A prairie farm companion

by Larry D'Argis . Oct 26 2018
Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressThis classic Dodge pickup first caught Rick Giesbrecht’s eye when his uncle drove it around the farm in Roseisle almost half a century ago. He recently bought the truck and set about rebuilding it over a period of 16 months.

Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

This classic Dodge pickup first caught Rick Giesbrecht’s eye when his uncle drove it around the farm in Roseisle almost half a century ago. He recently bought the truck and set about rebuilding it over a period of 16 months.

Trucks have long been a prime piece of equipment on the family farm. From picking up supplies in town to delivering repair parts and tools in the field, the truck was a tool upon which many farmers continuously relied. Often lasting decades, many pickups survived as secondary vehicles before they were simply parked in the field and left to the elements.

For Rick Giesbrecht of Stephenfield, one truck has always stood out as the one he wanted. “I was about five years old in 1970 when I saw my uncle Dan’s 1966 Dodge D100 pickup truck on the farm in Roseisle,” he says. “I really liked it, and I remember talking to him about it as we watched the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on television, with Campbell singing and playing his guitar.”

Giesbrecht’s uncle purchased his new 1966 Dodge truck from Murray Motors in Carman at the deeply discounted price of US$1,700. Because of its two-tone Bright White and Toreador Red/Orange paint job, it languished on the lot until May 31 as truck buyers opted to purchase the usual green or blue trucks. Powered by a 225-cubic-inch slant-six engine and three-speed manual transmission, the Dodge was well cared for and served for many years on the farm.

“Forty years later, I saw the truck parked in the trees at the farm and I asked my cousin Dan Jr. if he would sell it to me,” Giesbrecht says. The truck had 72,000 miles on it and had sat for some time, but it was straight, with only the usual lower-body rust and small dents.

Giesbrecht started by pulling the box and body off the frame, dismantling, repainting with POR-15 and installing all-new brake, steering and suspension components, including new rear leaf springs. The factory 8 3/4 rear axle was retained and rebuilt with a 3.55:1 gear ratio. The wheel and tire choices were chrome Crager SS five-spokes turning B.F Goodrich T/A radials.

Giesbrecht performed the metal repairs, welding in new rocker panels, lower door skins, patches to the floor and cowl section below the windshield and adding a scratch-built rear bumper. The two-tone base/clear paint was mixed to be as close as possible to the factory colours and applied by Dwayne Bradley in Morden. A chrome grille was purchased from Weiss Auto in La Broquerie, replacing the original painted grille, and dual side-view mirrors were installed. While it doesn’t get used for hauling, the box floor is finished with a black spray-in boxliner.

The truck retains its original glass, except for a replacement windshield. Giesbrecht rebuilt the factory gauge cluster and added a Sunpro tachometer, Equus triple gauges and Sony AM/FM CD player. The two-tone seat upholstery was fabricated and installed by Omer Gautron at Omer Designs. While the truck was originally 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 1976 Chrysler New Yorker 440-cubic-inch V-8 and Torqueflite A-727 three-speed automatic transmission to replace the original six-cylinder and manual transmission. The engine was bored 0.030” over by Piston Ring Service in Winnipeg and features Keith Black flat-top forged pistons, Mopar Performance Purple Shaft 292 duration performance camshaft. Giesbrecht’s friend, James Wheeler in Darlingford, fully ported the cylinder heads and helped with the engine assembly. Topped with an Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum intake manifold and 850 c.f.m. Holley double-pumper four-barrel carburetor, it’s built to go.

Other features include Mopar Performance ignition, Carter fuel pump, Champion aluminum radiator and truck centre dump exhaust manifolds, leading to a full 2.5-inch diameter custom dual exhaust system, with Flowmaster Delta 50 series mufflers and stainless exhaust tips. Dave’s Repair in Miami, Man., rebuilt the three-speed A-727 Torqueflite automatic transmission, adding a mild shift kit and 3,000 r.p.m. stall Hughes torque converter.

The frame-off rebuild of the Dodge truck took just over 16 months to complete, and thanks to Giesbrecht’s attention to detail, fabrication and welding skills, it’s a looker. Future plans include the installation of power steering, to make the truck a bit more comfortable to drive.

Today, the mid-’60s Dodge pickup is a much rarer sight at shows and cruise nights than the Chevy or Ford trucks, but Giesbrecht likes his family heirloom D100 just fine.

Giesbrecht says, “It’s 50 years later, but every time I drive it, I pop in the Glen Campbell CD and it takes me right back.”

57ford@mymts.net

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press