The Ford Motor Company had been busy in the late 1920s introducing the new Model A. That continued into the ’30s with new offerings and models to meet buyer demands.
Despite the stock market crash of 1929 and weathering the deepest and longest economic downturn in the history of the western industrialized world, later to be known as the Great Depression, Ford was very successful in sales of both cars and light trucks. Like the cars Ford produced, the light truck exhibited that same popular Ford style people wanted.
Today, the early Fords still enjoy a huge following and often show up in original, restored and street rod form at many local car shows. Stature, style and parts availability are what drive the industry and the Ford is represented in many areas, making these vehicles timeless.
For Doug Rempel of Winnipeg, the early ’30s Ford has been an indelible memory. “Back in Grade 2, I had a model of an early ’30s Ford Roadster and always wanted to own one.”
In August of 2013, Rempel found a for sale ad for a 1934 Ford pickup street rod in Pittsburgh. After many telephone calls and emails with photos, Rempel and his wife, Renee, decided it was time to take a flight down to see the truck, before making a final decision. “I liked the truck right away and after a test drive, we struck a deal,” says Rempel.
Back in Winnipeg, Rempel sent a certified cheque to cover the cost of the vehicle — and that’s were the process slowed to a crawl. After nearly a month with the cheque having to clear several banks in Canada as well as the United States, it was nearly six weeks before the truck was loaded and on its way to Canada.
After nearly nine weeks, Rempel had his pickup in Winnipeg. In late September, he had to be satisfied with a few fair weather cruises before putting the truck into winter storage.
The following spring, and a few miles later, the truck began to show some problems. Numerous oil leaks from the engine and transmission were a clue that all wasn’t well and the engine itself had become less responsive and had a tendency to run rough.
Rempel took the truck to SanDale Fabrication for some diagnostics and evaluation. The engine was subjected to a cylinder leak-down test and showed there was a 15 per cent to 25 per cent variation in cylinder pressure, which would explain the rough running attributed to leaking valves and piston rings on the 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet V-8 engine.
Several options were considered, and Rempel chose to go with a new GM 350-cubic-inch crate motor. Producing 366 horsepower and 423 lb/ft of torque, it was more than enough to move the 2,500-pound pickup down the road. Topped off with a high-rise aluminum intake manifold and 650 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor, it looks right at home in the engine compartment.
Also added were chrome engine pulleys, a chrome alternator and new chrome power-brake booster. Paired with electronic ignition and a new custom dual-exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers, it’s a great running engine.
Further examination showed the ring gear/flex plate that coupled the original small-block V-8 to the Turbo 350 three-speed automatic transmission had two cracks in it and needed replacing. That pointed SanDale to more investigation, and showed a poorly constructed driveshaft led to unnecessary vibrations that also cracked the transmission case.
A new, balanced driveshaft was installed along with a new transmission case. The 10-bolt Camaro rear axle was found to be in great shape and required no repairs. SanDale also manufactured a new powder-coated aluminum fuel tank that tucked up under the rear frame rails, as opposed to the box-mounted fuel tank, that was replaced with a custom trunk.
The family heirloom trunk belonged to Renee’s grandmother and Rempel stained it with a medium walnut stain and hammertone-finished the metal brackets and latches. It now houses the gel-cell battery and provides space for extra storage.
Rempel also took centre stage in the process by adding a new chrome I-DID-IT steering column to control the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. For the seats, Rempel purchased a used commercial sewing machine and three tan-coloured distressed leather hides. The result was new interior upholstery that relies on a linear theme that carries through the door panels and cab of the truck.
The previous seat featured a fold-down armrest, which Rempel reworked into a more useable centre console. Also rounding out the interior is a new navy blue carpet, new AutoMeter gauges, LED signal lamp and tail lamps.
The three months at SanDale really paid off. Rempel has the truck back on the road and just completed a 150-km run. “I’m very happy with the truck,” says Rempel.
Members of the Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba, the Rempels are looking forward to many more happy cruise miles ahead.