Flathead Freeway Flyer: 1946 Flathead In A 1935 Ford Two-Door Sedan

If you don’t believe a flathead can travel the U.S trouble-free, Dave Dean will be glad to prove that it can if you’re willing to follow him. We caught up with Dave at the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nats, one of the events he never misses!

flathead

When asked “How many long distance trips do you take in this car?” He remarked: “We’ve taken many trips to different car shows around the country in our Ford . We always drive the car, never trailer it,” he added.

flathead

“Dual pots,” in the old vernacular, was used to describe the dual carbs on the flathead. Sadly those days are long gone, but the engines aren’t!

“We’ve driven to Oberlin, Kansas, Counts of the Cobblestone in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and Americruise in Lincoln, Nebraska. We’ve hit Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, the NSRA Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, the Shades of the Past show in Dollywood, Tennessee.” Dave took a deep breath and continued, “The Frog Follies in Indiana, Back to the ’50s event in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Early Iron Run in Alamosa, Colorado.”

Just to let you know where they live and where they start most of their trips, Dave and Becky Dean reside in Denver, Colorado. It’s tough living in Denver if you like go rod running, because you gotta plan on driving two or three days to get to the larger events.

flathead

The grille has been painted, and with the Torque thrust wheels added, this sedan has a serious hot rod look.

So, we asked Dave to tell us about his car and its 1946 ’59 AB flathead engine. Dave found his 1935 Ford two-door sedan in a farmer’s field in Eastern Colorado with weeds up to the window sills. The fabric roof was gone, there wasn’t much left of the interior, and the floor was partially gone. Dave thought maybe it’d be a good car to rebuild, so he went up to the farmer’s house and purchased the car right then and there.

Not only are the rare flatback ’35s cool looking, but everyone loves them.

Over the next five years, Dave and friends rebuilt the car in a one-car garage. Jeff Andreen gets credit for rebuilding the 1946 flathead engine, and behind the engine is a C4 automatic transmission hooked it to an 8-inch Ford rearend. In front of that, they added a Walker radiator. Finally, those are Torque Thrust II American Racing wheels and Goodyear Eagle tires mounted on the rearend and the 4-inch drop axle Dave hung in the front.

Bucket seats replace the non-existent bench seat. The interior is done in the color Mauve, by Kelvin Bogle of Arvada, Colorado. Tall shifter controls a C4 automatic transmission.

Then, he rebuilt a 1938 Ford steering box for the car. He installed the engine and pieced the car back together, keeping the stock tail lights and headlight buckets. The next thing he did was take the car to John Curtis in Aurora, Colorado, to chop it 3-inches and fill the top. From there, it went to Don Sprague, who finished the bodywork and painted the car Mazda Winning Blue. Lastly, he had Kelvin Bogle of Arvada Upholstery Shop install the interior and carpet.

As we said before, Dave and Becky Dean like to travel in their ’35 Ford, collecting memories along the way. These trips lead to chance encounters like this: “Our trip to Yellowstone was fun. We got a chance to go to more places than most tourists get to go. We attended the Yellowstone Rod Run, and were driving through the park with the other attendees when came across a large male buffalo standing in the middle of the road,” Dave explained.

I guess he wasn’t a roadster enthusiast either!   – Dave Dean

“The guy in front of us was in a ‘32 roadster, and of course, everyone had to stop. The buffalo walked up to the roadster and stuck his big head into the car, within inches of the driver’s face. He stood there breathing on the driver and the driver never looked at him or moved. We were wondering if the buffalo was going to get in the car, hurt the guy, or just walk away. Eventually he just walked away. I guess he wasn’t a roadster enthusiast either!”

Most people these days think they must have a 600 horse, late-model V8 to travel the highways and byways of this great country. That’s simply not true – every car built before Chevrolet’s 1955 V8 introduction (with the exception of an 1949 Olds or Cadillac overhead valve V8) was powered by a flathead V8 or a flathead six cylinder, and people got around this great country just fine – not exactly at 85 or 90 mph, or on an Interstate, but by maintaining a reasonable and proper speed for a two-lane highway.

Dave and Becky have put more than 60,000 miles on their flathead-powered Ford since they built it, and have no regrets about their engine choice. After the Americruise in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2006, Dave added air conditioning to the car and have had no problems with it at all.

When asked to tell us more traveling stories, Dave recalled several about their trips, but here’s his favorite: “On one of our trips, we were coming back from Kentucky, and we were run off the road in Topeka, Kansas. A family in a car behind us on the freeway pulled in and put on their emergency flashers to see if we were Okay. We called someone from the NSRA booklet we carry in the car. We were told the place to take the car to get it repaired so we could continue on and get home,” he said with a slight pause.

The original banjo steering wheel still works fines. Note V8 emblem in the door panels.

“We also called AAA to have the car towed to the place the guy had told us. AAA asked us if we were sure we wanted to go there as it was in a really bad part of town. We said yes and he towed us there and dropped us off. The shop really was in a horrible part of town, and the guys that came out of the shop looked a little shady. They moved all of the other cars out of the shop and put my Ford in. They worked on it until they got it fixed and back on the road for us. After all of that, they wouldn’t take a penny in payment. Needless to say, we were surprised to get back on the road so fast.”

So, to those that say a flathead isn’t any good for a long distance trip to a rod run, tell them it can be done, and Dave and Becky Dean do it every summer!

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
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