David Wade's 1939 Ford Coupe (from Volume 11, Issue 124)

Sometimes you can just tell that a car is a real runner. You don’t have to see the engine, you don’t have to see a list of the parts that went into building it - you can just hear the throaty, snappy exhaust note and know that it packs a wallop! Such was the case with David Wade’s 1939 Ford Standard Coupe, as we parked him along the winding brick promenade for our Beach Blast 10 car show at the Holiday Inn Cocoa Beach Resort last May 16th. I could tell right off that it had something special hidden under the hood. As it turns out, I was right.

David has been a car guy for a long time, and a lot of his roots lie in drag racing. He raced an A/Gas Anglia powered by a 426 Hemi in the 60’s, and also made many passes during numerous years in the Super Comp class. Putting together a powerful combo is nothing new to David, and in fact the big block in his ‘39 Ford used to be in an Altered that he raced in Super Comp....a car that ran 8.20s in the quarter mile. It is a 454 bored 0.060 over for a total displacement of 468 cubic inches. Add to that lots of primo goodies inside, a 6-71 blower, dual Holley carbs prepped by Barry Grant, an MSD ignition, and a set of wheel-well headers crafted by David himself and you wind up with a pretty good recipe for going fast....in a package that all fits under the hood! A dyno run confirmed it, as the rat motor produced over 800 horses. And if that is not enough, the nitrous button is at David’s disposal for a little extra. Rounding out the driveline is a John Winters’ 350 Turbo with a TCI converter, Lokar shifter, and 3.55 gears in the 9” Ford rear end.

With all that power produced, there is also plenty of heat generated, so David knew he’d have to come up with something good to keep it running cool on some of those hot Florida days. This included using seven fans, two radiators, and a 7-gallon reservoir. Exiting the engine the coolant’s first destination is a rear mounted radiator, then it goes into the 7-gallon aluminum reservoir tank. A thermostat is used, and when the water in the reservoir gets up to temperature it is then passed to the radiator in front, and back into the engine. Bob Fett of Cooled By I.C.E. in Sarasota, Florida made the custom aluminum radiators, while the remainder of the system was fabricated and installed by David himself. He told us the car will stay at 170 degrees, regardless of the conditions he is driving in, so obviously the plan was a success.

Speed is not all this ‘39 has to offer though, as there is also a generous helping of style to complete the package. One of the most notable changes is the 3-inch chopped top, which David did in his home garage in Palatka. It is just enough to accentuate the hot rod look of the car, but no too much that it would ruin the proportions and flowing lines already inherent to a ‘39 Ford. The exterior has a few other subtle mods, including shaving the drip rails, filling the cowl vent, rounding the corners of the doors and decklid, utilizing a Honda Civic gas door in the rear fender, and flush mounting a third brake light below the rear window. David applied the great looking Lazer Red metallic paint himself at his home garage, and retained the original trim, taillights, headlights, bumpers and rubber running boards. The nice stance is enhanced by the gleaming American Racing salt flats rims, fitted with Halibrand tri-bar centers.

Inside you’ll find a Wabbit’s wood dashboard fitted with an assortment of Classic Instruments gauges, and a LeCarra steering wheel perched upon a Chevelle steering column. Behind the bucket seats is the Vintage Air system, plus the car’s dual battery setup. Upholstery duties were passed on to the Terry Brothers in Jacksonville, Florida, and consist of tan cloth and leather.

David showed us a time slip from when he ran the car down the Gainesville Raceway quarter mile that shows an elapsed time of 9.88 seconds at 138.03 mph.....and told us that was with the transmission in Drive, and the air conditioning running! However, even sitting motionless in a car show parking lot this one still gets lots of attention as it is a great combination of style, quality craftsmanship, good taste....and yeah, speed! CN