By on May 8, 2013

Since I’ve gotten myself started on a racing theme (see a recent entry in my “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” column), I figured I’d keep it going with this BB entry.

Harkening back to the day when a wide variety of motor racing was solidly positioned in the Greater Los Angeles Public Consciousness, we have this fine example for your perusal.

As if straight out of a ‘60’s time capsule—when what were essentially racing cars were allowed to legally roam the streets, being frequently driven to their owner’s track preference—this 1940 Chevy Coupe certainly has the appearance of a proper DIY, “grassroots” Street/Strip Drag Racer.
1940 Chevy Vintage Drag Racer--Photo by Phil Coconis Use by Permission Only (7)
From the modified Chevy “Small Block” not-under-the-hood, to the flat black paint, appropriate stickers and decals (o.k., there are some that post-date the ‘60’s by at least a couple of decades), Grant steering wheel (missing horn button mandatory), shrunken head hanging from the inside rear view mirror, and other bits of memorabilia—not to mention the overall “work-in-progress” theme—we are pretty much all set for a cruise/race weekend, circa 1968!

While it is becoming popular to perform high-end restorations on vintage drag cars from the era evoked by our case in point, it is also kind of cool to see an unrestored “working example” of one—even if it might not be a bona fide, pedigreed vintage racer (although it certainly could be).

One advantage to running such a car on the modern streets of SoCal, is, since it is a 1940 model, it (ironically) is now exempt from all current forms of emissions testing—the dreaded bogey to performance enthusiasts who choose to motor in later-model chariots.

1940 Chevy Vintage Drag Racer--Photo by Phil Coconis Use by Permission Only (6)Drag-On, you BODACIOUSLY VINTAGE CHEVY!

Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on this ttac site). He can be contacted through this very site, or

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10 Comments on “BODACIOUS BEATERS – and road-going derelicts): VINTAGE CHEVY in DRAG...”

  • avatar

    Badass lookin’ Chev. I recently lent a trailer out to a friend to pick up a ’35 Chev 5 window coupe project car that he plans to build in similar fashion to this car.

  • avatar

    It’s 25 years in Texas. See a lot of old stuff for that reason. Down here, that is more likely a pickup.
    If I get future grief with smog it’s back to the 57 210 even with the 13-15 mpg.

  • avatar

    Phil, that’s a ’41 Chevy.

    The 1940 is very similar but has distinct differences:

    1) The headlights and front fenders are separate from the body. The ’41 has them molded in, as can be seen above.

    2) The grille is slightly more upright and has a flat bottom.

    3) The body itself is a little more streamlined.

    The ’41 has been described as looking a little more like a loaf of bread compared to the ’40.

    The ’41 body would grow pontoon fenders for ’42 and remain in use thru ’48.

  • avatar

    How sad.

    I wish people would leave these things alone, at least the exterior anyway. The 40’s cars are hard to find in a condition not A:Mint, and too expensive or nice to customize B:Rotten and half embedded in a field C:Rat-trash-Rodded out to stupidity.

    By “customize”, I mean restomod all the mechanicals, NICE paint job with some effort put into it, brilliant chrome, some white walls, and maybe air suspension.

    This thing looks like something I could build in 3 weekends. All the chrome and vintage trinkets that made these cars great are gone. Flat black paint has been cool since 196never. Rust on stuff that isn’t even cool when it’s rusted. It’s a half-ass fart of a custom car.

    Who knows, maybe he found the car like this and did what he could with it. Though, it’s more likely that it was complete, and some dude trashed it. If you’re going to go this route, just do everyone else a favor and grab a 90’s Civic. These cars deserve better.

  • avatar

    Nice! Just out of High School in the mid 60s most of my friends and I were driving $500 55-57 Chevys. But one friend went old school. He ended up with a 40 Chev coupe like this and put in a 327 4 spd he took out of a wreck. It had black primer just like this one. It was kind of crude but scary fun.

  • avatar

    It’s a special edition Volare, isn’t it? Let me squint my eyes a bit. Nah.

  • avatar

    My own particular preference is “numbers matching all correct”. However, when you start to look at older cars,the cost can be staggering.

    What I find very cool,are “survivors”. Old fading paint,some worn trim,etc. I think such vehicles have a certain appeal.

    I will probably never own one,but a well done “Rat Rod” In my view is super cool.

    I would love to own this old coupe.

  • avatar

    I went to some of those ratrod/jalopy events a few times before, and to tell the truth they’re really not that cool. The only saving grace is that the cars are old, and that’s about it. If these were newer cars they’d just be clapped out pieces of crap with no appeal at all. The worst thing is the people that go to these events. If you want to surround yourself with potbellied greasy middle aged men, and Bettie Page wannabe trailer park women with tattoos, then I guess these events have some appeal then. If you had a time machine that could take you back in time to a 1950’s Walmart parking lot, this is pretty much what you’d find clientele-wise.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I always thought that 1941 was one of the truly standout years for GM styling – the Chevy , Cadillac and Buick in particular .One of the first times , if not the first , when Chevy became referred to as a ” Baby Cadillac ” or Buick .

  • avatar

    Well I like. I have seen many old cars that are like this one. But one thing about a lot of old cars you see that are like this one. Is a lot of the time the car would have been scraped. But someone resurrected it. Many times it is not the best work or just god awful. But many of them would have been melted down many years ago.

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