Following the Second World War, getting North America moving was a priority and Ford hit the ground running with its new 1948 Ford F-1 and Canadian F-47 truck line. Completely new from the frame up the truck sported the new Million Dollar cab. So named for the lofty sum Ford invested in its development, it was all-steel and taller, wider and longer than previous models and featured a new one-piece windshield. It was also insulated from road noise and vibration by the use of rubber insulators at key vibration points along the chassis.
Styling was fresh and functional with recessed headlamps and a chrome horizontal five-bar grill. With a full half-ton capacity it was built for work, but it also offered a level of comfort never seen before in a truck.
For Jordan Zaporzan, his 1948 Ford F-47 Panel truck was much more than just an old truck. At 12 years old in 2007, Zaporzan knew his passion wasn’t with something newer and saw the appeal in older vehicles and was determined to get a vehicle from that era. “I never saw another one like it, it was unique and all there.”
The ’48 Ford he found five miles west of Dauphin, Man. had sat for over 20 years, but with its pontoon fenders and blocky styling it was just what Zaporzan wanted.
After yanking the truck out of a half-foot of mud and emptying the grain out of the back, it was loaded on a trailer and headed for a full restoration. As a father-son project with his dad, Tom, the first order of business was to get the original 239 cubic inch, flathead V-8 un-seized. With the motor free, it was off to the machine shop for rebuilding. Bored 0.040” over and both ported and relieved, it received high-compression pistons, Isky 3/4 performance camshaft and Rev-kit, with adjustable lifters and competition springs. There’s a high-flow oil pump with full flow oil filter and the cylinder heads were shaved for an added compression increase. The engine is topped with an Edelbrock dual-deuce aluminium intake manifold with two Stromberg two-barrel carburetors. Lighting off the mixture is a Mallory electronic ignition and spent gases exit via headers and a 2.5-inch stainless steel dual exhaust system with glasspack mufflers.
Cooling is accomplished with a four-core radiator from a 1946 grain truck supplied by Zaporzan’s uncle Gary Sulatyski along with dual high-flow water pumps and electric fan. Speedway motors supplied the adapter to mount a Borg-Warner T-5 five-speed manual overdrive transmission to the flathead V-8, that leads to a nine-inch rear axle and 3.73:1 gear ratio, from a 1969 Ford 1/2 ton truck. The combination is far superior to the original three-speed transmission and factory rear axle and now allows the truck to cruise effortlessly at highway speeds.
The frame was sandblasted and powder-coated and for the suspension, the front end was rebuilt with new king pins, shocks, steering box, leaf springs and GM tilt steering column. An adapter was machined to allow for the original 19-inch diameter steering wheel to fit the column. To help bring the truck to a stop, a four-wheel disc brake kit was also installed.
Bodywork on the truck was the work of Del Kanton and the two-tone Burgundy Metallic and Raven Black base/clear paint applied by Eclipse Collision Repair in Dauphin. In back, the cargo bed of the truck is oak plank bed wood and stainless steel strips, similar to the open half-ton models and there’s an original Sun-Shield sun visor on the truck. An alternator was added in place of the factory generator and the entire truck received a new 12-volt wire harness from Painless Wiring.
LMC Truck supplied many of the reproduction parts for the build, such as the chrome bumpers, grille, and headlamp surrounds. Tinted front and side glass were also sourced from LMC truck, but the rear window door glass was custom cut by Speedy Auto Glass in Dauphin. For true curb appeal there’s a set of custom-made chrome wire wheels, shod with 6.50-16-inch wide whitewall Coker radial tires.
The cab features an original style rubber floor covering, electric windshield wipers and washers, Dolphin gauges, heater and a set of comfortable power, heated, leather bucket seats from a 2003 Buick Regal. For entertainment, there is a six-speaker Kenwood eXcelon stereo unit with 1,200 watt amplifier.
Finished on Aug. 31 of this year, after a nine-year restoration, Zaporzan joined the Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba and entered the panel in the 22nd Annual Flashback Weekend this September, where the truck took the Best 50’s Ford Truck award. Now studying International Management at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba, Zaporzan says, “I was never a massive fan of hot rodding and always wanted to maintain the truck’s authenticity, yet give it the upgrades to make it drivable, to get the best of both worlds.”
Stock, custom or street rod the original post-war Ford trucks continue to catch the attention of hobbyists and collectors alike. For Zaporzan his truck is nowhere near the end, just the beginning of a dream realized.