SCHOOL-YARD DREAMS —
GEAR JAMMERS ALL FIRED UP SHOW
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-bullshit type of dude, 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 liked 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 be 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 is Ian who Dave credits with getting his wild ’69 Ford Mustang — featured on the cover of NZV8 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, and Adam his offsider, is that he seems to have the same taste as me — we have very similar taste,” Dave says. “He knew what level I was on with this, and how far I wanted to go with it. Even with the Muzzy build, he talked me out of a few things [that] I wanted to do with it, just to give it a bit more subtlety. He’s really quite clever.” With the builder decided, the next step was to find a suitable candidate. Rather than look for local offerings, Dave headed straight online to find the best possible base to build on. As it turned out, an old fella in Texas had just the ticket, with a listing for a good-condition 1940 Ford pickup on a full Total Cost Involved (TCI) Engineering chassis — a project that he 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.” Decision made, Dave couldn’t lock the deal in quick enough, and the truck arrived in the country around March 2016. “When I gave it to Ian, I said I wasn’t going to go too far with it,” Dave admits, knowing 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. After all, despite it being something more than 70 years old, the only major repairs required involved a bit of rust at the rear of the cab. Although the original tray was long gone, the old bloke who originally owned it had managed to source a brandnew replacement. So, with such a solid base to begin with, how the hell did the build spiral so far out of control?
WHEN I GAVE IT TO IAN, I SAID I WASN’T GOING TO GO TOO FAR WITH IT
“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 carby to EFI [electronic fuel injection]. Then 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 thing up to a certain standard — which he was more than capable of doing. Not only did he find himself repairing the rust, but also massaging all of the panels 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 he’s done. Ian then handed the reins over to Ben at Matamata Car Painters, 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 all that I was going to use, and I just ditched it all and got new shit — even the grille; the grille that came with it was damaged, and I thought Ian was going to 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 [I] had it re-chromed,” says Dave. The motor that escalated the build to this level is built on a Ford Performance 347ci Boss short block, done locally by Gary Bogaart. As Dave wanted everything to look at home in the vintage engine bay, the fuel injection was taken care of by a four-barrel throttle body as part of a Holley EFI kit sourced from abroad. To ensure 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 mill,” 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’s no doubt helped by the fact that the entire mechanical package has been specified towards that end goal of creating a smooth and reliable driver. The smooth-shifting Ford AODE auto, rebuilt by Kaspa Transmissions, is one such component, and the full TCI chassis — which includes tubular A-arms, a four-linked rear, and a full suite of Ridetech adjustable coilovers — ensures pleasant driving dynamics. With that much modern tech crammed into the vintage frame, there was no way the interior would escape unscathed. The bare cab received a layer of Dynamat insulation, with the stock bench seat and
I SHOULD HAVE FIGURED A DRAG RACER WOULD HAVE A DIFFERENT IDEA OF ‘MILD’ TO MYSELF!
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, especially the roof and all of that — I didn’t want to go over the top,” Dave says, adding that “When you look at it, it looks real simple, but there’s a lot of shit jammed in there.” He isn’t wrong. With Vintage Air air conditioning, a full audio installation masterfully hidden by Neil Dodds at Phoenix Audio, and a reversing camera with screen hidden above the sun visor — all wired in by Charlie Payze at Custom Auto Electrix — Dave’s got all the mod cons that he wanted from a daily-driver without compromising the pickup’s vintage character. “I remember when I was building my [ VW] Kombi,” Dave recalls, “putting it through cert. It was taking forever, and I remember pissing and 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!” — but with this as the end result, we get the feeling that Dave’s not quite as opposed to intensive rebuilds as he once was!
DAVE’S GOT ALL THE MOD-CONS HE WANTED