Forty years ago, Ed Hall pulled the cover off a 1939 Ford convertible sedan in the basement of his printing company and took Dave Crawford for a ride. Crawford, who grew up in the automotive business, was hooked and soon had a ’40 Ford coupe of his own.
By TOM STRONGMAN
This casual ride was the beginning of a relationship that has, over the course of 40 years, grown into a deep friendship centered on the love of vintage Fords.
Hall, 91, of Overland Park, and Crawford, 83, of Leawood, rebuilt the engine in Crawford’s coupe and often drove to events together. In 1991, they took two ’41 Fords on a 6,000-mile trip to Whistler, British Columbia, and back. “We built cars to drive well,” Hall said, “and we didn’t worry about wear and tear.” They carried spares and made repairs when needed.
In the mid 1980s, Hall convinced Crawford that they should tackle a full restoration. They bought a disassembled ’47 Mercury convertible. They began the painstaking process of restoring the car to a “professional level” by stripping every nut and bolt, overhauling the engine and having it painted. In 1993, the finished car won a Senior Award in an Antique Automobile Club of America competition, which is quite an accomplishment.
About 1997, Hall and Crawford began a total, frame-off restoration of Hall’s ’39 convertible sedan. While the body was being painted by the Lindan body shop in Merriam, the pair concentrated on the frame and mechanical components. Then they began the process of refitting the body to the frame. The body was “like a wet noodle,” Crawford said, requiring lots of shimming to get the doors to fit just right. “It was a real chore,” he said, smiling with satisfaction. The interior was completed by R & R Automotive and Body in Merriam.
The finished car is spectacular. The fit and finish is flawless. Details, such as the warm-air heater that directs engine heat to the cabin, show the lengths to which Crawford and Hall went in their attempt to finish the car in “near factory” condition. What’s more remarkable than the car, however, is the dedication and friendship these two have shared for more than 40 years.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. To read other Gallery stories, go to tomstrongman.com.