Shades of the Past Award Winner - 1940 Ford Convertible

1940 Ford convertible began life as a hot rod when it was built in 1953 by Giles Morlock of Kingsport, Tennessee. Then the car became a local favorite and legend when it was sold to Sherman Utsman of Bluff City TN.  During the time Sherman owned the car, he changed out the Flathead in favor of a Chevrolet small block.  It was around 1957 when Wayne O’Neal first saw the 1940 Ford convertible which was a dream car to any Hot Rodder of that era. The Ford convertible was owned and driven by Sherman who at that time was a well-known race car driver in the area.  Wayne really admired this car and every Hot Rodder in the area would gather to see the car when Sherman brought it to town.  One time at a drive-in restaurant, a friend of Wayne’s, Jimmy Stalsworth, asked Sherman to take him for a ride, Utsman threw him (Jimmy) the keys and said “take it yourself”.  The guys were amazed; what a thrill!  The car was everyone’s dream during that time and to have the owner toss you the keys for a ride was a dream come true.  This Forty Ford Convertible and a 1932 Ford, called The Hillbilly, were the most popular cars in Wayne’s area at the time.  Wayne and the local hot rodders had a Hotrod Club called “The Road Angels” and Sherman would bring the Forty around to the clubhouse frequently.

In 1962 Sherman Utsman sold the car to Bill DeBusk.  Mr. DeBusk stored the car upon purchase and it was not driven again.  Over the years he stored he car in a barn on the farm.  When the tobacco season was in, the car was pulled out into a field and left until the tobacco was gone to the market and then pulled back into the barn again.  Everyone, including Wayne, tried to buy the car from Mr. DeBusk but he would always decline to sell it.  It seemed a shame as the car was deteriorating badly over the years.  In 2007 Wayne O’Neal bought the car from the DeBusk Estate.  A complete frame off restoration of the car was done by Wayne O’Neal and Max Keys, back to what the car was like in 1958.  The main reason for restoring the car was to save some of the local hot rod history. Wonder what ever happened to The Hillbilly coupe?  Talk about history… Wayne and his wife still have the 1932 Ford Sedan that they dated in and drove to High School in the fifties.

The interior is black & white and rolled & pleated by Freddy Hail who upholstered the car in 1958. Interior restored to original 1958 appearance. 

The exterior is PPG Black single stage paint. Bodywork by Wayne O’Neal and Max Keys. Paint by Jerry Collins. A few custom features were done, including chopping the top 4” and the body sectioned 4”. The top is a Carson Top.

The motor is a 1957 Chevrolet 283 bored .060 to make a 292 cubic inch, 1957 Fuel Injection heads and a 097 Dontov cam. Four-barrel carburetor. Transmission is a 1957 Chevrolet 3-speed.  

The frame is a 1940 Ford, front suspension Stock 1940 Ford with original Mor-Drop Axle. Rear suspension Leaf Springs by Ford equipped with a 1950 Mercury rear end with 4:27 gears.

The tires and wheels are 6:70 x 15 Diamondback wide whites mounted on 15 inch Ford Steel wheels dressed out with 1956 Oldsmobile 3-bar spinners.

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