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Cummins-Powered 1939 Ford Sedan Deluxe

Imagine Running From the Law in a 725hp, Cummins-Powered ’39 Ford

Chris Tobin
Dec 5, 2019
During the U.S. Prohibition era (1920 to 1933), this '39 Ford Sedan Deluxe's predecessors were the vehicles of choice, used for running moonshine and other spirits throughout the country thanks largely to the powerful (for that time) flathead V-8 engine that powered them, relatively good handling, and, of course, a roomy trunk.
Fast-forward 80-plus years, and nearly anyone over the age of 21 can use a wide variety of vehicles to run down to the local grocery store and pick up a "package" of their favorite blend. But that doesn't make a 21st-century hot rod any less cool, even if it is more than 80 years old. Todd Cox, the owner of Todd's Hot Rods in Oakwood, Illinois, wanted to build a personal project vehicle that would be special. The perfect candidate came along when the grandfather of one of his crewmembers decided he wasn't up to building the car and sold it to Todd. That sale started the two-year build project that culminated in the amazing RestoDiesel hot rod seen here.
The car was originally green and in desperate need of restoration after having many different owners during its 80-year life. But rather than simply restore the car or even just get it running and driving with the "patina" that's all the rage, Todd and his team chose to completely build it from the ground up, turning it into a vehicle they could use to show off their fabrication, design, build, and paint talents. After completely stripping the old machine, they fully boxed and braced the frame to ensure it is able to handle modern driving dynamics as well as the turbodiesel engine they planned to stuff between the framerails.
Photo 2/38   |   Todd Cox and his team at Todd's Hot Rods teamed up with Scheid Diesel Service to create this one-off, diesel-powered '39 Ford Sedan Deluxe.
The reworked chassis uses a Heidts Suspension Systems Superide II independent front suspension system with tubular control arms, Wilwood disc brakes, and RideTech coilover shocks. In the rear, Todd installed another independent suspension setup, this time borrowed from an '02 Nissan Skyline. The rear suspension also uses RideTech coilover shocks to tame the ride and support the car. For rolling stock, Todd chose Toyo Proxes R888R tires, 205/40ZR17 up front and 235/40ZR18 in the rear. The tires are wrapped around 17x7 and 18x8 US Mags Heavy Artillery wheels that feature a two-piece design with painted centers and polished rims and Ford-logo center caps.
After the chassis was completed, the team went to work on the body, which understandably (after more than 80 years) was in need of serious attention. Before the black paint was sprayed, they shaved the exterior door handles, integrated hidden hinges, and bear-claw latches for the doors. Then they reworked all the panel gaps to create tight and uniform lines throughout the car. Todd's crew also smoothed the running boards and integrated aftermarket headlights and taillights into the front and rear fenders in addition to removing the bumpers and refining the surface to a perfectly smooth finish.
Photo 3/38   |   Lifting the long hood reveals the highly detailed common-rail Cummins engine built by Scheid Diesel Service. It does more than just look good, too. Boasting 725 hp and 1,450 lb-ft of torque on the engine dyno, the powerplant propels the lightweight sedan to high speeds with a blip of the throttle.
Todd turned to Scheid Diesel Service to build a 6.4L Cummins I-6 turbodiesel engine that's worthy of the full hot-rod treatment the "Bootlegger" represents. Rather than starting with a heavy cast-iron Cummins block, Dan Scheid chose one of his company's billet-aluminum forgings. Within the block spins a stock 6.7L Cummins crankshaft, with a set of billet connecting rods swinging a set of Diamond Pistons slugs. A billet-steel Scheid Diesel camshaft actuates the valves in a CNC-ported cast Cummins cylinder head with the intake shelf milled off for better porting and enhanced airflow.
Ironically, rather than using mechanical fuel injection, Todd and Dan chose to take the modern route with a common-rail fuel-injection system that improves driveability and performance. A 165-gph FASS Fuel Systems Titanium Series injection pump and filter send fuel from the tank to the CP3 high-pressure injection pump and then to a set of 50hp injectors. A single BorgWarner S366 turbocharger feeds an air-to-water intercooler (and ultimately the engine) plenty of boosted air.
The engine is controlled and monitored by a stand-alone Bosch Motorsports ECM with a DDU-10 in-dash display monitor. With tuning by S&S Diesel Motorsport, the engine made 725 hp and 1,450 lb-ft of torque on the engine dyno. Scheid Diesel Service also built the '01 Dodge 47RH four-speed automatic transmission to handle the grunt its 6.4L Cummins dishes out.
Photo 4/38   |   The V-8 grille emblem belies the 6.4L Cummins I-6 turbodiesel mill that lurks under the Standox Deep Black hood of this gorgeous hot rod.
Todd and his team merged the chassis, drivetrain, and body together, then wired the car and integrated a wiring harness from S&S Diesel Motorsport to link the common-rail Cummins engine to the Bosch Motorsports ECM. Once the engine was in, the car was sprayed with several coats of Deep Black Standox color and clear before cutting and buffing the paint to a flawless finish. Under the hood, the engine is dressed up with plenty of polished aluminum, chrome, and painted (Axalta Imron Red) accents.
Ryan Patten in Champaign, Illinois, was trusted to handle the custom upholstery, which, of course, had to match the rest of the car. So, a bright-red Ultra Leather interior covers everything from the floorboards to the headliner. Ryan built the interior with four bucket seats while Todd's team custom fabricated a metal dash. The seats are separated by a console that runs from the dash to the rear package tray and houses the power-window switches as well as a pair of cupholders and the Lokar shifter used to select gears in the 47RH transmission. A billet-aluminum Budnik steering wheel points the Ford in the desired direction while a Lokar throttle pedal provides the go and Wilwood's brake pedal handles the whoa.
After a two-year build, Bootlegger debuted at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis, Indiana, in December 2018. However, the fully completed project was displayed in all its glory at the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza in August 2019. Todd's Bootlegger doesn't illegally transport alcohol (thought it very well may have in its early years), but thanks to the immaculate build and amazing attention to detail along with a potent Cummins engine under the hood, the car garners more attention than ever.
Photo 5/38   |   For better visibility, Todd installed a set of aftermarket headlights that smoothly blend into the fenders and light up the darkness.
Photo 6/38   |   The billet-aluminum Scheid Diesel valve cover vents to a fabricated-aluminum catch can and breather mounted to the passenger side of the firewall.
Photo 7/38   |   A single BorgWarner S366 turbocharger is bolted to a three-piece exhaust manifold that hangs off the CNC-ported Cummins cylinder head. Vibrant quick-release clamps ensure a leak-free seal.
Photo 8/38   |   At the front of the engine bay is the cooling package, which features a fabricated aluminum reservoir for coolant that flows through the air-to-water intercooler, as well as the radiator (with an integrated transmission cooler to save space).
Photo 9/38   |   The intercooler and custom aluminum boost tubes dominate the driver side of the engine compartment.
Photo 10/38   |   Here you can see the manifold that replaces the intake shelf that was milled off when Scheid Diesel Service ported the head. This hot rod sports one of Scheid's billet-aluminum engine blocks.
Photo 11/38   |   Like most high-end hot rods, the interior of Todd's ride is a special place, which features four bucket seats, a fabricated metal dash, and everything painted and/or wrapped in bright-red Ultra Leather by Ryan Patten.
Photo 12/38   |   A Budnik steering wheel and Lokar shifter and throttle pedal work together with the Wilwood brake pedals to give Todd an excellent feel for what the car is doing when he slips behind the wheel. The custom dash also features a Bosch Motorsports DDU-10 data display for the Bosch ECM as well as an EinCar Android-powered audio/video head unit.
Photo 13/38   |   The rear of the cabin features a set of bucket seats divided by the console as it continues from the dash to the rear package tray, where a pair of JBL GTO-Series 6x9 two-way speakers is located.
Photo 14/38   |   Of course, the headliner matches the rest of the interior.
Photo 15/38   |   The clean design for the door panels features a metal speaker grille in the lower front corner to protect the JBL 6.5-inch two-way component speaker system installed in each front door.
Photo 16/38   |   Up front, Bootlegger rides on 205/40ZR17 Toyo Proxes R888R tires wrapped around 17x7 US Mags two-piece Heavy Artillery wheels with polished lips and bright-red centers that are further accented by a polished Ford caps.
Photo 17/38   |   This '39 Ford looks great, especially with its perfect stance. Note the tight panel gaps and tolerances as well as the shaved door handles and smoothed running boards.
Photo 18/38   |   Looking closely under the passenger-side running board, you can see the oval exhaust outlet as well as the custom exhaust system fabricated to hug the bottom of the chassis.
Photo 19/38   |   Even the fuel door is smoothed, with a magnetic release and pump-through cap to keep things nice and clean.
Photo 20/38   |   019 1939 Ford Sedan Deluxe Gascap
Photo 21/38   |   A simple line of polished stainless steel trim is used to accent the body lines.
Photo 22/38   |   The red upholstery theme carries over into the trunk, where panels are fit to finish off the inside of the car as well as the rest of the build.
Photo 23/38   |   Aftermarket taillights dress up the rear fenders, giving the Sedan Deluxe clean lines from the rear.
Photo 24/38   |   Toyo Proxes R888R tires and US Mags Heavy Artillery wheels also support the back of the car. But, as it is with most hot rods, the rears are larger, with 235/40ZR18 tires wrapped around 18x8 wheels.
Photo 25/38   |   Under the rear of the Ford lie the fuel tank and FASS Fuel Systems Titanium Series lift pump and filter system. The independent rear suspension adapted from an '02 Nissan Skyline is not what you would expect to see under a diesel rig.
Photo 26/38   |   Looking at Todd's Ford from the rear, one can really appreciate the smooth bodywork and flawless paint the team laid down on the classic sheetmetal.
Fast Facts:
Year/Make/Model: '39 Ford Sedan Deluxe
Owner: Todd Cox
Hometown: Oakwood, Illinois
Odometer: 20 miles
Engine: 6.4L Cummins I-6, billet-aluminum block, 6.7L Cummins crankshaft, Fluidampr balancer, Diamond Pistons pistons, billet-steel rods, CNC-ported Cummins cylinder head, Scheid Diesel Service billet-steel camshaft
Fuel: FASS Fuel Systems 165-gph injection pump, Bosch CP3 high-pressure injection pump, 50hp injectors
Air: BorgWarner S366 turbocharger, custom-fabricated air-to-water intercooler
Exhaust: PTC Diesel Power three-piece manifold, chrome-plated turbo-back 4-inch tubing
Tuning: Bosch Motorsports ECM with tuning by S&S Diesel Motorsport
Transmission: Dodge 47RH four-speed automatic with performance build by Scheid Diesel Service
Horsepower: 725 hp
Torque: 1,450 lb-ft
Tires: 205/40ZR17 (front), 235/40ZR18 (rear) Toyo Proxes R888R
Wheels: 17x7 (front), 18x8 (rear) US Mags Heavy Artillery
Suspension: Boxed, braced chassis; Heidts Suspension Systems Superide II independent; RideTech coilover shocks; tubular control arms (front); Nissan Skyline independent; RideTech coilover shocks (rear)
Axle: Nissan Skyline with 3.54 gears
Body: Shaved door handles, hidden door hinges, bear-claw latches, panel gaps sized, running boards smoothed, Standox Deep Black paint
Interior: Bucket seats (front/rear), full-length center console, bright-red Ultra Leather upholstery, custom-fabricated metal dash, Bosch Motorsports DDU-10 display, EinCar Android-powered audio head unit
Fun Fact: The unlikely pairing of Todd's Hot Rods and Scheid Diesel Service started more than 15 years ago, when Todd Cox painted Dan Scheid's first dragster. Later that year, Todd started sled pulling. A friendship developed and Todd knew who to turn to for a unique powerplant for his latest hot-rod creation.

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