23 September 2015

Swap to Street Challenge: We’re building a 1946 Ford pickup at Hershey

4 Gearheads. 100 Hours. 1 Epic Build.

At some point over the summer, someone here at Hagerty came up with that unlikely formula. Will it add up to success? Stay tuned!

The aforementioned “epic build” involves a 1946 Ford ½-ton commercial pickup, and we are excited to share our journey with you — all the way from the swap meet to the street — but first, let’s lay out our plans.

Our goal is to bring the truck back to life at the Hagerty booth from Wednesday, Oct. 7, to Saturday, Oct. 10, during this year’s Hershey Swap meet, using parts from vendors at the meet. Since there are so many parts for sale in Hershey, our team of four Hagerty employees, including me, is hoping that there will be no issues finding what is needed. Especially since we decided to add an additional element of difficulty — the truck must be roadworthy by end of day on Saturday so we can drive it nearly 750 miles to Traverse City, Mich.

We already have the chassis, purchased ahead of time for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s our ride home and we had to have it registered and insured for the road. 2. We needed to look over the beast of a project that we have gotten ourselves into in order to plan ahead for the intense four-day (and night) build.

Despite its wheels being buried 6 inches in the soil behind a barn in northern Michigan, the truck rolled out of its slumber surprisingly easily. It has no engine, and had been sitting outside for decades. At first glance, the truck was in better shape than expected: the body solid, the glass good, and with a natural patina that — if you look closely enough — tells its story.

Once it was up on a lift and we were able to take a closer look at the underside of the truck, we came to the realization that we lucked out: The previous owners prepared the truck for its long-term residency outdoors, almost as if they had planned to get it back on the road someday. All of the important components were covered in grease, which saved it from rot and will make most of the bolts come off more easily than we’d expected

The first priority is to sort out the safety issues: brakes, steering and suspension. The drum brakes and axles will be rebuilt and all bearings replaced. Next, we’ll tackle the wiring and the engine installation, then hopefully we will have a little time to work out the quirks that will be necessary to get the old gal back on the road.

We see this as a difficult but not impossible project, thanks to the truck’s condition and the team’s combined technical skills and knowledge of classics. Our hope is to show others who are interested in the hobby that it really is possible to get involved — even with a low budget — by starting with a good base and working up from there. In turn, we aim to inspire further rescues for the other classics that are in a deep slumber, deteriorating outside and just waiting for someone to come along and bring them back to their former glory.

Will we make it? Stop by our booth at Hershey or watch our progress live here starting the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 7: https://www.youtube.com/user/hagertyknowsclassics/live

You can also keep up with the project by visiting our Swap to Street Challenge website or following us on Facebook.

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