Riding the Ford truck
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.