I received an email from Carlo Traverso who wrote that his grandfather has an original 1940 Ford Standard Business Coupe. The car has special meaning to Traverso for several reasons.

The most important is that his grandmother's cousin purchased the Ford new in Sebastopol. Secondly, Traverso's grandfather and the Ford's current owner, Lloyd Cuneo, rescued the car in 1975 after it had been parked for 10 years in a barn.

He paid the owner's widow $1,000 ($4,425 in today's dollars) for the non-running Ford that cost about $660 ($10,835 in today's dollars) when new. Third, Traverso learned to drive a stick shift with this 1940 Ford.

I wanted to see this car, as I learned to drive with a 1940 Ford too. This was the first year that Ford offered the three-speed shift on the column or, as the car people say, "three on the tree." In 1940, Ford offered two series, the Standard and the Deluxe. It's pretty easy to guess the better model. Some current new car models are designated by letters like MKZ, RDX or SRX, making it a little more difficult to impress your neighbors with a model designation.

Knowledgeable car people of that era would not be fooled into thinking you bought a Ford Deluxe when you bought the Standard as the grilles were different and the Deluxe came with two taillights while the Standard had only a left rear taillight. Cuneo's Ford is a Standard, but the original owner may have fooled some of his neighbors as he had a right rear taillight installed.

The old Ford had 79,000 miles on it when Cuneo acquired it.

"The car needed a paint job," Cuneo said, "because in those days everyone drove with their left arm up on the window sill plus the primer was showing through on the hood. The engine was frozen too."

The engine problem was temporarily solved by putting diesel fuel down the spark plug holes, rocking the car some, and finally pushing it down a steep hill and throwing it into gear. The 60 HP flathead V8 engine started but was later replaced with an 85 HP flathead V8.

Cuneo replaced the running board covers as part of the exterior paint job. The Orinda resident thought the green color was called Cloud Mist Gray, but the car is green so I had to check the Internet for 1940 Ford colors. I suspect the color is really Acadia Green, but Cloud Mist Gray is also listed.

A business coupe means this is a work car. The trunk extends from the back of the front seat to the rear bumper. Tires weren't as dependable then as they are today and the normal position for the spare tire was perpendicular on the front wall of the trunk.

But if you were the owner of a business coupe and had a flat tire, it would be an extra burden to unload your business tools or equipment to get to the spare. So the first owner, a carpenter, ordered the spare to be placed behind the driver's seat, mounted on the side opposite the normal location.

Cuneo's car was built at the Ford plant in Richmond. Everything is original other than the engine and paint job. The mohair seats, the headliner and inside door panels are what came with the car. The wear on the door panel where it contacts the side of the seat is noticeable. Even the glass is original with the famous Ford script and oval with the numbers 12 and 39 indicating the glass was made by Ford in December 1939.

The attractive dashboard and single-spoke steering wheel are chocolate brown but two-toned with a beige color with the Deluxe model. There is no heater or radio, apparently options unnecessary to the first owner.

Cuneo found the dealer's advertisement with the owner's manual that offered a heater/defroster for $21 ($345) installed and a Ford radio for $40 ($656) installed.

As a deterrent to theft, the ignition switch includes a deadbolt to lock the steering wheel. A button on the dash activates the starter.

Because the car is so original, Cuneo has invested less than $3,000 in the car, plus his sweat equity. He plans to keep the car in the family, but when asked, the owner estimates the current market value somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000. That value may be a little on the conservative side.

As grandson Traverso said, "They are only original once."

Have an interesting vehicle? Contact David Krumboltz at MOBopoly@yahoo.com.