Revitalizing a rare find

by Larry D'Argis . May 18 2018
LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSThe engine was rebuilt by Millar Auto Machine in Winkler.

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The engine was rebuilt by Millar Auto Machine in Winkler.

Fargo trucks have a long and storied history.

Originating in Chicago as the Fargo Motor Car Company, they sold trucks from 1913 until 1922 — when Fargo became part of Chrysler and produced commercial and fleet vehicles.

During the 1930s, the half and three-quarter ton Fargo trucks were built basically as an export vehicle and shipped around the world. By 1936 in Canada, Chrysler had split its sales divisions in two. Desoto and Dodge dealers offered Dodge trucks, but Chrysler Plymouth dealers were left hanging with no truck offering until mid-year when the Fargo truck line made its Canadian debut.

Manufactured in Detroit, Mich., as well as Windsor, Ont., Fargo trucks continued to roll off the assembly lines and were sold only in the Canadian and export markets until 1972.

While the Fargo truck differed little from its Dodge counterpart, the dual branding of Dodge and Fargo allowed Canadian dealers a competitive line of light-duty trucks against the paired GMC/Chevrolet and Ford/Mercury truck lines.

For Rick Giesbrecht of Stephenfield, trucks have always been a part of his life. “On the farm, I was about seven years old when I first learned to drive in a truck like this,” Giesbrecht says. In 2011, Giesbrecht’s father, Henry, spotted an ad in the Manitoba Co-Operator for a 1966 Fargo 100 for sale, located north of Neepawa in Glenella. Giesbrecht and his brother, Larry, loaded it onto a trailer and hauled it back to the farm.

The Fargo short-box pickup is a rare find. Powered by a 225 cubic-inch slant six-cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission, the Fargo had served for many years as a service truck at a local garage.

“The truck was in rough shape, but I pulled it off the frame and started a full restoration,” Giesbrecht says.

The frame was dismantled, repainted and all-new brake, steering and suspension components installed. The factory rear axle was retained and rebuilt with a 3.55:1 gear ratio.

The wheel and tire choice was chrome Crager SS five-spokes turning B.F Goodrich T/A radials. The truck box, tailgate and box rails were in poor shape, so Giesbrecht purchased a new box floor for a 1972 Chevy half-ton and cut it to fit the Fargo. The metal repairs to the box rails and tailgate were hand fabricated and welded by Giesbrecht, as was the scratch-built rear bumper.

The two-tone paint chosen for the Fargo is a base/clear Dark Orange and Bright White applied by Dwayne Bradley in Morden.

The truck has all of its original glass except for a replacement windshield and Giesbrecht rebuilt the gauge cluster and added a Sunpro tachometer and Sony AM/FM CD player.

Carpet and two-tone seat upholstery were sewn and installed by Omer Gautron at Omer Designs.

While the truck originally was equipped with a column-mounted three-speed manual transmission, Giesbrecht adapted a dash-mounted automatic shift lever from a 1967 Dodge truck.

For power, Giesbrecht purchased a 1967 Chrysler 383 cubic-inch V-8 and automatic transmission from Bill Peters in Friedenfeld.

The engine was rebuilt by Millar Auto Machine in Winkler and features Keith Black flat-top pistons, performance camshaft, mild head porting and is topped with an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold and 750 c.f.m. four-barrel carburetor.

On the engine dyno at Sandale Automotive in Grande Pointe it produced a respectable 405 horsepower. Backing the potent engine is a three-speed 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission, rebuilt with the addition of a mild shift kit by Dave’s Repair in Miami.

Exhaust duties are handled by a custom 2.5-inch dual exhaust with Delta 50 Series Flowmaster mufflers and chrome extensions, installed by Minute Muffler in Winkler.

The frame-off rebuild of the Fargo took just over 18 months to complete and is a real gem, thanks in part to Giesbrecht’s attention to detail, fabrication and welding skills.

Today, the mid-‘60s Ford and General Motors pickups are generally well represented — while the Dodge and Canadian-built Fargo trucks are harder to find.

57ford@mymts.net

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSThe interior showcases the truck's two-tone patterm featuring Dark Orange and Bright White.

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The interior showcases the truck's two-tone patterm featuring Dark Orange and Bright White.

Photos by Larry D'Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Photos by Larry D'Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressThe Fargo short-box pickup is a rare find, but Rick Giesbrecht of Stephenfield has fully restored one that he bought in 2011.

Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

The Fargo short-box pickup is a rare find, but Rick Giesbrecht of Stephenfield has fully restored one that he bought in 2011.