While celebrating the 47th Anniversary of the NSRA Street Rod Nationals Plus, it was the perfect time for STREET RODDER and Ford Performance Products to recognize street rodders who install a late-model Ford engine in a Ford hot rod or custom. While canvassing the massive grounds of the Kentucky State Exposition Center we met Mike and Michele Belmont of Milford, Ohio who are our latest award recipient with their alluring 1940 Ford Woody Wagon.
Taking on the build of any hot rod always entails challenges, especially when all you have to start with is a bare cowl section. For Mike and Michele Belmont of Milford, Ohio, a swap meet visit gave them all the insight they needed into their next build. Of course when you find the first piece that means you’ll have plenty of more dawn hours spent combing swap meets for the rest. Working in Cincinnati at Tressler Comet station at age12 as the son of a mechanic gave Mike plenty of opportunity to hone his skills. While at the shop they worked on everything from daily drivers to Indy cars that needed updates. It wasn’t long till he got his license and the keys to a 1957 Chevy followed by a 427ci 1967 Corvette, not bad for a youngster in high school.
Working together as the years passed a steady stream of hot rods have been built in their shop including a number of cool 1940 Ford’s. To create a rock solid base to anchor the project a call was placed to Lobeck’s V8 Shop to build the chassis with a John’s Industries 9-inch rear packed with 4.10:1 gears suspended in place by a custom triangulated 4-link accented by Heidts coilover shocks and an antiroll bar. For awesome handling up front, a Heidts Superide II IFS was deftly matched to 2-inch drop spindles, coilover shocks and antiroll bar also from Heidts. To slow the speed a Corvette dual-style master pushes fluid through stainless lines to 11-inch Ford Racing discs out back and 12-inch Wilwood units up front. To anchor it all to the pavement a set of genuine 1940 Ford steelies sporting Ford DeLuxe caps and rings wear wide whites from Diamond Back.
Wanting to add plenty of seamless power a Ford Performance 4.6L crate V-8 was bolted in place filled with all the right performance bits from the factory including fuel injection and ignition. The engine was then treated to fine tuning by Barker Machine of Jackson Pike, Ohio. Spent gasses then dump through headers by JBA Performance Exhaust to 2-½-inch stainless pipes and Magnaflow mufflers. To move the power a Ford 4R70W trans meets a custom aluminum driveshaft.
Starting with only a cowl section, Mike had a lot to handle. He sourced a solid hood, fenders and grille while also fabricating the floor and surrounding areas. From there it was off to Scott Lang of Loveland, Ohio, to craft the rest of the body from ash and mahogany including re-contouring the roof. Mike also reworked the rear fenders and tailgate before he and Michele started on the body work phase. The sheet metal was massaged to perfection and treated to a very traditional PPG maroon vibe straight from Mike’s spray gun. Inside the magic continued with a modified stock dash housing Dakota Digital dials while steering is through a restored stock wheel linked to an ididt column. Cool breezes come from Vintage Air while tunes flow through a system from Secretaudio to custom speaker enclosures. To add plenty of comfort Rick Davin at Vintage Auto Trim in Cincinnati covered a Glide Engineering bench with yards of butter soft 2-tone leather complimented by German square-wave carpeting. All we can say is this is one neat wagon packed with great details. Congratulations to Mike and Michele who will receive a limited edition jacket as the award winner.