We all remember our favorite car in high school and for Don it was the 1940 Ford coupe.
Don’s best friend had a ’40 deluxe coupe and they spent many Friday nights cruising down Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel Valley, So Cal. Luckily Don’s father got tired of driving his 47 Ford deluxe coupe and we were able to cruise Valley Blvd and go to the Starlight drive-in in Rosemead.
After our marriage, we rented a small house in Alhambra. One day in 1964, due to a detour, Don had to take a side street and noticed a typical old 2-bedroom house with the long driveway and single car garage. Parked in front of that garage was a 1940 Ford standard coupe. Don pulled over and walked to the front door to ask If the car might be for sale. The lady at the door said her husband had left her and just wanted the car gone! She said she wanted $50, but said Don would have to tow it as it would not start. It turned out to be that her husband had left the flywheel bolts off.
The flathead looked stock but it turned out to be bored and stroked and was scary fast.
Once we decided to move to Northern California in 1965, we also decided to sell our ’40 number 1.
Fast forward to 2014 – while looking on Craig’s list, we noticed a ’40 Deluxe in Santa Rosa that needed a lot of TLC. The seller had purchased some replacement parts and there were boxes of parts yet to be installed. When we settled on a price, the seller said he had owned the car for less than a year and had lost interest in restoring the car. The seller also said that he had purchased the car from his close friend Steve Eigenman who had owned the car since 1964 (same year we bought ’40 number 1). Steve was also a lifetime resident of Santa Rosa. The seller also shared that he had history and some photos of Steve’s ownership.
The next photo is of Steve sitting in the car dated July, 1964.
The first known owner, in the late 50’s, was Bud Biddle who was the public address guy at the Cotati Raceway. Bud sold the car to Don Leisen, a long time resident of Santa Rosa.
Don sold the car to Steve in ’64. The original ’64 registration was still on steering column.
This next photo shows Steve and a buddy sanding the car in October,1965. The original paint, was “Cloud Mist Gray” seen under the dark red paint. The trunk area and under the dashboard still exhibits samples of the original paint.
Steve was really into the drag race scene and made a lot of performance changes to reduce his ET’s.
The other piece of history the seller related was that the ’40 was actually used in the 1979 movie for TV titled “Hot Rod” A.K.A. “Rebel of the Road”.
In one dark and very short scene Steve is street racing Steve Castelli in his hemi Willys coupe. The other drag strip scenes are filmed at Fremont Raceway.
Steve is no longer with us as he’s in hot rod heaven but thankfully photos and information were kept by his family and friends and passed along to us.
Our second ’40 has gone through the usual “rolling restoration” route, safety items first followed by chassis, body and drivetrain. Our goal was to keep our ’40 on the road as much as possible and add to its rolling history.
– Submitted by Don & Gloria C