It always warms the heart and brings a tear to the eyes when we hear a story of a family who pulls together to help a long lost family member. In this case, the family member we are referring to is a ’40 Mercury Eight Convertible Coupe that was matched with a ’39 Ford Cab Over Engine (COE) Car Hauler.

1940 Mercury Eight Convertible Coupe

This story begins on June 14, 1954 when Dale Wersman was in the Air Force stationed near Washington D.C. At that time he already owned a ’50 Merc “lead sled,” when he stumbled upon a ’40 Mercury Eight Convertible Coupe sitting at Beeson Motors in Alexandria, VA. Haggling back and forth, Dale and the salesman agreed on a fair price of $60 for the car that had a busted block. After fixing the motor, it became the type of car any young married service member would be cool driving around base with.

Shortly after the purchase, Dale got out of the Air Force and decided to move back home to Centralia, IL. Since his wife didn’t have her drivers license, he contacted his sister to help drive one of the cars back from the East Coast.

Dale’s sister drove the ’50 Merc while he was behind the wheel of his ’40 rag top cruisin’ down the road headed west. At the first pit-stop for gasoline, his sister got out of the car waled up to Dale and said, “If you are gonna drive 80 miles per hour the whole way, I’ll just go on by myself and find the way home on my own.”

Dale who was used to driving pretty hard anyway, didn’t take into account that not only did the speedometer not work in the ’40, but back then there were no posted speed limits. His sister was a little nervous driving that fast because she had just received her license a short time earlier.

Only $60 out of pocket for this cool '40 Merc rag top.

It was going to take a lot of work to bring this old lady back.

When they got back to Illinois, Dale landed a job working in the oil fields gauging the wells. The rag top ended up as his only vehicle, so he had to use it as a service vehicle tearing through the oil fields for work during for six months.

After driving the fire out of it, Dale decided to park it in a shed and let her rest. The old car then became a jungle gym for the kids to jump on and play in. One of Dale’s sons even mentioned they used to drive nails into the gas tank. As you can imagine, this old lady ended up in pretty bad shape.

Fast forwarding 45 years, one day Dale and his sons, Tom and Steve, decided to pull the old beat up Mercury out of the shed. It was rusted, thrashed and looked tired. But there was still enough solid metal on her to bring it back to life.

They went to work on the old rag top. There were a lot of missing pieces because back in the day this car started to be transformed into a “lead sled.” All the chrome had been painted green with a brush; the fenders had been torn off and filled with lead. The Wernsman family had a lot of work ahead of them.

Tom and Steve would come over on the weekends to help Dad bring this car he had purchased over 45 years earlier back to life. This project brought the whole family together.

The Wernsmans dropped a Ford 289ci small block in it for the powerplant, matching it with a transmission, drive shaft and rear end out of a ’65 Mustang. They also slapped a set of headers that ran through side pipes to give the car mean sound and cool look.

The interior was updated with a new gauge cluster, Billet steering wheel and electric seats for comfort. They decided to keep the original front straight axle, but capped off the ends with Billet 17-inch wheels up front and 18-inch out back. Spraying the car with an awesome custom paint job turned this almost junkyard husk into an incredible show piece the whole family could be proud of.

The family came together to breathe new life into Grandpa's dream.

The drivetrain was upgraded with a Ford 289ci small block, matching transmission and rear end out of a '65 Mustang.

1939 Ford COE Car Hauler

Over 30 years ago, Dale was beginning to collect many different cars. One thing he had always wanted was an old Ford car hauler with an oval front grill to add to his collection.

Tom and Steve would come over on the weekends to help Dad bring this car he had purchased over 45 years earlier back to life. This project brought the whole family together.

One day Tom called his Dad to tell him he had found a ’39 Ford COE with an oval front grill at a junk yard in Summerfield, IL. This was exactly what Dale had been looking for.

Dale was told he could probably buy the old truck for about $150. He didn’t want to seem too excited about it in front of the guy at the junkyard, but as soon as he got home he told his son, Tom, “Hook up the trailer, we’re gonna go get a ’39 Ford truck.”

The truck wasn’t in bad shape for a 40 year old truck that had been sitting in a junkyard. All the window were broken or shot out and there was only one rust hole in the bottom of the cab. However, the rest of the metal on the truck was straight.

It still had the original 95hp Ford Flathead V8, which they completely overhauled. The family tightened up the original hydraulic brakes and upgraded the spark to an electronic ignition. To keep the engine running smooth a high volume oil pump and oil cooler was added.

The truck originally didn’t have turn signals, so they custom fit signal lights to the truck. Headers and side pipes were then added which¬†sound great and match the pipes on the ’40 convertible.

Dale always dreamed of owning a COE hauler. He found one that was exactly the style he wanted.

Good thing it was in decent shape. It wouldn't take much to get this truck on the road.

With a few upgrades and modifications she was ready for the road.

Originally they had painted it gray. Dale thought it reminded him of Olive Oil and from that time on that was her nickname. “Olive Oil” has been used to haul all of Dale’s cars around, including his ’53 Studebaker, Model A and many others. Tom added, “We also use it to retrieve broken down vehicles that are driven by nieces and nephews.” The hauler can easily run 65-70 mph down the road, although most of the time they keep it around 55.

Two Become A Pair

Now the ’39 Ford and ’40 Mercury travel together visiting car shows all over the Midwest. Dale has passed his passion for cool hot rods down through his family. His granddaughter, Kayla and her fiance, Brad even are getting involved with this hobby. They have all helped him bring his dream to life and will definitely carry his passion on many years down the road.

After custom paint was added to the Mercury convertible, Dale thought it would look cool to spray the same colors and design to the Ford hauler. It seemed the two vehicle were made for each other.

Completed, the two vehicles have a classic and timeless look any family would be proud of.