Turn-Key Cruiser – Mike Howard’s ’47 Ford Convertible
After decades of building and working on your own vintage cars and street rods, it can be a welcome relief to find an already-built vehicle to purchase, one that only requires some fine tuning to be an enjoyable cruiser. That’s what Mike Howard discovered when he bought this ’47 Ford convertible a few years ago.
“I’m pushing 80, so I don’t do a lot of my own work anymore,” Mike says. “This is one of those cars that hit me between the eyes. I’ve had coupes and sedans, but always wanted a convertible. This thing jumped out at me, and I said, ‘oh man, I’ve got to own that!’”
Mike found the car online in Southern California and after talking with the previous owner, Bob Labonte, Mike felt comfortable enough to send money and have it shipped to him in Colorado. “Bought it sight unseen,” Mike says. “Never done that in my life. Took the chance.”
His bet paid off, as the convertible is a well-built street rod with proven components like a Heidts independent front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc brakes, and an 8-inch Ford rearend riding on updated parallel leaf springs. The drivetrain is equally tried and true – a Vortec 350c.i. crate engine with an Edelbrock intake and carb, backed by a trusty TH350 automatic transmission.
Mike worked with a local shop, Poor Boy Rods, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, where Travis Kling and his team helped take care of some maintenance and updates, like making suspension adjustments, installing new Dakota Digital gauges, and adding comforts like cruise control and a heater. “He’s done me a lot of good,” Mike says.
Mike isn’t certain how long ago the car received its light beige paint, but it still looks fresh. It’s a color that looks good on a late-’40s car, especially when paired with the body-color 15×7- and 15×8-inch steel wheels topped with hubcaps and trim rings and wrapped in wide whitewall radials. Tasteful red accent striping and a black cloth convertible top help complete the look.
The classic character carries over inside, where brown vinyl upholstery is stitched in a traditional pattern on the seats and side panels and a woodgrain finish complements the chrome and body-color paint on the dash. A ’47 steering wheel tops the Ididit tilt column, and a Lokar shifter controls the transmission.
There’s no doubt this drop-top makes a great companion to Mike’s Deuce sedan, not to mention a fantastic good-weather driver when the skies are sunny in Colorado. But there’s one more factor that affirms Mike’s decision to buy this ’47 Ford convertible. “It’s the only car I’ve ever owned that my wife liked,” he says.
Photos by John Jackson