The Flathead Ford is still the engine of cool for traditionalists in the Hot Rod & Custom Car worlds. Here on the blog I always like to feature items and articles that spread the Flathead word & its storied history. This article from Ryan at the Jalopy Journal is from 2006, and is excellent!
My family and I just returned from a two week long, 4800 mile Airstream-tugging road trip that took us across 13 states, and returning to the West Coast primarily on Route 66. The loose goal was to stop at every town or spot along the way that help inspire the movie ‘Cars’ in a significant way. We jumped on the ‘Mother Road’ around Lebanon, Mo. after visiting with some family there, and then tried to stick to the original road as much as possible, diverting onto Interstate 44 or 40 West only when required. Sure, I’ve criss-crossed the US on major highways many times, but pulling a 27 foot travel trailer along two lumpy lane roads with frequent stops for photos and souvenirs was a new one for me.
But do you know what we found? Really kind, fascinating people who love their communities, and fight daily to keep Route 66 vibrant and alive, even in the midst of a pandemic. I also found TONS of old cars scattered everywhere, without even going out of my way to find them
Yesterday’s feature got me digging into my archives – specifically, the pre-A directory. While doing so, I ran across a true gem that I had forgotten about. John Collins’ ’27 Ford Roadster Pickup.
Not a ton is known about John’s little race car. He brought it out to a 1947 S.C.T.A. meet as a Class B Roadster and ran as quick as 111 mph, but the car doesn’t appear on any other rosters as far as I can tell. And, I’ve never seen any other photographic evidence of the car at all.
So… This is all we have. It is, however, enough to be confident in the fact that the John Collins Roadster was cool as shit.
A brand new Flathead V8 block with a lot of the inherent issues from the original engineered out.
The perfect Ford-Mercury block! Outstanding casting quality thanks to modern foundry technology.
– Brand new, no cracks, no rust. High nickel content steel.
– Stronger everywhere it needs to be with thicker decks and main bearing bulkheads and larger main-bearing caps.
– Mains are aligned honed.
– 3-3/16-inch standard bore.
– 59AB-type bellhousing with 8BA refinements for improved coolant flow. Requires 1938-1948 oil pan.
– Drilled and tapped to accept 8BA or truck waterpumps.
– Drilled and tapped to accept either early (center outlet) or late (forward outlet) heads.
– Factory relieved (won’t accept Ardun heads).
– Bellhousing CNC-machined to fit Ford firewalls without modification.
– Long center head bolts (required) and rear main seal retainer are included.
– Glyptol painted valve-lifter valley, timing case, and crankshaft chamber for fast oil drain back
In their stock configuration and the way French flathead blocks have been sold previously the bosses, casting numbers, and pads for military applications do not fit most Ford passenger car applications without firewall modifications. SF Flathead blocks are precision milled to remove the unsightly “lumps.” Only a pad remains that carries a SF Flatheads serial number. Stop searching for a savable old Henry lump. This strong, high-nickel casting is the last flathead block you’ll ever need! Please call for availability. Truck shipping required. Rate quoted at order
Same high-quality new casting as the standard block plus:
– Original flow restriction in bowl removed and enlarged for uniform volume and increased flow.
– Intake ports machined larger and straightened for improved flow.
– Exhaust ports machined larger and radiused to improve exhaust gas flow.
Please call for availability. Truck shipping required. Rate quoted at order.
All features of our stage – 1 and 2 block plus the following:
– Lifter bores cut and drilled for ease of adjusting lifters
– Grind valve seats open to 1.6 on either intake, exhaust, or both at customer request
– Valve bowls smoothed and polished
– Exhaust ports polished and matched to customer provided headers
– Intake ports polished and matched to customer provided intake manifold
– Rear oil galley drilled and opened for full flow oil filter adapter system
Footnote – The engines have disappeared from the So-Cal site the link now goes to their Flathead page
I’d also suggest watching this thread on the HAMB as it appears a little lively on this subject!
I’ve long maintained that the best driving early Fords were made between 1936 and 1940. They ride fine, they handle great, and they stop predictably. Add a little power to the flathead and you’ve got everything you need for a daily driver that is pretty reliable and really easy to fix when shit does do what it does – break.
By contrast, the shoebox Ford doesn’t steer or stop nearly as well and later 50’s Fords don’t really handle at all. So, in my book… the sweet spot is that four or five years that ended the 1940’s.
This morning I was thinking about all of this when “32csr” posted an add in the classifieds for a 1940 Deluxe Convertible. It’s a survivor off the west coast and it ticks every damned box. The beauty of an untouched car is that no one has screwed it up yet and you get the honors all to yourself. Simply take that near perfect early Ford engineering and do your best not to confuse things while you:
Yesterday’s post got me thinking about financial responsibility and how we all justify this thing of ours. In most cases, obviously, there just isn’t justification for the money we spend on this stupid old stuff. You can talk about the appreciation of ’32 Fords or the investment side of collecting, but at the end of the day – if you buy or build any old car and then drive it regularly, you aren’t going to come out ahead in the end.
I’d argue that’s simply not the case. In fact, I know from experience that a very good way to get value out of an old car is to drive the damned thing every single day. Let me explain.
For almost a decade I didn’t own a car made after 1965. Instead, I avoided a car payment by driving whatever old heap I had at the time every single day. The best example I can give is my 1964 Ford F100. I drove it every day for five years
I should start by saying I don’t know Daniel Marshall personally, and I don’t even know if he’s a serious car guy, but his hot rod art was too interesting not to share here. The “Riders” collection of watercolors (that he very likely painted at the Race of Gentlemen) reminds me of Goro Sasaki’s art featured in the children’s book ‘Me, Dad, & Number 6’. I like the gesture and life to his work, as the original pencil sketch always feels intact and alive, just below the surface somehow.
Let’s say you’ve been saving for a few years, and really have your heart set on building an original Henry Ford steel ’32 Coupe or Roadster… Nice choice. But then you hit the classifieds and get some serious sticker shock at what a rotted-out body sitting on some bent rails with a frozen Flattie will cost you. Hmmm. So what cool coupe or open car from the late 20s/ early 30s can you get for about the same money as a Deuce? Leaving aside the more common Chevy or Plymouth alternatives, here’s some very unique offerings from the era that are about the same size as a Ford, wouldn’t be a bad start for a hot rod, and probably wouldn’t break the bank either! Unlike the big luxury cars from Packard, Duesenberg, or Auburn, these were all entry-level cars made in reasonable numbers, and if you look around long enough you might find some bargains out there.