Thursday, March 8, 2012

Full Race Jalopy

by Mike Bumbeck -

The American Heritage Dictionary defines jalopy as a word used to describe an old, dilapidated motor vehicle – especially an automobile. The origin of the word itself is hazy.

The Ultimate Hot Rod Dictionary goes further, suggesting the word may have come into being as a result of many dilapidated automobiles sent to the Mexican city of Jalapa. The second definition of the word is the very automobile seen here. Any rough, oftentimes crudely constructed early-vintage automobile used in circle track operations during the ’40s and ’50s.

Once driven by Benny Hofer of Rock Island, Illinois, this is not just any jalopy, but a genuine 1940 two-door Ford coupe full race jalopy.

The famous jalopy now belongs to Dennis Gerdes, who picked up the car from a barn in Indiana by way of New York state. The previous owner had restified the racer as a tribute to Benny Hofer. When Dennis took delivery of the jalopy, the flathead Ford V8 was running on three-and-a-half cylinders despite a relatively recent refresh.

A fuel cell flush and a fresh Stromberg 97 were the first steps in figuring things out, but the flathead was still not up to snuff. A compression check checked out, but that very same squeeze was pushing past two blown head gaskets and into the cooling channels – wrecking all sorts of havoc.

A new set of gaskets, some aviation gasket sealant, a retorque, a set of points and the flathead runs and sounds like a race-prepped flat-knocker should.

1 comment:

  1. This was my Great Grandpa's racecar. i don't remember him all too well. but racing in my family, well on my mom's side is a huge part in our daily lives. my great grandpa raced, Benny Hofer, as many of you know. my Grandpa goes to the races. and before my grandma died, she went to all the Nascar races all over the states.