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1936 Ford Pickup Truck
The '36 PU was finished the first time in April, 1981 after starting the project in 1974. It had a 1978 231 V-6, Turbo 350, a '39 Ford front suspension and brakes, and a '57 Chevy rear end, using custom built parallel leaf springs. The steering was through the original column to a '67 Olds Cutlass manual box that bolted directly to the original mounting plate and the pitman arm was the correct length. Wiring was from Ron Francis when he was just getting started. I did not know about proportioning valves then, so I had more braking in the rear than the front (not good when it was wet and the bed was empty); I added an adjustable valve later and it is still in use today.
There was no heater, air conditioner, defroster, radio, or any other nice-to-have items. The truck drove and handled extremely well. The little V-6 ran out of steam at 117 MPH, but was very reliable for the first 115,000 miles. I pulled my bass boat behind the PU for at least 5000 miles, and towed my '36 5WC with it from Edmund, Oklahoma to Austin, Texas and Austin, Texas to Kingsport, Tennessee.
In 1990, I replaced the front end with a Mustang II kit and installed a mildly built 355 Chevy with a Turbo 350. In 1994, I swapped the Turbo 350 for a 700R4. Fuel economy improved but the huge drop in cruise RPM added to the driving pleasure. My initial investment in the truck from 1974 until on the road in 1981 was $4300 and change. The mods in 1990 totaled $2800 and change. The tranny swap was labor only. You could say the 207,000 miles I put on the truck was a $7100 dollar investment, but the driving experience was priceless.
How do you put so many miles on a street rod in 20 years? You drive it any and everywhere! Within a week of finishing the truck, I packed the bed full of tools and guns, hooked up the boat (loaded with other stuff) and moved from Homestead, Florida to Austin, Texas. There I drove it to and from work, 18 miles one way for 3 1/2 years. There's great bass fishing in Texas and some of the lakes were quite a haul away. The truck took me back to Florida for three years and then on to Ogden, Utah. While there, I traveled to Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and into Eastern Oregon. I retired in 1993 and the truck made the move to the Smokey Mountains where it was a daily driver except in the winter. I made several fishing trips to the Florida Keys -- even hauled back the 383 motor that is now purring away as part of the rebuild project.
Click here for Part 2: Planning the Project
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