Edsel Ford’s 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster Returns to its Original Glory

1934 Ford Model B

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For years it was feared that Edsel Bryant Ford’s 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster had been destroyed.  Photographed in Hollywood in the 1950s and then purchased by a U.S. Navy sailor in 1958 for $603, it was not seen again until 1999 when Bill Warner displayed it at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Now Edsel Ford’s restored one of a kind roadster has once again been unveiled.  Lincoln and the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House at The Lodge, Pebble Beach in Monterey County, California debuted the Speedster on August 19, 2011 with a second showing on August 21st.

Extensive restoration by award-winning RM-Auto Restoration in Ontario, Canada brought the one-of-a-kind beauty back to how it originally looked in 1940 following its final redesign by Edsel and designer E.T. Gregorie.  Many assumptions about the vehicle and its long journey were resolved during the yearlong restoration and it gives an indication of Edsel Ford’s design and automotive styling as President of Ford and the luxury Lincoln line.

“My grandfather was an early believer that everyday objects – including automobiles – could be seen as works of art,” said Edsel Ford II, who unveiled the Speedster. “While he wasn’t a designer in the traditional sense, his eye for styling and influence was apparent as he initiated and built the design department at Ford Motor Company.”

The Model 40 Special Speedster was unlike anything Ford Motor Company had built up until Edsel returned from a trip to Europe in 1932 and asked Gregorie to design and supervise construction of a personal sports car like those he saw there.

The “continental” roadster started with a stock 1934 Ford frame (aka Model 40) that was vastly altered so it appears longer and lower than its approximate 113-inch wheelbase.  The wheelbase of a standard 1934 Ford roadster is 112 inches.  It has a taper-tailed aluminum body with cut-down door openings and is mounted it over a custom welded tubular aluminum structural framework.

Painted in Pearl Essence Gunmetal Dark with gray leather upholstered interior, it features a flat, engine-tuned instrument panel incorporated Lincoln instruments of the period.  Powered by a stock 75-bhp, Ford Model 40 flathead, the 2,100 Speedster has straight exhausts enclosed by the bodywork with only the tips protruding.  bhp is brake horsepower, which is the amount of work generated by a motor under ideal conditions. This work is calculated without the consideration of effects of any auxiliary component that may slow down the actual speed of the motor. Brake horsepower is measured within the engine’s output shaft and was originally designed to calculate and compare the output of steam engines.

“The Model 40 Special Speedster was only enjoyed by Edsel for a few short years before his death in 1943, but its journey was just beginning,” said Ford House President Kathleen Mullins.  “Ford House is proud to give life to Edsel’s original vision for a unique, continental roadster.”

To learn more about Speedster’s travels through time, and view the restoration process, visit www.fordhouse.org.  For video footage of the Speedster, go to media.lincoln.com.

Author: Becky Donaldson

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