Whether you like auctions or not, they’re a good finger-on-the-pulse barometer of what hot rods and kustoms are selling for. Each week, our “Auction Watch” column here at Rod Authority brings you some of the coolest cars offered around the country from some of the biggest and most recognized auction houses.
This week we’re checking out a beautiful 1939 Ford Coupe with an incredible history and milestones under its belt… er, hood. Finds such as this one tend to bring big money to the auction block – and this ’39 Ford was no exception.
According to Mecum, (where the vehicle was posted for auction) listing, “Long Beach native and World War II veteran Jack Calori was searching for a tow car for his famous Clay Smith-prepared 1929 Ford Model A racer when he discovered a 1936 Ford three-window coupe for sale by its original owner in 1947.
It wasn’t long before Calori’s friend, local body man Herb Reneau, convinced Calori that the Ford needed the custom treatment, and one of history’s most stunning custom 1936 Fords was born. Reneau installed a drop front axle and Z’d the frame at the rear to lower the car; chopped the top three inches and massaged the front end to accept a 1939 LaSalle front grille and 1941 Chevrolet headlights; added fender skirts, 1941 Hudson tail lights and 1941 Ford bumpers with Lincoln overriders; and finished it off with lustrous black paint.
Just prior to the car’s completion, Calori installed the race-prepped 1946 Mercury flathead from his 1929 Model A, giving it the power to run 114.50 MPH at a 1948 Russetta Timing Association meet. Racing revealed the flathead engine’s tendency to overheat, a problem caused by the LaSalle grille’s smaller opening and the fact that there was no room for a fan in the engine compartment.
Calori and his coupe made history the following year, appearing on the front cover of the November issue of “Hot Rod” magazine. Soon afterward, Calori gave up on the car’s overheating problems and traded it for a $1,600 credit toward the purchase of a new 1950 Mercury. As so often happens, the car passed from one new owner to another until it was discovered in Spokane, Washington, in the early 1990s and purchased by collector Don Orosco. In 2002, Orosco sold the coupe to its previous owner, who commissioned Hot Rodding legend Roy Brizio to restore it in time to win the first-ever Early Custom Cars 1935-1948 Class and the Dean Bachelor Award for ‘Most Historically Significant Hot Rod’ at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where Brizio and Calori himself accepted the prizes.
The restored Calori Coupe serves as a window to the past, preserving all the details that make it a landmark machine in the Hot Rodding-customizing culture. It’s all there, including the red “leatherette” interior and the thoroughly polished and chromed 1946 Mercury 59AB flathead engine complete with Clay Smith cam, Myer aluminum heads, Weiand intake and twin downdraft carburetors.
It has been displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum as a living piece of Hot Rod history and was featured on the front cover of Issue 31 of the prestigious “Rodders Journal.”
For more information and photos, check out the full listing on Mecum’s website HERE.