This 1940 Ford’s Amazing Journey Took Some Twists and Turns


A car’s journey on the road to becoming a street rod can be short and straight or long and twisty. Doug and Susie Bush’s 1940 Ford coupe took the latter route.

The coupe had passed from one owner to another by the time Kenny Locke ended up with the car. Locke had been jonesing for a 1940, and fell in love with this one when a friend was in the process of building it. It was a complete, all-original-steel 1940 Ford packed with a Chevy small-block, a little bit rough, but rust-free and a decent driver. Locke drove the car for a while and was continuing the progress that the previous owners had started, when the journey took a bad turn. He suffered a diabetic shock while driving the car, lost consciousness, and crashed. Locke survived, but the coupe was a wreck.

The car was turned over to a body shop for extensive repair, but progress was slow. Sadly, Locke’s health continued to fail and he died before the work was finished.

Doug and Susie were friends with Locke so they decided to finish his 1940 as a tribute to him. With the help of Locke’s brother, they rescued the coupe from the body shop. Doug and Susie operated D&S Custom Plating in Orange County, California, until retiring. That’s how they knew Pete Santini, owner of Santini Paint, whom they talked to about finishing the work on the 1940.

When the car got to Santini’s Westminster, California, shop it was still showing the effects of the crash. Santini’s crew straightened all the sheetmetal, moved the firewall back 4 inches, and added a custom gas door before laying down the PPG black and candy with pearl blue flames, set off by Dennis Ricklefs’ expert pinstriping.

Those contributions were remarkable, but making the coupe roadworthy again required more than expert bodywork and beautiful paint. So Santini contacted his friend, builder Don Lindfors in Orange, California, who agreed to take on the project. He and Doug devised a plan to upgrade many of the parts and turn the 1940—painted but in pieces—into a running, driving car.

Lindfors started on the chassis, built upon a Total Cost Involved Engineering frame. He reworked the front suspension with tubular control arms, modified to ride on RideTech ShockWaves. He continued by building a new front crossmember to get the stance right, and modifying the rear triangulated four-link that hangs a Currie 9-inch Ford with custom Aldan double-adjustable coilover shocks. Modified TCI front and rear antiroll bars and power rack-and-pinion make the 1940 handle like a modern car. All the suspension pieces were polished and plated at D&S Custom Plating. It all rides on chromed 17×8 and 20×8.5 Coy’s five-spoke wheels with 215/50R17 and 245/40/20 Hankook performance tires.

The impressive interior features a Bob Drake Reproductions dash modified with molded A/C vents and loaded with instruments from Custom Rod Gauges. The Vintage Air controls were sunk into the dash and all the custom wiring from Painless Performance Products was hidden. The Glide Engineering bucket seats and custom rear bench were covered in black leather by 714 Motorsports. Mercedes carpeting, custom door panels, and fully trimmed-out trunk continue the completely restyled interior. The sound system features a hidden Sony head unit controlled by a remote mounted to the center armrest. A custom-curved one-piece windshield from Jefferis Hot Rod Autobody Glass gives an unobstructed view of the road. The one-piece power side windows are controlled by stock 1940 handles that keep the early car flavor, while a leather-wrapped Lecarra steering wheel atop a Flaming River tilt column raises the comfort level.

A rod this hot needs a potent powerplant and a Danny Rogers Performance 383 small-block Chevy with Edelbrock aluminum heads, a healthy cam, and Scat stroker crank fills the prescription. It was originally set up with a Demon Six Shooter intake and carburetor setup, but after a couple of years on the road Doug was ready for something new, so Lindfors pulled off the frontend, freshened the engine, and added an Imagine Injection eight-stack fuel injection system, controlled by a FAST computer and MSD Ignition. Patriot headers send the spent gases through a custom mandrel-bent exhaust system, ceramic-coated at Embee Performance.

Doug sent everything that could be plated through his chrome tanks, including the A/C compressor, hand-fabricated valve covers—even the fuel injection. With a new Rock Valley Stainless gas tank and injection tuning by Superior Automotive, the car was ready for the road again. A Bowtie Overdrive 700-R4 transmission, custom driveshaft from Orange County Driveline, and 3.0:1 rear gears with limited slip deliver torque to the rear wheels. Stopping power is provided by Wilwood 11-inch disc brakes at all four corners.

As mentioned, the car came to Lindfors in pieces. After many hours of assembly and adjusting—and with help from Peter Vecvanags—the sheetmetal, new running boards, smoothed and plated original bumpers, glass, and trim were reassembled and fitting better than Henry Ford ever imagined—or Kenny Locke ever dreamed.

An interesting thing happened along the 1940 Ford’s long journey on the road to becoming a street rod—Doug and Susie became immersed in the hobby. The coupe has won a lot of impressive car show awards, including three wins at the Grand National Roadster Show. Those wins are rewarding but one of the biggest highlights for Doug and Susie was participating in the Children’s Hospital of Orange County charity Christmas cruise. Trophies are great, but seeing kids enjoy sitting in this beautiful car was a priceless prize.



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