1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster Minichamps - 437082080 (resin)
Born in 1894, in Detroit, Michigan, Edsel Ford was Henry Ford’s only son. Soon after his son’s birth, Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company. When Edsel graduated from the Detroit University in 1912, he came to work for his father. Despite having a very different managing style than his father, in 1919 Henry Ford appointed him President of Ford Motor. While his father was extremely practical and pragmatic, Edsel kept a more open mind to new ideas. With that style of thinking, he was instrumental in keeping Ford afloat during the Great Depression. The Ford Model A, the car that kept Ford out of the red, was his creation. Moreover, he was also responsible for successfully restructuring the Lincoln brand after his father bought it in 1922. And just as important, he also had a keen eye for styling – Edsel created Ford’s first styling department.
Edsel would frequently travel to Europe to see what Europeans were doing in terms of style. In 1932, returning from one such trip, he met with E. T. Gregory. At just 22 years of age, Gregorie was recently hired for the Ford styling department. Inspired by European cars, Edsel proposed to Gregorie the construction of a speedster with European lines. According to Gregorie’s memoir, Edsel wanted a “little boat-tail speedster with cycle fenders”. After approving Gregorie’s sketches, the project started out as a standard 1934 Model 40 112” (2845 mm) wheelbase frame. The car would have an aluminum body and Edsel wanted it to be “long, low and rakish”. He wanted the design to blend Art Deco principles with coach-building trends seen on Bugattis and Delahayes. For the engine they used a 221 ci (3.621 cm³) flat-head V8, which developed 75 hp.
To make the car “long, low and rakish”, Gregorie relocated the cockpit to the rear. Moreover, he stretched the frame by 1” and underslung the chassis at the rear, making it distinctly lower. When finished, Edsel painted it in “Pearl Essence Gunmetal Dark”. Because of the format of the radiator grills and the (insufficient) venting louvers on the sides of the hood, the engine overheated. Furthermore, the extreme winter of 1939-40 caused fluids to freeze and crack the engine block. With that, Edsel had a new engine installed, this time a Ford-Mercury 239 ci (3.916 cm³) flat-head V8 that delivered 100 hp. Gregorie also designed a new front end, with a wider horizontal grille for improved cooling. Edsel kept the Special Speedster in his estate garage, and drove it frequently in good weather. However, at the age of 49, in 1943 he passed away because of stomach cancer.
After Edsel Ford’s untimely death, the car changed hands quite a few times.In 2008 the Edsel & Eleanor Ford Estate finally bought it back, and in 2010 sent it for restoration. They contracted RM Restorations in Blenheim, Ontario, which restored the car to its original 1940 form. With the restoration finished, the car debuted at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on August 19, 2011. It was a show-stopper, looking more like a modern restomod than something designed and fabricated 70 years earlier. Currently the car is on permanent display at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.
It took me a long while to get this beauty. Not because it was expensive, or hard to find. On the contrary, in fact. The problem was that I wasn’t sure which one to get. You see, Minichamps offers two versions of the car, the original 1934 version and the 1940 version. After sitting on it for almost two years(!) I finally decided on the 1940 car. I certainly think I couldn’t go wrong with either of them, yet I opted for how the car looks today. However, looking at the model now, I feel tempted to get the earlier version too…
The model comes in a special presentation box, with a little of the history of the car printed on the back. It is a limited edition – mine is unit #339 of a 999 run. The model is resin, and not diecast, and it is utterly gorgeous. Especially the paint job, that literally shines. Detail level is fantastic, and at least from the photos I’ve seen, it looks like Minichamps nailed it. With that, even though it’s not what I would call a “regular” model for the W-143 Garage, this thing rocks. Definitively one of those models you should have just because it is so darn good.