Yampa man collects top prize at Moab car show, continues to roll in 1940 Ford Coupe he bought in high school

Tom Yackey stands by his 1940 Ford Business Coupe. The car recently won the Hot Rod Division at the April Action Car Show in Moab, Utah.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Even before Yampa resident Tom Yackey had his driver’s license, he knew the model and make he wanted for his first car.

“I bought this car in March 1961 when I was a sophomore at Greeley High School,” the 78-year old said while talking about the 1940 Ford Business Coupe parked in his garage. “I remember my dad saying to me shortly after my 15th birthday, ‘You’re going to be driving in less than a year, so do you got any idea what you want?'”

His son was ready with an answer.

“I said ‘yeah, I want a ’40 Ford Coupe,'” recalled Yackey, who was living with his family outside of Greeley at the time. “A guy that was two or three years ahead of me in high school had one with a great big engine in it, and I thought it was cool.”

His dad was able to find the car his son wanted on a nearby farm, and the owner agreed to sell it to Yackey. However, the young man needed $125 before the farmer would let him take the car off the property.

The good news was that Yackey had been saving his nickels and dimes for awhile, and after the transaction was completed, he became the proud new owner of a 1940 Ford Business Coupe. All he needed at that point was his license.

Yackey still owns the car today, and on April 27, it won the Hot Rod Division at the April Action Car Show in Moab, Utah. He also enjoys showing the car as part of Cars & Coffee in Steamboat Springs and Colorado Cruisers in Craig. Last weekend, Yackey headed to a show in McPherson, Kansas, and has plans to do at least two more shows this summer.

Tom Yackey stands outside of his 1940 Ford Business Coupe, which he has owned since 1961.
JohnF. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Yackey said the car has come a long way since he first bought it. He was not a fan of the green color the car was painted with when he bought it, and quickly changed it to black. At the time, he was working with his dad at a CASE implement dealer near Greeley, and he had an opportunity to repaint the car black before he started driving it.

“It’s probably one of the most popular Ford cars ever built, and it has turned heads even when the paint was bad,” Yackey said. “Except when it was torn down for me to do what I did to it (recently). It was always drivable. It got so bad at times, the tires got old and rotten, and at one point I didn’t have any money to do anything with it, but I could still drive it around town. It’s always impressed people. It’s just one of those cars that turns heads.”

Yackey recently repainted the car, added a 267 cubic inch, 152 horsepower Flat Head V8, and upgraded the suspension. He had his friend Francis Abate, who owns First Ride Restorations in Steamboat Springs, help with metal fabrication, welding, trim and upholstery.

Tom Yackey’s 1940 Ford Business Coupe parked on Second Street in Yampa. The car recently won the Hot Rod Division at the April Action Car Show in Moab, Utah.
JohnF. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“I had it painted in 1994 to take it to my 30-year class reunion to show that I hadn’t improved any in vehicles since high school,” Yackey joked. “Then when I turned 65 and could draw social security and still work full time, I started putting quite a bit of money in it. I started out just to clean it up and make it drivable, but I couldn’t stop there. I ended up getting carried away and adding the engine I would have built for high school if I had any money back then.”

Yackey moved to Yampa in 1977 and spent 23 years working for the town, 18 years for Redmond Brothers Gravel, and then a few years with Eds Excavating and Raindrop Water.

“People always ask me, ‘Why did you keep it?” Yackey said of his car.  “I tell them it’s what I wanted when I bought it, and I’ve never not wanted it.”

He said they also ask him what the car is worth, or how much he would want to sell it. It brings back the advice Yackey got from his father on the day he bought the car.

“If you don’t want to sell it, don’t ever put a price on it,” his dad told him. “Because there will always be somebody willing to pay it.”

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