As if proof were needed that we live in the best of all possible worlds, news comes that Ford is offering brand-new bodies of its legendary 1940 V8 coupe for sale. Offered by Ford Restoration Parts, the bodies are made of new steel, with modern welds and factory rust-proofing, and they'll cost you about $15,000 US.
Here - I'll let this guy tell you about it:
This is the same program that offers brand new bodies for the '32 Deuce Coupe and the '65-'70 Mustang, and they'll be unveiling the '40 Ford at SEMA. All I can say is that if I were a rich guy, I'd be placing my order right now, and putting a call into the best shop in the city to help me fill it out.
This is a seriously beautiful car - the culmination of Henry Ford's no-frills pre-war design philosophy, only slightly softened up by his son Edsel's attempts to bring some aesthetics to the Ford line. It isn't a luxury product like the Packard or a unicorn-like showboat like the Duesenberg, but a utilitarian chunk of auto that epitomizes its time, as the Depression was ending and our vision of the future was still drawn with the sensuous curves of art deco and moderne.
The hood comes with the V8 chrome trim ornament, so it would behoove me to put a modern V8 into it, along with modern disc brakes, transmission, drive train and maybe an iPod jack as well. I'd finish it almost exactly like the beauty at the top of this post, right down to the red rims and whitewalls, with a bench seat and vintage instrumentation. It'll cost a fortune, but it would probably still be less than the Icon Derelict V8 I'd have commissioned in that alternate Rick-is-rich-as-Croesus universe that I don't live in, probably because I missed a bus in 1978 or stepped on a beetle in 1983. (Memo to alternate-universe-rich-Rick: get both.)
Of course, a modern V8 engine would probably be a monster compared to its pre-war equivalent, so my modern '40 Ford would put out serious horsepower, doubtless far exceeding the 90 mph a stock '40 coupe put out back in the day. (And which could be coaxed up to well over 100 by the bootleggers who made it a hit with the moonshine runners who loved this car just before they became the first NASCAR drivers.)
I don't know what this would do to the handling on the thing, which is why I'd splash out for as many modern updates as possible, and maybe even an airbag or two. And seatbelts. And a cup holder.
UPDATE: More on the '40 Ford body at Autoblog, which confirms that you can get it with the firewall configured for a new, bigger V8 than the original flathead. Not that this means anything to me in the real world, but I can dream, can't I?