- *Fully restored
- *Built by David Pearson
- *Flathead V8
- *3-speed manual
- *Original trim
- *Original owners manual
For NASCAR fans, David Pearson needs no introduction. He currently holds second place on NASCAR's all-time win list, and is the driver that chased Richard Petty to greatness. Petty himself says: “Pearson could beat you on a short track, he could beat you on a superspeedway, he could beat you on a road course, he could beat you on a dirt track. It didn't hurt as bad to lose to Pearson as it did to some of the others, because I knew how good he was." David Pearson was among the inaugural class of inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, receiving the most votes from 50 of the 53 voters.
Speaking of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, this 1939 Ford tudor sedan is the very car that Pearson drove to the induction ceremony from his home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Beginning his career in Fords, it is only fitting that a Ford should carry him to the Hall of Fame, and this one does it in style. A very mild custom, perhaps too conservative to even be called a hot rod, it is nonetheless an extremely clean and well-restored example built by one of the truly great drivers of our time. And as his personal car, you know that everything is fully sorted and works as it should; you don't win that many races driving inferior hardware, and Pearson's dedication to excellence definitely extends to his personal collection.
David Pearson is definitely not a trailer queen kind of guy, and this Ford, while extremely well restored, proudly shows signs of being driven. The paint was expertly applied over beautifully prepped Henry Ford steel, and has a deep, soft luster that looks highly authentic on the 72 year old body. The color is probably a pretty good approximation of Garnet Maroon, which was on the color palette for 1939 despite Henry Ford's objection to red paints. History is next to impossible to restore into a car, so while some folks may see paint with some years behind it, it's absolutely unthinkable to consider changing it, and I'm sure Mr. Pearson would agree. It also means that you won't be afraid to drive it, which is what this car was designed to do.
All the original trim remains in place as well—as I said, this isn't a custom or a resto-mod by any stretch of the imagination. The stainless is brilliantly polished, and the chrome bumpers, like the paint, have a nice patina that you just can't duplicate. Fitted with accessories like fog lights, dual side mirrors, and bumper guards, this is a nicely dressed car that isn't over-done. The iconic teardrop-shaped headlights and tail lamps are originals, not reproductions, and you can see why they've become so popular with modern hot-rodders: they're gorgeous. All the glass is good, with no signs of delamination or bubbling that often happens with older pieces.
The engine is a correct 24-stud flathead V8 with aluminum heads and a 2-barrel Stromberg carburetor perched way up top. Making 90 horsepower (although everyone collectively refers to the 221 motors as “85 horsepower”) with a relatively tame 6.12:1 compression ratio, it remained a durable, torque powerplant whose adaptability made it a favorite of racers like Pierson in the early days of motorsports. It has undoubtedly been rebuilt, and probably sports a few hot-rodding tricks inside if you can believe the cam cards that accompany the car. The block has been painted to match the body, the heads are raw aluminum, and the original front-mounted distributor remains. Pearson's ownership also practically guarantees that the flathead's overheating issues have been completely resolved, and the original six volt generator is a big vote of confidence for the original electrical system. Those radiator hoses look like they may be NOS pieces with original ink stampings on them, but with reproductions being as good as they are today, it's hard to be certain.
The original 3-speed manual still lives behind the engine and shifts beautifully, driving the original banjo-style rear end. The floors are finished in body color, while the frame and suspension components are satin black. Up front, the beam axle and transverse leaf spring remains, with the sole upgrade being a set of modern tube shocks. The same holds true out back: a leaf spring augmented by a set of coil over tubular shocks to help maintain right height and perhaps add a little extra grip in the corners. Four-wheel drums were finally hydraulically actuated in 1938, a welcome addition and a big performance upgrade for Ford fans. There's also a dual exhaust system tucked neatly up into the frame rails, apparently installed when the car was new and giving the flathead its traditional sound through a pair of chrome tips under the rear bumper. It all rides on a set of 16-inch Ford steel artillery wheels wearing V8 hubcaps and trim rings, along with a set of 600-16 wide whitewall bias ply tires with tubes.
The warm, welcoming interior looks straight of pre-war America, complete with simple fabrics, tasteful use of wood graining on the dash, and lovely art deco gauge faces. All the Bakelite plastic knobs and handles remain in excellent condition, and the banjo steering wheel is a work of art. The seats have obviously been reupholstered, but the work is appropriate to the vintage of the car, and it's surprisingly comfortable, too, with vast legroom in back. Radios were rare in 1939, and this car has provisions for one, but it was never installed, however on Deluxe models, a clock in the glove box lid was standard equipment. A rubber floor mat protects the carpets up front, fitted beautifully around the shifter that extends gracefully up from the floor. The trunk is surprisingly spacious given the car's fastback profile, and holds a matching spare tire and wheel assembly.
Documentation includes an original owner's manual, a bunch of period Ford brochures and advertisements, as well as original cam cards for the Isky cam that is undoubtedly living in the engine. There's also a spare oil filter cartridge, because you're going to want to drive this car every chance you get.
If this were just a nice 1939 Ford Deluxe tudor, I'd say that it's a rare find in this condition—most have been cut up into hot rods. But adding in the David Pearson connection and the fact that it is a very well-known car adds tremendously to its value. The '39 Ford was apparently Pearson's favorite model, as RK Motors Charlotte has now featured two of his vehicles, and both of them are benchmark cars for traditional and tasteful modifications. And as Mr. Pearson himself demonstrated, this is still an excellent driver that you should not hesitate to jump in and drive whenever the opportunity presents itself. If you're a '39 Ford fan, a NASCAR fan, or a David Pearson fan (or all three!), you owe it to yourself to put this lovely tudor sedan in your collection today. Call now!
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