1934 Edsel Ford’s Model 40 Special Speedster

  • 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster™. Owned and restored by Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster
Collection of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI

Edsel B. Ford, President of Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan, asked his styling chief, Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie, to build a “continental” roadster that could have limited production potential. Gregorie sketched alternatives and then built a 1/25th scale model that he tested in a small wind tunnel. Because of its 1934 Ford (also known as Model 40) origins, the roadster became known as the Model 40 Special Speedster.

Assisted by Ford Aircraft personnel, Gregorie’s team fabricated a taper-tailed aluminum body, mounted over a custom welded tubular structural framework. This car resembles the 1935 Miller-Ford Indianapolis 500 two-man racecars, but it was designed and built prior to their construction. This car’s long, low proportions were unlike anything Ford Motor Company had ever built. The Speedster weighs about 2,100 pounds. Its engine is now a 100-brake horsepower Mercury flathead V-8.

This Model 40 was one of Edsel Ford’s personal vehicles. After his death in 1943, the Speedster passed through several owners. Bill Warner, founder of Florida’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, read an article that mentioned that the Model 40 Special Speedster was owned by a fellow Floridian. Warner tracked the Speedster down, bought it, and later sold it to Texas mega-collector John O’Quinn. After O’Quinn died in 2009, Edsel Ford II arranged for the speedster’s purchase. In August 2010, this car was restored by RM Restorations, Blenheim, Ontario, Canada.

Sponsored by: Joanne and Tom Cato

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