decided to section it to reduce some of the body’s bulk. My car Started out as a ’40 Standard coupe. In addition to cutting off the top and building it into a phantom convertible, we channeled the body and sectioned the hood and rear quarters. The idea was to reduce the body mass in proportion to the new Carson-type top. Here are some other, earlier ’40 Ford and Merc customs that are sectioned and/or channeled: Ralph Jilek The earliest and most significant influence on my car was a feature on Ralph Jilek’s ’40 Convertible in a 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine. I loved the car when I saw that article, and I have admired it for the 60+ years since I first saw it. Jilek’s car was channeled and sectioned, and we did the same mods to my car. I thought that the 4” section on Jilek’s was a bit much, so we used 2 1/2” on mine. Don Dillard observed that the uncut ‘40 grille looked too large on Jilek’s front end, so we agreed to extend the front edge of the hood (reducing the height of the grille) by half the amount of the section. Jimmy Summers Summers’ ’40 Merc is channeled with the fenders moved up and a chopped, tan Carson top. It appears to be sectioned as well. What a beautifully proportioned car! Glen Hooker Glen’s ’39 Merc, built by his brothers-in-law at Valley Custom, was channeled. The bottom of the body and fenders (which were rotten) were trimmed off. The windshield was cut to match a used, chopped Carson top. The fender wells were radiused, but the fenders were not raised on the body. What an amazingly handsome car this was, considering that it was built on a minimal budget. John Geraghty Geraghty’s car appears to be channeled and wearing a white Carson top, but the body is not sectioned. It appears that the front fenders are raised and the hood sectioned, but the rear fenders are stock. Stan Baker The Baker car had most of the same mods as Jilek’s, but its proportions and details were more nearly those of a stock ’40 Convertible, and overall it’s less striking. Doug Rice Rice’s 1939 coupe was chopped, channeled, and sectioned, which appears more obvious on the coupe body style than it is on the convertibles. Jim Chapkis Chapkis’ coupe was severely channeled and sectioned, but the top was stock height.