Edsel Ford 1934 Speedster at NY Auto Show
1934 Model 40 Special Speedster Appears at 2012 New York International Auto Show
DETROIT--April 5, 2012: Edsel Ford's 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster takes the stage alongside Lincoln's stunning new vehicles for the 2012 New York International Auto Show. The Speedster offers a glimpse into the early years of Edsel Ford's design and automotive styling vision, and provides a historical link to his lasting impact on Lincoln.
"My grandfather's contributions to Ford Motor Company were immense, but one of the most significant was his role in the acquisition of Lincoln 90 years ago," said Edsel B. Ford II. "He had a true eye for styling and understood the power of a beautifully elegant design, which guided his development of the brand."
The inclusion of the Speedster at the New York International Auto Show underscores the legacy of Lincoln while highlighting the new era for the brand.
Edsel Ford was a founding trustee of New York's Museum of Modern Art. At MoMA's 10th anniversary in 1939, Edsel delivered a radio address (along with President Roosevelt and MoMA President Rockefeller, among others). Ahead of his time, Edsel spoke about "the beauty in useful, well-made things." He remarked that beauty can and should be incorporated into everyday items at a retail cost affordable for all.
As president of Ford Motor Company and its luxury brand Lincoln, Edsel initiated and formed the first design department at the company. His collaboration with E.T. "Bob" Gregorie, who became the company's first chief designer, allowed this approach to art to take shape in automobiles, which became especially visible through the Lincoln brand. Under Edsel's direction, Lincoln became one of America's top-tier luxury brands. His desire to reflect art in everyday objects had a distinct impact on the style revolution of the 1930s.
Ford and Gregorie designed and built a number of one-off vehicles. Each helped to bring Ford's personal design vision to life.
The Speedster's story is remarkable not just as a forerunner to future designs, including production vehicles like the 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet, which Frank Lloyd Wright called "the most beautiful car in the world," but for the journey it took over the last 78 years, including the 40-year span when the car disappeared and was presumed destroyed.
"The Speedster's simple design language and beautiful proportions reflect an unadorned, restrained elegance," said Max Wolff, Lincoln Design Director. "It was ahead of its time with integrated headlamps, a one-piece hood, enclosed radiator with a concealed cap, and no running boards. It foreshadowed future design. The Speedster is very distinctive, very elegant, and actually, very Lincoln."
The Speedster Story
In 1932, upon returning from a European trip, Edsel asked Gregorie, who had previously worked at Harley Earl's GM Art and Colour studio, to design and supervise the construction of a personal roadster similar to those he'd seen on the European continent.
The first design reportedly disappointed Edsel, who wanted something lower and racier. Gregorie created a more dramatic, streamlined design. This "continental" roadster may have started with a stock 1934 Ford (aka Model 40) frame, but its subsequent chassis was radically altered. The Model 40 Special Speedster was unlike anything Ford Motor Company had built up to that time.
After Edsel's death in 1943, the Speedster crisscrossed the U.S. and in 1958 was purchased by a U.S. Navy sailor in Florida for $603 ... then it disappeared.
Forty years later Bill Warner, founder of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, discovered the Speedster was still in Florida and purchased it. He conducted minor restoration on the car and displayed it at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 1999.
In 2008, Warner sold it to a Texas car collector for $1.76 million. Following the collector's untimely death in 2010, the Speedster was acquired by Edsel & Eleanor Ford House (Ford House), the nonprofit historic estate of Edsel and Eleanor Ford, located in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich.
Ford House engaged RM Auto Restoration (RM) in Ontario, Canada, to completely rebuild and restore the vehicle, which over the years had alterations made to its grille, engine, paint and interior. During the restoration process RM revealed the stunning, custom-made "one off" as it originally looked in 1940 after its final redesign by Edsel and Gregorie. The restoration resolved many long-held assumptions about the illustrious vehicle's journey over time.
Lincoln and Ford House unveiled the restored Model 40 Special Speedster in August 2011 at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, Calif. Since then, it has appeared at select auto shows and automotive museums around the country. After the appearance in New York, the Speedster will continue its journey with appearances at car shows and museums, ultimately returning home to permanent view at ford House. To follow the Speedster's travels, and view the restoration process, visit Ford House
About The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., is a place of inspiration and discovery where visitors explore connections to art, design, history and the environment while celebrating Ford Family traditions. The 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster is part of its permanent collection.
About Lincoln Lincoln is the luxury automotive brand for Ford Motor Company, committed to becoming a world-class luxury brand with compelling vehicles and an exceptional ownership experience to match.Lincoln will launch seven new and significantly refreshed models in the next three years. For all the latest information, please visit Lincoln at Lincoln