hot rod coupé ford 1938 "world"s fasted 38"

As soon as it was manufactured in 1938, this Ford deluxe coupé arrived in California at its first owner, who used it as an ordinary car, an everyday vehicle until 1948.

It was on his date that a certain Sid Angel bought the car and decided to transform it into a HOT ROD, he entrusted the mission to Mr. John Vesco of the famous Vesco family in San Diego..

Here is a brief history of the Vesco family: Since 1920 John Vesco has always been passionate about motor sports and has also participated in many car and motorcycle competitions, his career as a competitor ended following an accident.

But in addition to his passions, John has his own garage which gradually specializes in car modifications (Kustom) and prototype construction to break speed records.


Indeed San Diego where the garage is located is located in the middle of many dry lakes where a good number of speed races are disputed.

With his sons Don and Rick they make many cars in the shape of metal cigars and more recently in polyester to race on salt lakes. They have won many races.


the last record dating from November 20, 2018 when they exceeded 503 miles per hour with a wheel-powered car called "turbinator 2" this still represents more than 810 kilometers per hour.


It was in 1948 that the young John Vesco made the top shop of this Ford 38. (4" less or 10cm) the coupe immediately took on a sportier look.

He also made many modifications to the bodywork, complete smoothing of the car, removal of the moldings and removal of the ventilation grilles at the sidewalls.

A slight droppage (lowering of the car)

Sid Angel had the Ford repainted in midnight blue and enjoyed it for many years during walks and exhibitions until the end of the 1950s.

This car won many cups during these years. The HOT ROD movement was very fashionable during the 30s to 60s but with the appearance of new brands and more efficient models at the end of the 50s,

the HOT ROD movement lost in intensity, this car experienced the same fate in the 70s (I don't have a precise date the car loses its splendor and it is finally left to its sad fate behind a garage in San Diego.

At the end of the 1980s Chuk Edwall, also from San Diego, had many friends who ran on the salt lakes and the desire to join them became more and more present, to such an extent that he then started looking for a base to make a racing car.

In 1988 a friend told him where this sleeping wreck was.


Chuck acquired it and brought his personal touch: a reshaping of the bodywork with a smoothing of the engine compartment, removal of the door handles, drilling of louvers on the front hood, reinstallation of a larger grille ( because the original one had been shortened)

the car is put in after (beige paint) installation of ribbed bumpers from Desoto from 1937 and rear lights from a Studebaker from 1941, a steering column and a steering wheel from Oldsmobile from 1954, installation of full instrumentation stewart Warner ....

but it is above all at the mechanical level that John modified the car by installing a big Cadillac 500CI V8, all the running gear has been modified in order to transmit the power correctly to the rear wheels, an automatic TH400 gearbox, rear suspensions with coil springs and 4 suspension arms, as well as a panhard bar, a 9-inch Ford rear axle,

at the end of the 90s Chuck decided to paint the car in Beige (Oldsmobile color) and to decorate it with scallops purple pink (personal color).


it was at this time that he had the magnificent Saddlery redone in coordinated tones.

As can be seen in these photos, despite the top shop all the chrome window surrounds are present, these have also been shortened and then rechromed.

The dome light is from a 1941 Cadillac.

During many years Chuck does not cease improving his car and he tests it regularly on the lakes of muroc, bonneville and el mirage.


on this photo su SDRC (san diego roadster club) of which Chuck is an active member.... you can look for this rod.


In 2002 chuck decides to further increase the power and a new engine is in preparation this one must be powerful and reliable because Chuck goes to the races by road, the courses are sometimes up to 1500 km in the weekend. ...

in 20 years of racing, the Ford coupé has only been towed twice due to mechanical problems.

This new engine is mounted with the help of cad500 company specializing in 500ci Cadillac engines, forged crankshaft, ARIA pistons, a more pointed camshaft, large valves and special cylinder heads with a 76 CC combustion chamber to increase the compression ratio. and the past to 11.25/1. Everything is fueled by an 850 CFM braswell four-barrel carburetor.

The engine is fed by two electric pumps, it takes gasoline with an octane number of 101 (98 more additive in France).


from there the car is better even much better had almost 20 miles more in top speed. it is with this engine that he established his speed record on the lake of el mirage 162.4 129 in Mph is a little more than 261 km / h following this record the car was baptized words fasted 38.

On the glove box door, a few speed record plates attest to the performance of this Ford.

In February 2017 the car changed owners but still remained in California, it left San Diego for Sacramento, Raphaël Jimenez of the zephy's vintage speed shop bought the car and decided to return to the 1948 version by painting the exterior of the car in its original night blue version (actually a black with some bluish reflections), by removing the roll cage and other racing equipment...

hey also add fenders skirts and whitewall tires (be careful not to drive too much quickly these tires will not hold the speed that can reach this hot rod.


The interior is identical as well as the mechanics (always beige and pink)

In July 2018 the car changed hands again but this time it left sunny California to arrive in eastern France.

Me (Philippe Steinmetz) the new French owner, I have been passionate about Kustom and HOT ROD since my youngest age, although having had a lot of old French, German and American cars I had never had a HOT ROD, I make this dream come true for my 50th birthday by acquiring this car with a past that is as atypical as it is mythical.

For more than 30 years I dreamed of a Ford 37 (Posies) and well it is finally a 38 which will make me happy.

I started to do many finishes on this HOT ROD so that it continues its great adventure for many years on French soil ...

The racing engine was replaced by a Cadillac engine (still) but "stock", because the 98 French gasoline with the competition additive was not suitable for the racing engine...


The change of engine allowed to pass the engine compartment in black and to make a current finish on this new engine.

Now the car no longer limps or stalls at idle, it runs perfectly, and an original engine is already quite sufficient for the small roads of Haute Saône, there are fewer salt lakes here (MDR).

The electricity and the carpet are redone and for the moment I take advantage of this car in this state a much more specialized restoration is planned but another project is already in progress........

A big thank you to Chuck Edwall for his many photos, advice and information on this car as well as sending old invoices from the 90s proving that the Cadillac engine was already present in this vehicle.

He also provided me with the 1988 photos of this HOT ROD in semi-wreck!! I was also able to dig up some magazines from the 90s where ROD was in photo ....


thanks to all this:

This HOT ROD in 2020 succeeded in obtaining a legal gray card as a prototype of more than 30 years, the FFVE (French Federation Vehicles Period) to accept all the modifications of bodywork and mechanics

because I was able to prove that these last was very old ....

thanks to the FSRA (France Street Rod Association) who helped me in this process.


Related Posts