Gerry Houck's 1947 Ford Convertible (from May, 2002)

Gerry Houck has been building cars since 1959, and currently has several unique rides at his Merritt Island, Florida home. With his latest project he decided to turn back the clock, so to speak. He made this 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Cabriolet into a post-war period hot rod, a task he had always wanted to take on.

Gerry had a good foundation with which to start, as the car was restored to original specs back in Michigan during the early 90’s, and even won a prestigious AACA Senior award. It was then modernized in the mid 90’s for street use, and Gerry purchased it at the 3rd Annual GoodGuys Spring Nationals in April, 2001.

The most unique thing about the car has to be the engine, which was built by Gerry and Jim Lacoy, the auto mechanics teacher at Astronaut High School in Titusville. The flathead mill was fitted with a Mercury stroker forged crank, and an Isky 3/4 race cam. A set of rare Canadian Ford aluminum heads, which were not available on American cars, were then polished and installed. But the piece de resistance is the very rare 1939 McCullough supercharger. Through a stroke of luck, Gerry was able to purchase both the heads and the supercharger from Glen McGlone, who is an old dirt track racer, the curator of the Birthplace Of Speed in Daytona, and a Director of the Early V-8 Club. This unique unit sits horizontal, and delivers about three pounds of boost. Hand made machined aluminum pulleys and tensioners were crafted by Lee Dodd, an old Indy Car racer who was inducted into the Indy Hall of Fame, and lives in the area. An electric fuel pump and regulator provide the fossil fuel, which is sparked by a 12 volt Mallory electronic ignition. A standard 3-speed transmission drives back to a Mitchell 2-speed rear end, which effectively doubles the available gears and provides an overdrive for highway travel. After the 2-1/2 months it took to rebuild the engine is was put on a dyno, where it made 208 horse power. Though Don Garlits has the same engine in his museum (with both the rare heads and supercharger), Gerry’s is probably the only running one in this configuration. It certainly attracts attention, and is a real conversation piece at the shows.

The exterior of the car was kept totally original and painted Wheat Yellow (a stock color). Exterior add-ons include a set of fender skirts, spotlights, fog lights, whitewall radial tires and flipper hub caps. The ride height was altered with lowered front and rear transverse springs, and aluminum shock towers with air shocks smooth out the oncoming pavement. Inside the car retains the stock look as well, with the upholstery done up in maroon vinyl with a tan cloth insert.

The whole car came back together at the end of March, and Gerry has certainly been having a blast with it so far. As for the “Karate Kid” name on the doors, that came when someone pointed out that it looks just like the car from the movie of the same name. Though Gerry declined to do any Karate moves for our camera, you can be sure he has done the “wax on, wax off” move many times in his life. CN