1940 FORD PICKUP

RE­FINED DAILY-DRIVER

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents - Words: Con­nal Grace Pho­tos: Adam Croy

In the world of au­to­mo­tive mag­a­zines, mis­in­for­ma­tion is rife. Some­times it takes the form of in­flated power fig­ures; other times it re­lates to a ve­hi­cle’s le­gal sta­tus on New Zealand roads; and, in a few cases, it con­cerns a per­son’s in­ten­tions with a ve­hi­cle. What­ever the mat­ter, we can con­clude that the av­er­age Kiwi car owner loves to spin a good yarn.

Dave Pol­wart is not the av­er­age Kiwi car guy, though. He’s a no-non­sense type of per­son, so, when he says he’s go­ing to daily-drive the 1940 Ford pickup you’re see­ing on these pages, you’d best be­lieve it.

“I was look­ing around for a new daily, and wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent. I was look­ing at Ford Rangers and that sort of stuff, but I de­cided to go away from that and go for some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent,” he ex­plains. “I like the shape of the 1940 Ford — to me, it’s al­ways been the most at­trac­tive pickup.”

Dave al­ready knew that when it came time for the ac­tual build, the truck would go straight to Ian Kenyon at Ob­ses­sion Mus­cle­cars — a ta­lented car builder, Ian has done plenty of work for Dave, and al­ways to the stan­dard that he ex­pects. It was Ian who Dave cred­its with get­ting his amaz­ing ’69 Ford Mus­tang — fea­tured on the cover of our sis­ter mag­a­zine NZV8 for Is­sue No. 28 — to where he wanted it to be. If you’ve had the priv­i­lege of see­ing the Mus­tang in per­son, you’ll know just what a job that must have been.

“The real good thing about Ian is that he seems to have the same taste as me,” Dave says. “He knew what level I was on with this, and how far I wanted to go with it. Even with the Mus­tang build, he talked me out of a few things I wanted to do with it, just to give it a bit more sub­tlety. He’s re­ally quite clever.”

Re­fined daily-driver

With the builder de­cided, the next step was to find a suit­able can­di­date. Rather than look for lo­cal of­fer­ings, Dave went on­line to find the best pos­si­ble base to build on. As it turned out, there just hap­pened to be the per­fect pro­ject in Texas: a list­ing for a good-con­di­tion 1940 Ford pickup on a full To­tal Cost In­volved ( TCI) chas­sis — a pro­ject that the owner had re­signed him­self to not be­ing able to com­plete and the per­fect foun­da­tion for a re­fined daily-driver.

“I re­searched it all be­fore buy­ing the truck,” Dave ex­plains. “I asked Ian, who asked the en­gi­neers over here whether they had seen TCI [chas­sis] be­fore, and they said it wouldn’t be a prob­lem, which is why I went this way.”

With the de­ci­sion made, Dave couldn’t close the deal fast enough, and the truck ar­rived in the coun­try around March 2016.

“When I gave it to Ian, I said that I wasn’t go­ing to go too far with it,” Dave ad­mits, know­ing full well that the end re­sult is far nicer than ei­ther he or Ian ever planned for it to be.

When the pickup first rolled in, Ian was un­der­stand­ably happy with its con­di­tion. De­spite it be­ing more than 70 years old, the only ma­jor re­pair re­quired was fix­ing some rust at the rear of the cab. Although the orig­i­nal tray was long gone, the man who had orig­i­nally owned the truck had man­aged to source a brand-new re­place­ment.

Out of con­trol

So, with such a solid base to be­gin with, how did the build be­come so in­volved?

“I’d thought about go­ing for a flat­head to keep it all pe­riod cor­rect, but it’s a daily-driver and has to be able to haul loads, so it made sense to go for a Ford Per­for­mance short block,” Dave re­calls. “Then it sort of es­ca­lated from car­bu­ret­tor to EFI [elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion]. Then it was the trans­mis­sion — I wanted some­thing that wouldn’t play up, so I went for the elec­tronic one, and then I thought, ‘Well, it’s a small cab so it’s go­ing to get stuffy and hot in here, so I want air con’ … and so on, and so on.”

Sud­denly, Ian found him­self briefed to bring the en­tire pro­ject up to a cer­tain stan­dard — which he was more than ca­pa­ble of do­ing. He found him­self not only re­pair­ing the rust but also ad­dress­ing all of the pan­els, bring­ing them to a mir­ror-like state. Con­sid­er­ing the curves and con­tours on the body of any Ford from that era, you can’t fault the job that he’s done. Ian then handed the reins over to Adam, who sprayed the flaw­less pan­els in PPG ‘Root Beer’ brown paint — a re­mark­ably sub­tle colour, al­most black, that re­veals a deep shade of metal­lic, bronze-tinged brown un­der cer­tain light.

“I had the lights and ev­ery­thing I was go­ing to use,” Dave men­tions, “and I just ditched it all and got new items — even the grille; the grille that came with it was dam­aged, and I had thought Ian would be able to fix it. I man­aged to find a gen­uine old grille in good con­di­tion out of the States — very hard to find, but I got it off a guy who deals just in 1940 parts, and had it re-chromed.”

The mo­tor that es­ca­lated the build to this level was built on a Ford Per­for­mance Boss short block lo­cally by

As it turned out, there just hap­pened to be the per­fect pro­ject in Texas: a list­ing for a good-con­di­tion 1940 Ford pickup on a full TCI chas­sis

Gary Bo­gaart. As Dave wanted ev­ery­thing to look at home in the vin­tage engine bay, a four-bar­rel throt­tle body, as part of a Hol­ley EFI kit sourced from over­seas, was in­stalled.

To en­sure that Dave could also get his power steer­ing and air con­di­tion­ing, a full Vin­tage Air Front Run­ner ac­ces­sory drive was fit­ted; it in­cluded the al­ter­na­tor, power-steer­ing pump, air-con com­pres­sor, and com­plete mount­ing bracket and ser­pen­tine belt set-up.

“I asked Gary to build it as a mild street engine,” Dave says of the small block’s lopey idle. “I should have fig­ured that a drag racer would have a dif­fer­ent idea of ‘mild’ to my­self! It drives beau­ti­fully, though.”

That is no doubt helped by the fact that the en­tire me­chan­i­cal pack­age has been spec­i­fied to en­sure that the pickup will be a smooth and re­li­able driver. The smooth-shift­ing Ford AODE au­to­matic, re­built by Kaspa Trans­mis­sions, is one such com­po­nent, and the full TCI chas­sis — which in­cludes tubu­lar A-arms, a four-link at the rear, and a full suite of Ride­tech ad­justable coilovers — en­sures pleas­ant driv­ing dy­nam­ics.

Com­fort zone

With that much mod­ern tech­nol­ogy squeezed into the vin­tage frame, there was no way that the in­te­rior would es­cape at­ten­tion. The bare cab re­ceived a layer of Dy­na­mat in­su­la­tion, with the stock bench seat and cus­tom door cards trimmed in a beau­ti­ful brown leather by Mike Rodger.

“I kept the in­te­rior re­ally ba­sic. Ob­vi­ously, it’s all new, but I kept it ba­sic — I didn’t want to go over the top,” Dave says, adding, “When you look at it, it looks quite

sim­ple, but there’s a lot of stuff jammed in there.”

He’s not wrong about that. With Vin­tage Air air con­di­tion­ing, a full au­dio in­stal­la­tion mas­ter­fully hid­den by Neil Dodds of Phoenix Au­dio, and a re­vers­ing cam­era with screen hid­den above the sun vi­sor — all wired in by Char­lie Payze at Cus­tom Auto Elec­trix — Dave has got all the mod cons that he wanted in the pickup with­out com­pro­mis­ing its vin­tage char­ac­ter.

“I re­mem­ber when I was build­ing my VW Kombi,” Dave re­calls, “and putting it through cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. It was tak­ing for­ever, and I re­mem­ber moan­ing to Ian — ‘I’ll never do an­other build again!’ Then I started look­ing at these and, what the hell, I’m do­ing it again!”

How­ever, with this as the end re­sult, we think that Dave is not quite as op­posed to in­ten­sive re­builds as he once was!

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