Jim Smart
January 19, 2011

Steve Whitlock's '51 Ford 2-Door Coupe Steve Whitlock tells us he's a Blue Oval fanatic through and through, and it shows in his rather large collection. He has more than 30 Falcons, 15 Fairlanes, and 10 Galaxies at last count. There's always room for more, by the way. He's passionate about the classic Fords us old timers grew up with and remember; those lovable Fords and Mercs' of the 1960s that stir the emotions. "These cars are not all for restoring," Steve comments, "but there are a few I have plans for." He sells parts to feed his addiction to old Fords. And it's a huge addiction because he just can't seem to quit adding to his collection. This '51 Ford two-door coupe is one good example.

Steve didn't set out to buy this aero smoothy, a product of Henry Ford II's whiz kids who marched in to get Ford out of trouble right after World War II. Ford was facing bankruptcy and needed an all-new design with the latest technology-something fresh and exciting to get showrooms humming-since the '46-'48 Ford was little more than a warmed up carryover of the pre-war '41-'42 Ford. Although the buying public needed new automobiles badly after a long dry spell during the war, they weren't buying those first post-war Fords. Ford enlisted the George Walker design agency to pencil out and clay up what would be the all-new '49 Ford. And this would be the car that would save Ford. The '49 Ford had a futuristic demeanor with welded steel quarter-panels, abundant chrome, a jet engine intake mid-grille, slippery aero design, and it offered a smoother ride than its predecessors. Underhood were the dated pre-war flathead V-8 and inline-six engines that had been around since the 1930s. Better stuff sporting overhead valve technology was on the way, but wouldn't be here until 1954. This is why Ford had to make the most of what people saw versus what they heard underhood-a good-looking aerodynamic body that excited the senses and got people into showrooms.

Steve's '51 Ford coupe was a continuing evolution of the redesigned '49 Ford. He discovered this old shoebox in the classified ads of his local newspaper. It got his curiosity going, and he just had to see it. The '51 Ford is a standalone in that its grille sports twin jet intakes flanked by chrome you can see coming from any direction. When Steve answered the classified ad, he learned the car had already been sold. It turned out a friend had purchased it, and with a little bit of arm-twisting and gentle persuasion, Steve's buddy gave in and sold him the car. The '51 had been in storage for 30 years and was in outstanding condition for a car of its age. Steve stripped it down to a bare steel body and frame and went to work.

"I just knew this Ford shoebox had to be Pro Streeted," Steve tells us, "I got in touch with local race car builders and my good friend, Jim Norman, who did the frame work." Jim added that most of the work was performed in his shop. "What a fun car to build and show," Steve says with intense enthusiasm.

Because Steve is an automotive collision specialist, building this car came second nature to him. He did all of the body prep work himself, then, handed painting duties over to Troy Williams who laid down the two-stage Dupont in Candy Purple Pearl, which is a custom finish Steve came up with himself. There's no other combination out there like it. The ghost flames are a special Vermillion Dupont mix. Bumpers are '50 Ford-Steve's choice-because he wanted smooth bumpers void of curves and impressions like we find for '51.