Arthur Lellis' 1939 Ford
1939 Ford Convertible originally owned and restyled by Arthur Lellis at Art & Jerry Custom Shop in Los Angeles, California. Art restyled his Ford in 1946. At the same time, Art's companion in the shop, Jerry Moffatt, restyled a 1939 Ford as well. The two partners built two almost identical Ford's that they could to cruise the streets of Los Angeles in..
The sleek body on Art's Ford was channeled 4 inches over the frame. The front and rear fenders were left in their normal position, with a small section trimmed off the bottom ends. A 4 inch section was removed from the sides of the hood, according to a featured story in Hot Rod Magazine May 1950, the most complicated part of the whole procedure. The car was then nosed, decked and shaved for handles and sidetrim. The running boards were removed for a more sporty look, and both bumpers were replaced by 1937 DeSoto ripple bumpers. An aftermarket grille from Eastern Auto Supply that covered parts of the original grille was installed.
The chassis was kept stock. Power came from a 1941 Mercury engine that had been ported and relieved with 3 1/16" bore and 3/8" stroke using a 1949 Mercury crankshaft. The engine featured Eddie Meyer heads, a Weiand manifold, Winfield R-1 camshaft and a Meyer rebuilt ignition. The flywheel weight was reduced to 22 lbs. Most of the engine accessories were chrome plated, as were the exhaust headers that were made by So. Calif. Muffler Co.. The transmission ran Zephyr gears and the differential had 3.54 gears installed. The hopped up engine was cooled by a radiator from a 1941 Ford truck. According to Hot Rod Magazine May 1950, "Art's car shows up equally as well in performance as it does in appearance."
In 1950 Art's Ford was featured in Hot Rod Magazine May 1950. When the story was made, the car had recently been painted Metallic bronze. It had also received a "Panoramic" top covered by Runyan of Hollywood. The rear window was made from flexible plastic material, and according to the story a special frame was manufactured for the padded top.
Sometime between 1948 and 1950 Art advertised the Ford for sale. According to the ad it ran a full Evans 1942 Mercury engine with a 3 5/16 bore and 3/8 stroke. The top was listed as a Carson Top in the ad.
In 1952 a photo of Art's car appeared in the February issue of Auto Sport Review. The story was titled "Hollywood Roundup," and it featured pictures of people like Clark Gable and Gary Cooper with their cars. Current owner of the car was Alan Young, a British born actor who had settled down in Hollywood. The car flowed through the hands of several West Coast owners until it ended up on the East Coast in the mid 1950s. While on the east Coast, the front end was damaged and replaced with a 1940 Ford DeLuxe front end.
Restored by Bill Dreist
In 1988,Bill Dreist of Saginaw, Michigan entered a Duesenberg-Cord festival in Auburn, Indiana. At the show Bill noticed Art's old car, it caught his eyes and he ended up buying it. The car was in an unrestored condition, so Bill decided to restore it. The car was given flared fender skirts, 1939 Lincoln taillights, 1948 Ford bumpers, and a 1952 Oldsmobile dashboard that housed Stewart-Warner gauges. A pair of Cord 810 foglights were mounted on the front bumper. After the restoration, the car was powered by a healthy 1948 Mercury engine. The restored version of the car was finished off in a 1950 Ford Sportsman Green color.
August 14 and 15th, 2010 Art's old Ford was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Autions. The estimated sales price was between $120,000 - $160,000. The reserve wasn't met, and the car didn't sell. In December of 2010 the car was advertised for sale by Hyman Ltd..
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