Greg Lombardo's 1940 Ford Coupe
(from Volume 25, Issue 301)

story by owner Greg Lombardo, photos by Michael B. Kelly


I always had a love of Hot Rods, but it was not until 1996 that my adventure began. I was so very lucky to have a group of friends, that my wife Carol and I had known for over 20 years then. We did everything together as our children grew up, including attending the football games, graduations, and then our children getting married. It was a group of 5 couples, and we started to go on vacations together then. Two of the men from the group attended the NSRA event in York, Pennsylvania that year, and one of them came home with a hot rod. Within a week or two, the other one had also purchased a ‘38 Chevy. I was surprised at how fast it all happened, because it wasn’t anything that we had really talked about seriously. To say the least, I was jealous! My wife and I began talking about it, and I said that I had always wanted a 1940 Ford.

One day in September my Son came home from work, all excited, and said “Dad, I know where there is a 1940 Ford, kept in a garage, in great condition, and the guy wants to sell it”. He insisted that I go look at it. I hesitated, not sure that I could really afford to do that at the time. But, within a day, my wife and I talked about it and decided that I needed to go look. When the man opened the garage door, my heart went pitter patter. I was in love. The owner was a car collector, but he didn’t like to drive them. After a couple weeks of talking, and negotiating, the car was mine! Within a week or so, the car was in pieces on the garage floor. Fenders in the den, the hood on the pool table. My wife was sure it would never move again. I spent the winter working on it all the time.

It was basically all original, except for the engine, which at the time was a 350. I located a low mileage 327, and with the help of a close friend, we took it down to the bare block. Paul loved to work on cars, especially race cars, and he helped me get the engine in the car, and running like a champ. He also did a few modifications to give it a little more power. I was again lucky to have a couple friends who knew what to do and help me find the parts, and put it together. We installed a Mustang II front end, with a power rack and pinion steering. I changed the rear end from the ‘57 Chevy unit that was in it to a Ford 8-inch with 3.00:1 gears.

By July of 1997 the car was ready for its maiden voyage. We went to Worchester, Massachusetts for our first show. Our group consisted of about 8 cars and we drove in a caravan, and my love of street rodding was now in full swing. I was hooked! I was amazed to learn just how many cars were out there, and how big the hobby really was. We attended the York, Pennsylvania NSRA show again, which at the time had over 5,000 cars. I had no idea. Later in the fall we drove down to Tampa, Florida to attend the NSRA Southeast Nations in October. We had heard about Old Town from our friends, so that Saturday we left the Tampa Fairgrounds and drove to Kissimmee, Florida to attend the Saturday Night Cruise at Old Town. I loved it there, and later that night I won a checkered flag at the stage. Again, I was hooked! I made a promise to myself that I was never coming to Florida again without my car, and I was going back to Old Town.

Over the next few years we were constantly changing things, adding new things, and talking to lots of vendors at the big shows for whatever I could get to make it more drivable and comfortable. I ended up re-wiring the car with a new Ron Francis wiring harness, and installed Vintage Air for comfort. I replaced the dash with a new one and installed red digital gauges. The car has American Racing Torgue Thrust chromed aluminum wheels, and a dual exhaust system.

For years my friends and I had so many wonderful times going to car shows. We would attend the fall Wildwood, New Jersey show on the boardwalk every year, and Ocean City, Maryland fall show in October. We also attended the Goodguys show in Ohio, and Charlotte, South Carolina. I will never forget the thrill of driving my street rod on the Lowes Motor Speedway at the Goodguys show. The car has also been to Myrtle Beach for the Pee Dee Street Rodders show in March several times. One year, just the men drove our cars to Louisville, Kentucky for the Street Rod Nationals, where there were over 12,000 cars. We had so many wonderful times, and made so many friends over the years that I can’t imagine another hobby I could have engaged in that would give me so much pleasure.

Along the way we started thinking about how we wanted to repaint it, as the car still had the original burgundy paint that most old cars had at the time. We attended the SEMA show in Las Vegas in 2004 and we saw something that we really liked; True Fire flames. We joked about how that would look on the front of the ‘40, as it had the old traditional flames on it at the time. We never thought that would be a possibility for us, as we were sure it would be way too expensive. Again, fate kicked in. Our car was damaged by a stone truck and pebbles had flown all over the front of the car. Our insurance company said we needed a paint job. So we decided to paint it black. The man painting it said, start looking at flame jobs that you like, and let’s decide what to do on the front. Then one morning he called and asked me to come up to the shop. There was a man there who painted motorcycles....and he did the True Fire flames! I couldn’t believe it. We worked out a deal that if I helped, and I was patient, he would paint the flames on my car for a reasonable price. It was the first car he ever did, and he was nervous, but we jumped in and went to work. Everything that was put in the car was a labor of love. Mostly being helped by friends, and doing it myself. But everything about it was fun, and something that is irreplaceable.

We started talking about retiring, and our daughter lived in Florida, so soon the process began of moving to Florida. We used to joke about making sure we found a place close to Old Town so that we could go there all the time. And the ultimate dream was that maybe we could even get a job there when we retired! Most of the friends in our group also moved to Florida, but unfortunately health issues took its toll. Part of the dream did come true, and for the last 8 years I have had the pleasure of working at Old Town and being an integral part of the cruises. We have made so many friends and had so much fun doing that. I would advise anyone who really loves cars to get involved, join a group, and have some fun. There is such a bond with car people, and for the most part, everyone is friendly and helpful.

The car is at the stage of needing some TLC, and I am hoping to spend a little time getting it back to perfect. Bucket list hopes are to go to the Pigeon Forge show, maybe do the Gulf Coast Cruise, or the Power Tour. We are hoping to get to a couple more large shows, held once a year, before we can no longer do those things. CN