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"Checkered Past" '40 Ford Coupe: Ridler Winner on the Street

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You’ve seen this car before. In 2013, builder Andy Leach and owner Ron Cizek won the 50th Anniversary Ridler Award with this dramatic, yet timeless ’40 Ford coupe. It was in all the magazines and all over the internet. These guys built a beautiful show car and won one of the most prestigious awards in all of hot rodding. Once the spotlights went out, you might expect this car spend the rest of its life as a garage potato. I mean, nobody is going to actually drive something this outrageously nice, right?

This car might look better out on the street than under the lights at the show.

We’re here to tell you that assumption would be completely incorrect, and we have the photos to prove it. You could have knocked us over with a feather when we walked out into a Speedway Motors parking lot full of incredibly nice cars from the 2022 Barrett-Jackson Tour and spotted a familiar maroon profile. There parked amongst some new Porsches, Mercedes, and muscle car drivers was the “Checkered Past” ’40. It even had a few bugs splattered on the front. Once we picked our jaws up from the concrete, we went looking for Andy to get the story.

Everything is handmade on a car of this caliber.

As it turns out, driving this car was always part of the plan. Once the show car rounds were complete, Andy and his crew at CAL Automotive Creations got the ’40 ready for the road. The blown flathead is backed to a T56, so there are plenty of gears to choose from out on the road. The chassis was handmade by Andy and the CAL crew to not only look beautiful (seriously, it’s just as nice underneath) but also provide decent manners on the street.

Impossibly cool blown flatmotor. Were you expecting an LS?
It still looks like a '40 inside, too. Everything is just a little better.

On the morning that we spotted it, Andy had driven in from his Bennington, NE shop, which is about 60 miles from our Lincoln headquarters. Imagine rolling down the interstate and seeing an honest to goodness Ridler winner buzzing down the road next to you. Crazy.

One off wheels by Atomic Design and Machine.

On top of all that, let’s not forget that it’s been almost ten years since that Ridler win. That’s enough time for some trends to have come and gone. It’s a credit to this car’s timeless design that it still looks fresh and still draws a crowd wherever it ends up. Turns out, a ’40 coupe with a blown flathead will always be cool, and Andy’s subtle reshaping of those legendary curves has only made this one better.

More one-off goodness.
The wedge section accentuates the evil stance.

Winning the Ridler is a monumental achievement. Doing it with a car that can actually be used like a car is simply amazing. Thanks to Andy for bringing the car out and giving us all the opportunity to bask in its glow.

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