My father was not super excitable. Growing up, there were three things that I could say really excited him… the Cleveland Browns football team…the Cleveland Indians baseball team… and 1940 Ford Coupes. While his relationship with the Browns and Indians was tumultuous, with shutting off the television mid-game and him vowing to never watch another game at least once or twice per season, his love for the ’40 Ford Coupe never wavered.
I remember coming back from Cedar Point Amusement Park when I was fairly young, and my dad pulled over alongside the road and stopped. Wondering why we were stopping, I looked out the window and saw an old, green car sitting there with a “for sale” sign on it. My dad got out, then we all followed. I remember watching my dad walk around this car, smiling, excited, inspecting it from top to bottom. He was pointing out things about the door handles, the headlights, and the paint job. I just remember thinking, “why is my dad acting so weird?” That car was a green 1940 Ford Coupe with an airbrushed image of the Jolly Green Giant along the entire sides.
I was told that my dad had a 1940 Ford Coupe when he was younger that he tinkered with, took extremely good car of (he washed and waxed it every Saturday), occasionally street raced, and absolutely loved. When he was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War, he had to sell it. My older brother was born while he was stationed in Germany, so when he got home, he was already working to keep up with family expenses. Three more kids later, he had begun the typical American pattern of working as hard as he could just to pay the bills.
I knew my dad always wanted to buy another ’40 Ford. He told me a story once about a guy that worked for him that had bought a ’40 Ford for the motor it had in it. He had pulled that motor out, and replaced it with a ****flat head**** (which is the motor my dad had in his original ’40, and the one he preferred). That guy offered my dad that car for only $1,000. I asked, did you buy it? My dad said no. My next question… why not? I’ll never forget his answer… “I didn’t have, or couldn’t come up with, the $1,000 dollars.” My heart sank. He said that he had us four kids and couldn’t afford it.
I’m not sure of the exact moment (hearing that story might have been it), but I decided early on that I wanted to buy my dad a 1940 Ford Coupe. It was on a list of goals I had written when I was eighteen years old.
I was fortunate enough to be able to buy a very nice, black ’40 Ford for my dad for his 60th birthday. That was a super special day. I’ll never forget riding in that car, the windows rolled down, his left elbow resting on the door, hanging out the window, and him saying… “I feel like I’m 18 right now.” Wow! What a moment.
I share this for a few reasons (two of which are NOT to brag about something I did nor to pat myself on the back). First, giving is so much more fulfilling than getting. Second, my dad sacrificed so much to give my siblings and me what we needed and wanted when we were young. We need to remember and recognize the sacrifices in some way. Third, buying that car prevents me from having what would have inevitably been heavy regret had I not bought it. Fourth, I got to watch my dad enjoy that car for twelve years before he passed away.
I am extremely grateful for being able to purchase that car when I did. I am extremely grateful he got to have that car. And I’m extremely grateful I was able to express my gratitude for all that he did for me, sacrificed for me, and tolerated with me, with something as meaningful as that ’40 Ford. You can see that car, and the award it recently won at the I-X Piston Powered AutoRama Show in Cleveland last week by clicking here.
I encourage you to think of someone that has impacted your life in a powerful way and reach out to the with something expressing your gratitude. They need to know. And don’t wait until it’s too late.