Custom 1939 Ford Roadster ‘Mystery Car’ Finally Identified by Twitter Sleuth Squad

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Mystery Cars come around now and again. The long history of custom car building makes sourcing the history of some of the mysteries a bit tough at times. This custom 1939 Ford Roadster creation had the internet – and auction house where it’s being sold – baffled for a little while. Well, after a few days of asking, the car nerd Twitter army got this mystery licked. 

1939 Ford Roadster | Mecum

There’s nothing like a good mystery car

Custom Ford Roadster interior
Custom Roadster interior | Mecum

Earlier this week, Silodrome posted an article about a Mecum auction listing that had many people scratching their heads. The listing is for this mysterious custom 1939 Ford Roadster. It features a V8 Ford Flathead engine, a clearly custom-built body, and a Cobra replica chassis.

At the time of the original posting by Silodrome, very little was known about the Ford Roadster. It was obviously not a factory car, but what it was, was still a mystery. The following text was all that was known about it before the Twitter squad got involved. 

“This unusual roadster is coming up for sale with Mecum in Indianapolis this month; it’s a custom-bodied mid-century roadster based on the chassis and running gear of a 1939 Ford, equipped with a flathead V8 and a 3-speed manual transmission.” 

So who built this Custom 1939 Ford Roadster? 

1939 Flathead V8
Flathead V8 | Mecum

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The updated info reveals the creation story behind this killer custom Ford. The Roadster was built by a fella named Paul Normand from Rochester, New Hampshire. The idea behind the car is inarguably cool. 

Normand wondered what it would be like if a Carroll Shelby-like character built a Cobra equivalent but in the 1930s. That is easily one of the best reasons to build a car of all time. The result proves the genius behind Normand’s thought process. 

Normand started with an MGA body which had to be very heavily modified. Using the Cobra chassis required that the MGA body be heavily modified to fit in the wider chassis. Basically, the MGA had to be significantly widened. Although the front end doesn’t really show it, the profile and backend really scream MGA once you know. 

The chassis is a massive part of the mystery Ford Roadster build

Custom 1939 Ford Roadster in green
1939 Ford Roadster | Mecum

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Silodrome further uncovered that the Cobra replica chassis sports Corvette independent front suspension and a coil-over rear axle from a Chevy S10. As is common for some updated vintage race cars, the Ford Roadster has disc brakes upfront and drums in the rear. 

Normand also had the good taste to use Authentic 1939 Ford wheels, but he had to use adapters to fit them properly to pull that off. To keep the era-correct feel as complete as possible, Normand used period headlights and tail lights. 

The last and coolest step in the build is the Flathead V8 that powers this little mongoose of a sports car. As the pictures show, the Ford Roadster has a very prominent Dr. Suess-looking gear shifter that is impossible to take your eyes off of. Normand paired the Flathead V8 with a three-speed manual transmission to really bring the cool factor home. 

Allegedly it only took Normand two months to build the custom Ford Roadster from start to finish. His years of experience building cars is the only thing that makes a build like this possible in that tiny bit of time. 

Sometimes a retroactive history is the coolest one 

The world is lucky to have had one Carroll Shelby. If he didn’t do his thing in the time that he did, obviously, everything would be different in regards to the American automotive industry.

However, taking this look at the fan-fiction version of a reimagined history of this 1930s Shelby is one of the most beautiful cars to grace the planet. It’s probably safe to assume that it is a blast and a half to drive, too. 

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