USA: Ford Honors Its Performance Legends at SEMA
Canton and Cooperstown may have their sports hall of fame statues, but a new "Ford Performance Hall of Fame" at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show has its heroes in the flesh, or rather, in the sheet metal.
The new Ford exhibit at SEMA focuses on performance cars and people in a nine-car stroll through car customization and racing history. Featured prominently is the 1932 Ford, which is still considered the definitive hot rod of all time. The 1932 Ford is being honored on Nov. 11 among the first cars inducted into the new Hot Wheels® Hall of Fame in Los Angeles.
"In a show that pays tribute to car customization, it’s only fitting that we honor the car that started it all, the ‘32 Ford," says Phil Martens, Ford’s group vice president of Product Creation. "The measure of a Hall of Fame is its ability to stir the emotions of its visitors. This exhibit has it all: the dust, the glory and the gasoline with classic roadsters, gritty modified racers of the past and powerful stock cars of today."
The concept of car customization has its roots in the late 1940s and through the 1950s, when the original hot-rodders such as Dean Batchelor and Doane Spencer raced their modified 1932 Ford highboy roadsters on the dry lakes of California. The craze they created spawned what is today a $27 billion aftermarket parts and service business.
The "Hall of Fame" Ford performance vehicles on display include:
1932 Ford V-8 Roadster: Built by Doane Spencer of southern California, this V-8 Roadster features a combination of aftermarket parts and custom fabricated pieces. Originally constructed to compete in the grueling Carrera Pan American races in Mexico, it has been restored to its original 1950s configuration.
Spencer and his contemporaries favored the 1932 Ford highboy because of its eight-cylinder performance, contemporary proportions, ease of maintenance and modification, and its reasonable price. These early hot rods were literally driven on the street during the week and raced on weekends. The standards set by these hot rodders in the 1940s are still the benchmark of hot rodding today.
1934 Edsel Ford Roadster: Using 1934 Ford components, Edsel Ford and Bob Gregorie designed this sleek two-place roadster for Edsel’s personal transportation. In 1940, the motor was updated to a Mercury V-8 flathead, which was a popular choice for hot rodders in the 1930s through the 1950s.
Together, Gregorie and Edsel Ford went on to create the Mercury brand. As Ford’s first Design chief, Gregorie created some of the most famous cars of his time, including the famous 1949 Ford.
1965 Holman Moody Ford Galaxie: This NASCAR Grand National car scored Ford’s second Daytona 500 victory in 1965. Driven by Fred Lorenzen, the car contributed to the record 48 wins by Ford drivers during the 1965 NASCAR season. The car features a coil-spring, rear-steer suspension engineered by Ralph Moody, of the famed Holman Moody racing organization, and the engine is a 427-cubic-inch medium riser with a Ford T&C "Top Loader" four-speed transmission.
Johnny Lightning Special: After retiring from open-wheel racing, Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones partnered with Ford Dealer, Vel Miletich to form an Indy car team with drivers Mario Andretti and Al Unser. The Team’s famous "Johnny Lightning Special" won in 1970 and 1971, the first and second of Unser’s four Indy wins. This era of car shows the increasing significance of aerodynamics and continued effectiveness of turbo charging. The Ford four-cam Indy motor developed in the mid-1960s would ultimately give way to the Ford Cosworth DFX motor, a derivative of the legendary Cosworth Formula 1 DFV and predecessor of today’s Cosworth Champ Car Motor.
1965 Cobra Daytona: This coupe, one of only six, is considered by many to be the most valuable Ford ever built. Carroll Shelby’s racing organization started with the 289 FIA Cobra and, in ninety days, developed the Daytona Coupe. Designed to compete in faster, longer races, the goal was to enable the Shelby Team to win the 1965 FIA Constructors Championship with its superior aerodynamics.
Mustang GT Concept Coupe: The Mustang GT Coupe concept arrived in 2003 taking enthusiasts’ breath away three design-generations after the original made history in 1964. The latest legend of the American muscle car is a contemporary automobile that captures the essence of Mustang’s design and performance heritage. Presented as a two-seat fastback coupe, the Mustang GT concept is a strong indicator of the next-generation Mustang’s design direction.
2000 Saleen SR Widebody Mustang: The 2000 Saleen SR Widebody Grand American Road Racing GTO Champion dominated the 2000 GTO class of the Grand-Am. Setting the GTO pole in six out of nine events and winning six out of nine races. In 2000, it also won the following races: Phoenix International, Homestead, Lime Rock Park, Road America, Trois-Rivieres, and Watkins Glen. This car features a modified 351 cid Saleen Ford engine with 600-horsepower at 6,800 rpm.
Ford GT40: The GT40 is the world’s most famous race car and arguably the subject of the most storied legend in all of racing history. Henry Ford II commissioned the GT40 racing project after his attempt to purchase racing prowess by acquiring Ferrari was turned away. After a disappointing first season, Ford hired Carroll Shelby to manage the program. The famous Ford GT, nicknamed the GT40 for its 40-inch overall height, finished 1-2-3 in the 24-hour race at Le Mans in 1966. Ford’s GT40s went on to win Le Mans and dominate the international motorsports scene in 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Dewalt #17 Ford Taurus: The #17 Dewalt Ford Taurus, driven by Roush Racing’s Matt Kenseth, consistently garners top honors in the intensely competitive NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. Kenseth, NASCAR’s 2000 Rookie of the year, drove it to top honors with five wins in 2002, and has led stock car’s top series throughout the 2003 season. The Taurus, Ford’s flagship vehicle in the NASCAR Winston Cup series, reaches an unrestricted speed of 200 mph.
New Hot Wheels® Hall of Fame Accolade
Recognized as the world’s most popular car in hot rodding, the 1932 Ford V-8 Roadster is receiving special acclaim this month. A blue-ribbon panel of auto journalists, manufacturers, designers and drivers has named the ’32 Ford as one of the "Greatest Rides," embodying the Hot Wheels® tradition of speed, power, performance and attitude.
At an invitation-only ceremony featuring "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno on Nov. 11, the 1932 Ford V-8 will be among the first of five significant people, vehicles and automotive moments to be inducted into the Hot Wheels® Hall of Fame, a new installation being added to the permanent Hot Wheels® exhibit that opened earlier this year at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
In addition to its notoriety in hot rodding, the blue-ribbon panel heralded the 1932 Ford as the first popular eight-cylinder automobile offering brisk performance at a reasonable price.