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Building AMT's 1939 Ford

Mark shows how he built the model with a few modifications

1939 Ford
During the mid-1960s, a friend and I accompanied my uncle to local drag strips on the weekends. My uncle ran a 1964 GTO in the C Gas Class, but there were many cool drag cars all over the pit areas. Some were modern to the day, but my favorites were the ones that had a few years on them. As I recall, many of these had been racing as far back as the early 1950s. To me, they were just cool.

While sitting at the workbench one day, I noticed an AMT 1939/40 Ford Sedan on the shelf. It took me back to the days with my uncle, and all of the cool racers that I remember crawling in, on, and under as a boy. This project is a combination of many dragsters I remember from that time.


The old AMT chassis was slightly modified. I removed the bumper brackets, lowered the rear end by removing a piece of the spring, and raised the front end using a piece of Evergreen as a shim and the front straight axle.

Front axle

I drilled holes in the front axle to remove some of the weight.

Headlights and grille

The body was left mostly stock with the exception of the nose. I decided to smooth the grille and headlight areas using Bondo.


I removed the back seat from the interior and filled it in with Evergreen sheet styrene. I recall several cars that had a similar look in the area behind the driver’s seat.


Because the trunk on this project would be open, I added inside panels, bulkheads, and a floor for the right look.

Cowl vent

I opened the cowl vent just in front of the windshield and add micro screen for the proper scale look.


One of the coolest things I remember about two cars in particular was that the interiors, trunks, and engine compartment were glossy white. Because the body was to be light blue, I thought this would make a fun, contrasting color.

Fire extinguisher

Note the location of the fire extinguisher. I saw several cars with these units mounted high on the roll bar.

Chevy big-block

For the powerplant, I chose a Chevy big-block. I added aftermarket valve covers and fuel injection stacks. Then I wired and plumbed the engine.


The headers were scratchbuilt using Evergreen rod and Ambroid glue. I test-fitted the engine to the chassis, then lightly heated and bent the rod to shape.


I recall many of the cars running old stock rims painted red, and one car that always ran the old whitewall slicks.

Light blue finish

The body was primed, and painted with Testor’s Light Blue.

I added the battery and Moon tank to the trunk area.

Finished car

The finished car reflects many memories of great times at local drag strips.


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