23 September 2015

Swap to Street Challenge: Finding our 1946 Ford Pickup

It all started as an innocent lunchtime conversation between Hagerty Parts Finder Davin Reckow and myself, which included these fateful words: “I bet there are enough parts at the Hershey Fall Swap Meet to build a car.”

A couple of days and several meetings later, and we were suddenly committed to our Hershey Swap to Street Challenge — for which four Hagerty employees will build a vehicle at the Hagerty booth during this year’s meet.

Then someone came up with the brilliant yet potentially foolhardy idea of driving it home to Traverse City, Mich., afterward, and I was on the hook to find a chassis for our build. Since the intent is to drive it immediately after Hershey, we’d need to get our title and plates sorted out beforehand.

With parts availability on our minds, we decided on the likeliest candidate: A Flathead Ford V-8 Pickup, preferably something from the post-war era for maximum highway drivability. We knew that this would give us the best variety of parts from the Hershey crowd, plus it’s something different from our previous employee-restored Mustang and Camaro projects.

Weeks led to months as we scoured close-to-home Craigslist ads for different Flathead V-8 Fords. Just as we were arranging a trip to Detroit, Davin and I decided to spend a day beating the pavement here in Northern Michigan around Hagerty home offices in hope of finding a local truck.

As luck would have it — and as these types of things so often seem to go — Davin knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy with some old Fords. One of many projects for this gentleman, a 1946 Ford ½-ton Commercial pickup, had laid in wait behind his barn for the last 20 years.

The truck had beautiful patina on the green paint and was home to a variety of moss colonies from its long slumber outdoors.  It was surprisingly solid and to our delight, all four flat tires, sunk six inches into the ground, rolled freely under the power of our come along as we pulled the Ford from the earth onto our trailer.

Cash in hand, we made a deal and had ourselves a starting point.

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