A '40 Ford Retakes The Trails
John Newell of Tucson, Arizona had been wheeling in the desert for many years in his 4WD Toyota truck. He bought it new in '87 and put about 300,000 miles on the odometer. He finally rolled it one too many times and the doors would no longer close completely, so he planned to build something new.
He decided that the 4WD he would build would be a little different when a friend found him a partially cannibalized '40 Ford truck. A deal was struck, and John hauled the old Ford home on a trailer. The end result is the eclectic purple rig you see on these pages. With a lot of help from good friend George Brewster, John assembled, fabbed, and painted this truck in his carport at home over a period of about two years.
John salvaged the hard parts from his crumpled Toyota and mated them to the vintage Ford sheetmetal. He had already swapped a solid front axle onto the Toyota frame, so the new rig was going to be set up again as a street-legal and competent desert wheeler.
The truck is motivated with the engine from the original Toyota; however, it has been fully rebuilt and stuffed with high-performance goodies. The power from there goes through a Centerforce Dual Friction clutch setup to a Toyota five-speed tranny and a Marlin Crawler triple transfer-case reduction. With 4.88 gears and Detroit lockers in both Toyota axles, this rig can tackle some good terrain and creep really slow if needed. The Toyota brakes are vacuum-assisted using a Stainless Steel Brakes electric vacuum pump plumbed into a Crane Cams vacuum reserve.
The suspension consists of leaf packs on all corners damped with Bilstein shocks. TeraFlex Revolver shackles are used in the rear along with Johnny Joints for extra articulation.
Once the body was successfully mated to the Toyota portion and all the mechanical details worked out, the body was straightened and filled then sprayed a velvety purple color. Creature comforts, trail utility features, and some modern electronics were added to complement the new project.
With the truck ready to tackle some trails, John mounted up some Mickey Thompson aluminum wheels and 33-inch Baja Claw tires. Rim screws have been added to help keep the tires firmly on the wheel bead at low tire pressure.
We spent a short time in this truck driving down the road and running some trails, and this rig induces plenty of rubbernecking. The truck can crawl good-sized rocks with ease, and people stare and give thumbs-ups to see such a unique restified vehicle. This classic Ford fits in well at a trail run or cruising the night with the street-rod crowd. We can imagine this old truck saw its share of dusty roads in its younger days, but it's back on dirt and looking good.