RES­CUED FROM RESTORA­TION

THE UL­TI­MATE FARM TRUCK

NZV8 - - CONTENTS - WORDS: TODD WYLIE PHO­TOS: ROD DUNN

Chances are that, at some point in your life, you’ve driven through out­ly­ing ru­ral ar­eas and ad­mired the big sheds scat­tered through­out the prop­er­ties. If you’re any­thing like us, you’ll have won­dered what gems lay within them — could the sheds have been home to that elu­sive barn find you’ve al­ways dreamed of, or could they've been full of some­one’s al­ready-im­pres­sive car col­lec­tion? Or maybe — well, more likely — they were just there for the farm­ing es­sen­tials. Un­less you go door knock­ing or late-night pry­ing, you'll prob­a­bly never find out what such build­ings con­tain. Brigham Mac­Don­ald is one such farmer with one such large farm shed. It’s the type of shed that town­ies can only ever dream about own­ing, but the re­al­ity is that it’s there as an es­sen­tial busi­ness tool to keep the farm run­ning — how­ever, it’s also large enough to have things pushed into its cor­ners and for­got­ten about. A few years ago, Brigham’s five sons thought it was about time the old boy got a hobby, and, since he was, like all farm­ers, prac­ti­cal with his hands, play­ing around with an old car seemed like just the thing for him to get into. As his en­tire life has been on the farm and spent rais­ing the boys, Brigham had never acted on his in­ter­est in cars, never spar­ing the time or hav­ing the mo­ti­va­tion to build any­thing in­ter­est­ing or buy any­thing that wasn’t a prac­ti­cal work­horse. With the boys talk­ing him into splash­ing out, Brigham’s thoughts turned to the old ’46 Chev pickup sit­ting in one cor­ner of the

to get the height right, it would be eas­ier to drop the body onto a dif­fer­ent chas­sis

shed. It was the car that some of the boys had learnt to drive in, and it had been used as a farm hack for many years, un­til the bon­net flew off one day and it got parked up, all but for­got­ten about. Look­ing at the truck with fond me­mories, Brigham de­cided that restor­ing it to orig­i­nal would be a good in­ter­est out­side the farm work. Of course, his five boys thought oth­er­wise. Af­ter all, what would a group of young guys want with a grandpa-spec re­stored pickup? It was hardly the type of thing they’d want to be seen in, let alone score the keys to for head­ing off for a cruise in. As if be­ing out­voted five-to-one on his own project wasn’t enough to make Brigham re­al­ize the pickup was never go­ing back to orig­i­nal, the lads called in the dad of one of their good mates to take a look at it. Well, that good mate’s dad just hap­pened to be Les Beau­mont of Marl­bor­ough Clas­sic and Cus­tom Restora­tions (MCCR). Les ran through the var­i­ous op­tions with the fam­ily. When dis­cussing mod­i­fy­ing the truck, Les sug­gested that, to get it sit­ting at the height the boys wanted it, it would be eas­ier to drop the body onto a dif­fer­ent chas­sis and that find­ing some­thing suit­able might not be an easy task. Oh, how wrong he was, as, also tak­ing up space in the shed was an old Mit­subishi L200 ute, from which the mo­tor had been re­moved long ago. With Les an­nounc­ing that there couldn’t be any bet­ter chas­sis for the job than that, the truck’s fate was sealed — and a stock restora­tion was not go­ing to be a part of it.

“The ’46 was pulled out of the shed and de­liv­ered to MCCR, and the boys and I vol­un­teered to strip the L200. We pulled off the body and all the bits we thought we didn’t need. Les told us not to throw any­thing away till the project [was] … fin­ished — so we dumped ev­ery­thing apart from the rolling chas­sis and de­liv­ered that to him! The first thing Les asked was where the steer­ing col­umn was. Whoops!” re­calls Brigham, laugh­ing now about a sit­u­a­tion that wasn’t so funny at the time. With both the chas­sis and pickup at MCCR, Brigham would pop in from time to time to check up on progress. These chats evolved into talk about all sorts of other things, with the two grow­ing from strangers into great mates as the build pro­gressed. De­spite the MCCR team look­ing af­ter the build, Brigham wasn’t to­tally hands off — af­ter all, it was meant to be a project for him to do, not just to pay the bills. He got in­volved when he could, from strip­ping paint to run­ning parts and ev­ery­thing else that was achiev­able with­out Les’ years of spe­cial­ist knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence. “My wife and I had a trip to Christchurch on a buy­ing spree for shiny things,” re­counts Brigham. “Les sug­gested we see Fast Ed­die at Amer­i­can Auto Parts, who was re­ally help­ful. I got the steer­ing wheel, shifter, wiper mo­tor, rocker cov­ers, air cleaner, etc. It was fun, and, with­out the boys there, the choice of parts was mine but so was the bill!” he laughs.

Mean­while, Les and the team at MCCR were busy rec­ti­fy­ing the dam­age sus­tained by the pickup’s body over the 60-plus years since it had rolled off the pro­duc­tion line. With the well­side tray beyond re­pair, a re­place­ment was built from scratch un­der Brigham’s spe­cific in­struc­tions that it must have rolled top edges rather than square folded ones. A pair of fi­bre­glass guards was at­tached to the new well­side and mod­i­fied to suit the run­ning boards. Now that the boys were hav­ing their say on the di­rec­tion of the build, the pickup’s orig­i­nal mo­tor was never go­ing to have the power or noise they were af­ter. When search­ing for some­thing more suit­able, Les came across just the thing — a CF Bed­ford van that had been fit­ted with a 350ci small block Chev, TH350 trans­mis­sion, and Ford nine-inch diff. While the van’s en­gine was com­plete and run­ning, for peace of mind, it was sent off to Graeme at RPM on 8 for a tear­down and re­build. There, it was fit­ted with new in­ter­nals, in­clud­ing a de­cent cam. With a 600cfm carb al­ready fit­ted, along with a set of af­ter­mar­ket head­ers, the combo, while untested on any dyno, pro­vides more than enough power for the truck. The TH350 trans­mis­sion was also swapped across to the L200 chas­sis but not with the nine-inch; it is run­ning a Fal­con diff, which was mounted to the stock leaf springs. While the diff pro­vided disc brakes for the rear, more Mitsi parts were sourced for the front end in the form of L300 discs to match the L200 calipers. The whole lot is con­trolled by an un­der­floor-mounted mas­ter cylin­der and cus­tom pedal as­sem­bly. Over the years, time had taken its toll on var­i­ous parts of the truck, and some bits ei­ther just weren’t good enough to be re­fit­ted or had sim­ply van­ished over time. Thank­fully, Graeme the en­gine builder was also build­ing a ’46 and had a spareparts truck, which came in handy on more than one oc­ca­sion. With the body beaten back to per­fec­tion, the task of choos­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate colour was un­der­taken. This was one area of the build in which Brigham knew ex­actly what he was af­ter — how­ever, what he wanted didn’t ex­ist on any colour charts. Af­ter plenty of cus­tom mix­ing and spray-outs, the per­fect colour was ar­rived upon, and aptly named ‘Brigham blue’. The cab was the first item to be fit­ted, and, when Brigham saw it sit­ting there — no doors, no tray, no front end — he couldn’t help but take it down the road for a test drive. While Les was con­cerned that Brigham had for­got­ten he was in sub­ur­bia rather than out on the farm, the re­sult of the drive was one su­per-happy owner who now couldn’t wait to get the pickup com­pleted. Af­ter spend­ing plenty of time in the truck’s un­com­fort­able cabin back in days gone by, Brigham was de­ter­mined to make it a com­fort­able place go­ing for­ward. To help with this, the MCCR team called on Marl­bor­ough Mo­tor Trim­mers to stitch up a full cus­tom in­te­rior for it, to which a set of Auto Me­ter gauges and an af­ter­mar­ket heater sys­tem were added. With the in­te­rior and en­gine bay sorted, the fin­ish­ing touch to the ex­te­rior was re­quired, and there was no bet­ter wood for the job than macro­carpa grown on the fam­ily farm. The goal was to have the truck com­pleted by Christ­mas 2012, and, as the dead­line ap­proached, it was all hands on deck to en­sure the tar­get was met — and it was. By mid­day on Christ­mas Eve, the truck was all le­gal and de­liv­ered home for the first time. Since then, much as ex­pected, it hasn’t been just Brigham who’s en­joyed it, but his boys, too. Its de­but out­ing to the Nel­son Mo­tor Show, with el­dest son Dion be­hind the wheel, saw it take home Best Pre-’49, while an­other son drove it up for Repco Beach Hop 15. It’s not the awards that are im­por­tant to Brigham, though; it’s the ex­pe­ri­ence as much as any­thing — shar­ing not only time but also a pas­sion with the boys. The truck was an im­por­tant part of their past, and now it’s set to re­main an im­por­tant part of their fu­ture — and it’s never likely to be pushed into a cor­ner of the shed again.

the per­fect colour was ar­rived upon, Aptly named “Brigham blue”

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