Sunday, February 14, 2021

1934 Ford Race Car restored and makes debut at World of Wheels

 Black 1934 Ford race car restored after rescue from woods is displayed at World of Wheels car show behind checkered flag that line the area around car.

Full circle. The 1934 Ford race car we hauled out of the woods is running! The J-2 made its debut in the World of Wheels car show in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend. After decades spent at the bottom of a "holler" deep in the Alabama woods, the race car was rescued and returned to the Massey family. Mike Massey, son of Sam Massey, one of the former drivers of the car back when it toured the dirt bullrings in the late 1940s and 1950s, spearheaded the efforts to restore it back to its racing roots condition. 

I got the unexpected news while walking through the woods. Ironic, since the voice on the other end of the line was calling about the 1934 Ford race car that the Junkyard Life crew hauled out of the woods in 2016. Mike Massey called to let me know that the old "J-2" family heirloom had been fully restored. 

Back in time
A quick look at the restored ’34 and you see a period correct race car from the 1950s with the flat head V8, black paint, and a few dings and imperfections.
  "We left a few dings in it because these cars weren't show cars back when they raced," Massey said.
  The car is lettered as it was when the Massey brothers raced it with the "Massey" name and "J-2" number. The body was heavily reworked due to decades of decay and racetrack abuse. The rear section including window was replaced with metal from a 1935 model.

The Massey family has been racing for many decades. They thought all the original race cars were gone. The rescued ’34 is a welcome sight in their shop.

Rear view of the 1934 Ford race car on jack stands in the Locust Fork, Alabama garage.
Massey & Sons Garage, Locust Fork, Alabama.

Whatever it takes
  The truth is that these auto racing pioneers raced whatever junk they could bolt or weld together. Spending as little money as possible in most cases. Some built race cars from wrecked daily drivers that were headed to the junkyard because they were cheap and plentiful. In the 1940s and 1950s, a few dollars could buy you a body and chassis from an "old" – at that time – 1930s-era vehicle.

Flathead engine
  The look would not be complete without a Ford Flathead V8. Massey did not disappoint. The engine is loud as it should be for a race car.

Engine shot of Ford Flathead V8 on the 1934 FOrd race car that was rescued from Alabama woods.
Ford Flathead V8 rumbles the floors in the 1934 Ford race car.

World keeps turning, keep driving
  The Massey family urged Mike to put the car in the World of Wheels show. Some may scoff, but I agree with their choice. I think there is no better time to share the car and this chapter of the story.
  A dream and a lot of work can 
take you anywhere you want to go. 

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life 

1934 race car has a display that tells the story of its rescue at the World of Wheels car show in Birmingham, Alabanma.
A display shares story of the 1934 Ford's rescue at the World of Wheels car show in Birmingham, Alabama.

Modern rubber Hoosier racing tires are one of the obvious differences from the 1950s tires used on the ’34 in its racing days.
(Compare width to tires in photo below.)

Sam Massey stands next to the 1934 Ford race car in this yellowed vintage photo. He is wearing coverall with his foot on running board. His name is above door on roof.
Sam Massey stands next to the 1934 Ford race car in this vintage photo. His son, Mike, restored the rescued race car back to original 1950s condition.

The 1934 Ford race car sitting in dirt down in woods. Rusty, no wheels and left for dead for 40 plus years.
1934 Ford "AFTER" photo as it sits restored at the World of Wheels car show.

Did you miss part of the story?

THE RESCUE: 1934 Ford Race Car in Woods
The five year ordeal to secure permission and ownership

THE BUILD: 1934 Ford Race Car
A follow-up on the Massey family restoration

A dream can start in the woods with a shovel, a chainsaw and a tow rope.
Thanks for reading!

Know details about an old race car? Have a find of your own?  
Send us the word and we’re on the way!
Email Jody Potter at