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Interview

1940 Ford Pickup

Story and photos by Jerry F. Boone

Garth Bonney can give you lots of reasons he has a thing for 1940 Fords.

It was the first car he ever owned.

“And I really do like the art-deco styling,” he says. “They just look good.”

But Bonney says he wasn’t really looking for another project when he spotted the old pickup at a swap meet around 2005.

But as soon as he saw the truck, he knew it would end up being his.

The truck had spent its life on a farm in the high desert of Eastern Oregon.

“There were plenty of dents, but no rust,” he says.

And there was plenty of potential.

“For the first year or two, all I did was look at it and dream about the possibilities,” he says. “And it ended up exactly as I dreamed it would.”

That means an engine “with lots of chrome” and a stock looking body and big, fat whitewall tires.

“I really like whitewalls,” he says.

From the outside, it would be easy to mistake the Ford for a nearly period-correct restoration.

But it is anything but.

The body rides on a TCI chassis from Ontario, Ca. The engine is the ubiquitous Chevrolet 350 mated to a 350 turbo hydra-matic and power goes to the rear wheels via a Ford 9-inch rear end.

“A couple of my friends chew on me for not keeping a Ford engine in it,” he says. “I suppose I could have, but it was an 85-horsepower Flat head, and there is just so much more available for the Chevrolet.

“The engine is very close to stock. The only thing I changed was the carb and the exhaust.”

And the throaty exhaust is the first key that the truck isn’t exactly what it looks to be.

Bonney says he’s been tinkering with cars for years. Still, it took him about six years to convert the truck, working a bit at a time.

He did just about everything, including filling the dents and getting all the body pieces to fit right, spraying the 1940s “Washington Blue” paint and doing all the upholstery.

“The body was in such good shape that I really didn’t have to do any heroics,” he says.

“And I was a journeyman saddlemaker, so the upholstery wasn’t an especially difficult job.”

He also worked as a furniture maker, which was a handy skill set to have when it came to building the truck bed’s wood floor.

Unlike many restorers of trucks of that vintage, Bonney stopped the sanding and spraying with six layers.

“It is important that the floor still looks like wood,” he says. “On this one you can still see the grain.

“I’ve seen some floors out of restoration shops where there are so many coats of finish on the boards that they look like Formica,” he says. “I just don’t like the way that looks.”

Is there anything he’d do different if he was starting all over again?

“Nothing that I can think of,” he responds. “It’s a beautiful body style. It was offered in the 1939 and ’40 cars and the 1940 and ’41 trucks.

“The nice thing about a project like this is there are so many knowledgeable people out there who will answer questions and offer advice, that there really were not any major problems.

“And remember, that everything under the body is brand new. You can buy parts for the drive train and chassis anywhere.

“But there aren’t a lot of ’40 Fords around anymore.”

Recommendations
Click on any item below for more details at Amazon.com

James K Wagner
Ford trucks since 1905
Crestline Pub, Hardcover, 1978

This book covers all trucks, buses and panel van trucks from 1905 to 1978. It is illustrated with many black and white photos. Recommended for any Ford enthusiast library.


Ford Motor Company
Ford 1939 and 1940 Engine & Chassis Repair Manual
Lincoln Publishing/Polyprints, Paperback, 1940
This is a high-quality reprint of the manual that Ford mechanics used for the basics in servicing vehicles. It includes service procedures for ignition, carburetor adjustments & specifications, fuel pump, clutch adjustment & removal, transmission, axles, brake adjustment, and universal joint removal & disassembly. You can use the information in this manual to restore all 1939 and 1940 Ford V8 models.

Benny Bootle
The 1940 Ford book: A compendium of current restoration practices
Early Ford V-8 Club of America, Unknown Binding, 1987

This book is published by the Early Ford V-8 Club of America. If it is not available at Amazon, try VintagePlanet.com. Their description reads, “(Third Edition) This book is printed on high gloss paper is the best 1940 Ford restoration guide book in print today. (I have used this book extensively in my own1940 Ford Deluxe restoration). This book covers interior and exterior restoration tips. If you are looking to know what the original 1940 Ford looked like this is the book for you. This book also has interior fabric and color guides. Book loaded with pictures!”


Editors of Street Rodder Magazine
How to Build A 1935-1940 Ford Street Rod HP1493
HP Trade, Paperback, 2006-05-02
A step-by-step guide to building Ford street rods from 1935-1940 although much of the material can be applied to any street rod project. Chapters include chassis, drivetrain, electrical, body, interior, and painting.

George H. Dammann
Illustrated History of Ford, 1903-1970 (Crestline Series)
Motorbooks International, Hardcover, 1970-06
The evolution of Ford automobiles and trucks is depicted through hundreds of black and white photographs and drawings, with captions.

Ford Motor Company Auto Manufacturing & Production: The History of the Henry Ford Assembly Line & Ford Automobiles
Quality Information Publishers Inc., DVD, 2006
This DVD contains four brilliantly made industrial propaganda films produced by The Ford Motor Company used to promote the continued growth of the automobile industry. Packed full of footage of automobile manufacturing plants and workers in action these films bring the history of auto making back to life. Table Of Contents: (1) The Human Bridge (1949) - An in depth look at the work of an automobile engineer. Shows how engineers work to improve the comfort and efficiency of automobiles and shows how a car is designed from the inside out. - 12 Minutes (2) Highland Park Ford Manufacturing Plant (1920s) - Great silent footage from Henry Ford’s Highland Park Ford manufacturing plant’s dedication to the Ford Model T. Also has footage of the smoke stacks of the plant falling as the plant was taken out of operation and better plants were constructed - 12 Minutes (3) The Harvest Of The Years (1930s) - In depth and fascinating look at how ford manufactured cars in the 30s. Covers Ford’s creation of the raw material for automobiles all the way through the assembly line and out to the show room. Great footage of manufacturing plant workers at work. Even talks about the thousands of gallons of molasses that go went into making cars - 22 Minutes (4) Henry Ford’s Mirror of America (1962) - This film looks at the life of Henry Ford and his impact on industry and transportation in America. This film also looks at daily American life and culture from 1915 to 1935. Contains rare footage of Henry Ford with Thomas Edison, Firestone, The President, and other famous people from the day. This timeless masterpiece is one of the very best films from this era - 36 Minutes
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