First ’40

Al­loway’s Premier ’40 Ford Coupe is the New Black


Larry Cloninger’s ’40 Ford coupe

Larry Cloninger is a full-fledged Ford fan. Af­ter all, the Char­lotte, North Carolina, area has three Cloninger Ford deal­er­ships. But de­spite his ded­i­ca­tion to Fords, Larry had never owned a ’40. That all changed a few years ago when he de­cided to rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion with the street rod you see here.

You may have al­ready seen Larry’s jet-black DeLuxe coupe at the SEMA Show in Novem­ber or in Jan­uary in the Al­loway’s Hot Rod Shop dis­play at the Grand Na­tional Road­ster Show. Bobby Al­loway built the car, but many Ford fans know that E.T. “Bob” Gre­gorie orig­i­nally de­signed the ’40 Ford. Ed­sel Ford hired 22-year-old Gre­gorie in

1931. By the time he was 30, Gre­gorie had de­signed the ’36 Lin­coln Ze­phyr, the first Mer­cury, the pro­to­type for the Lin­coln Con­ti­nen­tal, and the car con­sid­ered by a many peo­ple to be Henry Ford’s best look­ing: the ’40 Ford.

Gre­gorie’s fa­mous de­sign has in­spired thou­sands of rod­ders, in­clud­ing Larry’s friend Mike Ste­wart, an exec at Cloninger Au­to­mo­tive Group, who owns a small cor­ral of ’39 and ’40 Fords. Larry talked to Ste­wart about find­ing the right raw ma­te­rial for his own project. One par­tic­u­lar ’40 Ford coupe that ap­pealed to Larry was the 2012 STREET ROD­DER Road Tour car (fea­tured on­line at ar­ti­cles/1212sr-road-tour-1940-ford), built with a Ford Coy­ote en­gine and a Den­nis Car­pen­ter Ford Restora­tion Parts 19-gauge steel re­pro­duc­tion body shell.

The fact that Den­nis Car­pen­ter is lo­cated just a few miles away made the body choice easy. The next choice was se­lect­ing the right shop to build the coupe. When Larry started list­ing his pref­er­ences for the car—an ag­gres­sive stance, a big en­gine, black paint—Ste­wart told him, “You’re de­scrib­ing what Bobby Al­loway builds.” Ste­wart was par­tially right. What Larry de­scribed is the Al­loway’s Hot Rod Shop style, but as Al­loway told us, his shop had never built a full ’40 Ford be­fore.

The build started with the re­pro­duc­tion body, Larry’s ideas, and a con­cept draw­ing from de­signer Eric Brock­meyer. By start­ing with a new body, Al­loway and the Al­loway’s

Hot Rod Shop team could by­pass the dam­age re­pair that is part of many street rod builds. Even so, they still had to chase the ex­te­rior parts not found in the Den­nis Car­pen­ter cat­a­log, adding an orig­i­nal hood, grille, dash, and gar­nish mold­ings.

Gre­gorie’s de­sign from al­most 80 years ago has not gone out of style and Al­loway hon­ored it with Larry’s coupe. Trim was added, along with door han­dles, locks, and other hard­ware. Head­lights and tail­lights are re­pro­duc­tion pieces. The re­pro bumpers are tucked into the body.

There was bit of care­ful and sub­tle cos­metic surgery per­formed to the sheet­metal. The gaps be­tween the hood and fend­ers on stock ’40 Fords are no­to­ri­ously un­even, and the nose ap­pears to rise slightly from rear to front. Al­loway’s fab­ri­ca­tors sliced and gently re­shaped the fend­ers at the hood to con­form to the shape of the hood, per­fect­ing the gaps. The hood it­self was pie-cut and low­ered just enough to im­prove the pro­file. The stock hood trim was cut and short­ened to look un­mod­i­fied on the re­shaped hood. STREET ROD­DER pho­tographed the process (https://­stc). The doors were ex­tended to re­duce the gap above the run­ning boards. The front fend­ers were pushed for­ward, con­sis­tent with the length­ened wheel­base. Later, the car was painted deep black—Larry’s choice and Al­loway’s trade­mark. The mir­ror fin­ish is ac­com­plished with PPG Del­tron 9700 black paint. Chrome has to re­ally stand out against that paint and

Dan’s Pol­ish­ing Shop in Adamsville, Ten­nessee, made sure it does.

The stance and ride qual­ity was achieved with a cus­tom chas­sis build around 2x4-inch boxed fram­erails.

An Art Mor­ri­sion En­ter­prises

Bikini IFS Clip with coilovers, plus De­troit Speed spin­dles and steer­ing were in­stalled at the fron­tend. Out back, a Cur­rie 9-inch rear with

4.56:1 gears is sus­pended by a Pete and Jakes four-link with Al­dan coilovers and a P&J Pan­hard bar. Brak­ing is pro­vided by a Kugel Kom­po­nents pedal as­sem­bly and Wil­wood mas­ter cylin­der plumbed to Wil­wood six-pis­ton calipers and 13-inch discs at all wheels. That ag­gres­sive pos­ture Larry was look­ing for is fur­ther en­hanced by the wheel and tire com­bi­na­tion fill­ing the coupe’s fend­ers. Cus­tom Al­loway ET wheels from Bil­let Spe­cial­ties are 17x7s in front wrapped with high-per­for­mance Toyo Ex­tensa HP II tires. In back, 20x10 wheels roll on 265/50R20 Toyo rub­ber.

A pair of re­designed ’64 Thun­der­bird bucket seats were up­hol­stered in flat black leather to con­trast the shiny paint. Steve Hol­comb at Pro Auto Cus­tom In­te­ri­ors in Knoxville han­dled the job, in­clud­ing the black cloth head­liner, Day­tona weave car­pet, and the nar­row pack­age tray hid­ing the bat­tery. Clas­sic In­stru­ments cre­ated the ’40s-in­spired gauges. The Le­carra two-spoke steer­ing wheel and the Hurst shifter in­ject some ’60s fla­vor and fit Al­loway’s dis­tinc­tive hot rod style. The trunk floor fea­tures two small slide doors, one cov­er­ing a stor­age com­part­ment, the other cov­er­ing the bat­tery on/off switch. A pull-down door in the back panel al­lows ac­cess to the Rock Val­ley 15-gal­lon stain­less fuel tank.

The “over-the-top” en­gine re­quire­ment is taken care of by a car­bu­reted 429 from Jon Kaase Rac­ing En­gines. The 700hp Kaase Boss Nine is backed by an Amer­i­can Pow­er­train TREMEC TKO five-speed trans­mis­sion. It took some fab­ri­ca­tion to pack all that mo­tor be­tween the fend­ers of the ’40, es­pe­cially af­ter the big Kaase en­gine was fit­ted with a Bil­let Spe­cial­ties Tru Trac ser­pen­tine sys­tem, Vin­tage Air A/C com­pres­sor, Pow­er­mas­ter al­ter­na­tor, and Bar­il­laro Speed Em­po­rium full-length head­ers. Cus­tom in­ner fend­ers were fab­ri­cated, the fire­wall was re­cessed, and the trans­mis­sion tun­nel was formed to make room. A cus­tom ra­di­a­tor sup­port was built for the Walker ra­di­a­tor.

The most chal­leng­ing ob­sta­cle was fit­ting the steer­ing shaft, since the straight path from the ididit col­umn was blocked by a Boss Nine cylin­der head. Al­loway’s so­lu­tion was to mount a Wizard Fab­ri­ca­tion Steer Clear off­set steer­ing cou­pler on the in­side of the fire­wall, mov­ing the shaft ap­prox­i­mately 6 inches to­ward the out­side of the en­gine com­part­ment, and thread­ing the shaft be­tween the header pipes.

The fin­ished ’40 was dis­played promi­nently at its 2017 SEMA Show de­but. It started the new year in

Los An­ge­les at the Grand Na­tional Road­ster Show and will con­tinue on the show cir­cuit for the rest of 2018. Af­ter that, it’s home to North Carolina, where the beau­ti­ful black coupe will be en­joyed on the street and dis­played in Larry’s deal­er­ship show­rooms. Larry is very happy with how his ’40 DeLuxe street rod turned out. We have to be­lieve that Bob Gre­gorie would be too.

For the dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence:

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