Rid­ing the Ford truck

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE -

In the 1975 movie ‘Prem Ka­hani’ Vinod Khanna is shown driv­ing a Ford truck painted in a shade of white. In a pe­riod cos­tume dat­ing back to the pre-in­de­pen­dence era, and typ­i­cally the mid-40s, Khanna is shown fer­ry­ing a wounded Ra­jesh Khanna in his truck. Suf­fer­ing a wound as a free­dom fighter, Ra­jesh Khanna with the po­lice in hot pur­suit ex­presses a wish to his fel­low fight­ers as he lies low with them in an un­der­ground shel­ter. He would like to go to the nearby town where his clos­est friend (role played by Shashi Kapoor) is a po­lice su­per­in­ten­dent. When his fel­low fight­ers ex­press shock, Ra­jesh Khanna tells them that if he were to be­lieve in some­one more than him­self it were his friend. Con­vinced by this ex­pla­na­tion, one of the fel­low fight­ers en­trusts the task of fer­ry­ing Ra­jesh Khanna to Shashi Kapoor’s house. Vinod

Khanna in his inim­itable style drives the Ford truck at great speeds to ward off a po­lice pa­trol van af­ter he breaks past a po­lice check post on the route.

As the truck reaches Shashi Kapoor’s house, both Vinod Khanna and Ra­jesh Khanna are as­ton­ished to see the light­ing work, a com­mon af­fair dur­ing fes­ti­vals and spe­cial oc­cas­sions in In­dia. To his sur­prise, it does not take Ra­jesh Khanna long to learn that his girl­friend has mar­ried Shashi Kapoor par­tially un­der duress from her fam­ily and partly be­cause Ra­jesh Khanna him­self was avoid­ing mar­ry­ing her be­cause of the na­ture of his ac­tiv­i­ties and the risky life that he en­dured. A small but cru­cial part played by the Ford truck in the movie and Vinod Khanna as the driver leaves a last­ing im­pres­sion. The sound of the petrol en­gine as Vinod Khanna starts the en­gine sim­ple re­fuses to fade away from the mem­ory af­ter watch­ing the movie. It also serves as a proof that trucks ran on petrol then. To think of a petrol truck to­day would be sim­ply im­pos­si­ble con­sid­er­ing its price. In 1975, the cost of petrol was Ru­pees-five per litre ap­prox­i­mately.

Con­tin­u­ing pro­duc­tion post World War II, and with changes to en­sure that the truck would ad­dress the needs of a civil­ian duty, the Ford truck fea­tured in the movie car­ried the ro­bust­ness and tough build qual­ity of the army-built trucks. Since civil­ian ve­hi­cle de­sign was es­sen­tially non ex­is­tent dur­ing the war years, changes were quite mod­est to be pre­cise. The cab, a com­bi­na­tion of clean and straight lines with bul­bous fend­ers and a slen­der bon­net, was bolted to a lad­der chas­sis. Claimed to be a one and a half tonne ma­chine, the truck was pow­ered by a 289 CI flat­head V8 petrol en­gine and four­speed trans­mis­sion. Fea­tur­ing leaf spring sus­pen­sion at either end, the truck is said to have been as­sem­bled from kits at a lo­cal as­sem­bly oper­a­tion.

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