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Flattie Fattie

A '47 Tudor That Runs a 3/4 - Race Flathead Engine

Photography: Jeff Tann
Words: Jeff Tann

 

Huntington Beach, California body shop owner Mitch Lanzini has been a street rodder for many years. After finishing an award-winning roadster, he was looking for another project when he came across a totally stock '47 Ford Tudor sedan. He purchased the car with the hope of building another street rod, and he had it for quite a while. The more he wanted to work on the sedan, the more his workload increased, so he finally figured he would probably never get around to working on it. He listed it for sale, and before long Bob Sohn saw the sedan, which was exactly what he was looking for.

Sohn and his wife, Tricia, drove the sedan for several months, and it always had an overheating problem. Although flathead engines are known for running warm, the problem was getting worse, so he decided to disassemble the engine to find out what was wrong. The problem turned out to be a 9-inch-long crack in the block. Now what?

Sohn started looking for a replacement block and finally found an excellent one. Since he wanted to increase the Flathead's horsepower, he decided to turn the sedan into a street rod. At first, Sohn thought it would be an easy inexpensive way to rebuild the sedan, but he soon learned that Flathead parts aren't cheap. The block was bored to 3-5/16 inches and outfitted with Ross  forged pistons. Combined with the Offenhauser polished aluminum heads, the engine received 8.6:1 compression. Sohn contacted Motor City Flatheads and ordered a 3/4-race cam with a 0.360-inch lift and 282 degrees duration, and a gear drive was used for cam-to-crank timing. A polished aluminum Offenhauser intake manifold and a pair of Stromberg 94 carburetors handle fule. A Mallory ignition lights the fire, with exhaust passing through Fenton header-style exhaust manifolds. Some of the interesting internal parts consist of stainless steel valves, one-piece valve guides and adjustable lifters. Since Sohn used an original block, it was mated to the stock '47 Ford three-speed manual transmission.

The beefy original engine didn't necessitate a complete frame reconstruction, so Sohn just rebuilt the original parts. The sedan also needed a lower ride height, so a dropped axle was installed. He also played around with the springs and shackles until the car had the desired ride height. When he finished, he equipped the sedan with 15x6- and 15x7-inch American Torq-Thrust wheels running BFGoodrich 205/60R15 front tires and 225/60R15 rear tires.

 

The little Tudor sedan body retains all the stock trim for a resto-rod look, but it has been improved with an awesome House of Kolor Magic Blue paint job and a one-piece windshield.

While Sohn was getting the sedan ready for paint, he found that the body wasn't as good as it looked. According to Sohn, the paint was the only thing holding the car together. With the help of a good friend, Bob Youngsma, the two spent several months welding and fabricating new metal parts for the car. The two of them also did all the other bodywork needed to get the car ready for paint, except for the final prep work. When they felt the sedan was perfect, it was delivered to Lanzini's shop for the final prep and the House of Kolor Magic Blue paint finished. Sohn wanted to keep the body very close to original, so the only changes were the smoothie running boards and a one-piece windshield by Clack's Glass in Texas. Stock bumpers were used in front and at the rear, and Mooneyes tri-bar headlights replaced the stockers.

The next step was the removal of the mohair and the installation of the tweed and leather upholstery. Orange Auto Upholstery handled the interior work, with the wiring done by Sohn and his father-in-law, Bob Saunders. The stock seats were retained, rebuilt and upgraded with a nice combination of gray tweed and leather, with a gray carpet. sohn restored the dash, which was painted blue to match the car, and then he had all the trim chromeplated. He also installed a Vintage Air climate control system. He didn't want to cut up the perfect dash to install the vents, so he fabricated custom vents, so he fabricated custom vents that retract under the dash when they're not being used. The interior was finished with a Custom Autosound stereo system with a six-disc CD changer.

Sohn and some of his talented friends transformed the stocker into a nice street rod. Now the car is driven almost every weekend to rod runs and car events in Southern California. The only problem Bob and Tricia have with the sedan now is trying finding a spot for all the trophies it brings home.

 

The Flathead engine was bored to 258 ci and runs Ross forged pistons, a Motor City Flathead cam, Offenhauser heads, and an Offenhauser intake with a pair of Stromberg 94 carbs.

The plush tweed and leather interior was stitched by Orange Auto Upholstery. All the original seats were used and updated for style and comfort.

Sohn spent plenty of time restoring the dash and then painted it to match the body and color. All the interior dash trim was chromeplated and the stock gauges were retained.