Elden Wittmier’s restored 1953 Ford F-Series truck has a refreshed, yet still vintage look due to a coat of 2005 Ford True Blue acrylic urethane paint and chrome-plated front and rear bumpers. (Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ford began selling its all-new F-Series truck line in 1948. Dubbed the “million-dollar-cab,” the new truck was wider and roomier than previous models and offered a much more comfortable ride.
1953 saw the second-generation F-Series trucks arrive, with a major styling upgrade and a sleeker, more modern look. Chrome trimmed headlamps and a dual bar chrome grill brought the truck closer to passenger-car styling.
All 1953 Ford trucks also had special 50th-anniversary horn buttons in honour of the company’s golden anniversary.
But 1970 was the special year for Elden Wittmier of Winnipeg. “I turned 16 and bought my first vehicle, my ‘53 Ford F-100 pick-up for $167,” he says.
After a trip to Calgary, the original flathead V-8 engine was proving unreliable for long trips, so Wittmier sold the engine and swapped in an Oldsmobile Rocket 425 cubic-inch V-8 and drove it for five years, then parked it in a shed on his farm in Swan River.
In 2004, Wittmier turned 50 and pulled out the ‘53 for a full makeover. “I stripped it into many pieces, had the frame and body parts sandblasted and painted and did some frame and suspension beef up work to ready it for the new 460 V-8,” he explains.
Modifications included boxing the frame and installing a custom independent front suspension system from Total Cost Involved. Installed by Gerry Demski at Springfield Motorsports, it features tubular upper and lower control arms, Alden coil-over shocks and power-assisted rack and pinion steering, bringing its handling light years ahead of the old I-beam front axle.
In back, Pro Gear installed a narrowed nine-inch rear axle with a highway-friendly 2.73:1 geared Detroit Locker centre section, turning Pro Street axles from Bears Performance Products. Stainless steel brake lines activate the power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes for superior stopping power.
Power for the old Ford is provided by a 1978 Lincoln 460 cubic-inch V-8 engine rebuilt by Barry Dawson. It features a mild performance camshaft, Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads with Crane roller rocker arms, Edelbrock Performer aluminum intake manifold topped with a 650 c.f.m. four-barrel carburetor and Ford Duraspark electronic ignition.
Exhaust is a set of custom 2.5-inch diameter duals with Sanderson headers leading to Magnaflow mufflers and stainless-steel tips. Keeping things cool is a rebuilt heavy-duty radiator, Edelbrock aluminum water pump, electric fan and March serpentine pulley and bracket kit. The engine is backed by a Lincoln C6 three-speed automatic transmission, rebuilt by JB Transmission.
Wittmier wanted to keep the truck’s look as close to the original as possible. The body was virtually rust-free, with only a few minor dents. The only queues it isn’t original are the custom firewall, 15-inch chrome reverse wheels, Cooper Cobra radial tires and the stance brought on by the updated suspension.
The healthy exhaust note is also a giveaway this is no stock pickup. Easy access to the engine compartment is thanks to a reverse tilt hood kit from Classic Performance Products. Wittmier also installed a new wiring kit from Painless Performance Products.
Paint is 2005 Ford True Blue acrylic urethane, which is very close to the original colour. The front and rear bumpers have both been chrome plated. The bed of the truck is finished in white oak with stainless steel bed strips. Added extras include dual tail lamps and dual-chrome side view mirrors.
Inside the cab, there’s an Ididit tilt steering column, custom steering wheel, blue carpet, Hurricane air-conditioning from Old Air Products and a Sunpro tachometer. The factory bench seat and headliner are finished in Oxblood red Ultraleather and the cab sports all-new tinted glass and windshield.
The truck was mostly completed by 2013 and was entered in the World of Wheels car show in Winnipeg, where it received best in class for conservative pickup and an International Show Car Association street achievement award.
It has about 2,500 miles on the odometer since the restoration. Wittmier and his wife, Diane, are members of the Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba and have enjoyed taking the truck to many local car shows.
This year the Fabulous 50’s Ford Club’s 24th annual Flashback Weekend takes place Sept. 7 to 9. It starts with a Sock Hop Social on Sept. 7 in support of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation. On Sept. 8, there’s a scenic cruise to Lockport and on Sept. 9, the club hosts Manitoba’s largest FREE car show at the Garden City Shopping Centre. For more information visit fabulous50sford.com
Inside the cab, the truck sports an Ididit tilt steering column and custom steering wheel.
Elden Wittmier with his 1953 Ford F-100 pickup. He originally purchased the truck used in 1970, the year he turned 16.