When You Need a Sensible Tow Vehicle: Cab-Over Ford With Nowhere-Near-Finished Toronado FWD Drivetrain Swap

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
when you need a sensible tow vehicle cab over ford with nowhere near finished

It’s always good to have friends with way [s]crazier[/s] more ambitious vehicular projects than one’s own not-making-much-forward-progress Hell Projects. Rich, captain of the Rocket Surgery Racing mid-VW-engined Renault 4CV, has a [s]snake pit[/s] cornucopia of such projects at his place, not far from Chez Murilee in Denver. Rich, last seen by TTAC readers helping me Nader-ize the brakes on my van, has big racing plans for 2012… and for that he needs a flatbed truck that can haul a race car and tow a camping trailer. Oh, and it also has to be a beautiful vintage machine, yet capable of prodigious load capacity. The original plan was to use the ’47 Ford pickup he bought at the amazing Seven Sons Auto Wrecking auction last winter, but then this fine vehicle danced into his field of vision.

I don’t know the first thing about non-light-duty Ford trucks, but I have a vague recollection that this is a ’46. Early postwar, at any rate. For power, it has a 1969 Oldsmobile Toronado 455 front-drive setup. The engine and suspension are installed, sort of, but the steering system hasn’t been worked out yet.

This setup worked just fine on the front-wheel-drive GMC motorhomes of the 1970s, and it should work fine here.

Another part of the project that needs some work is the rear suspension. Right now, there isn’t one. I keep suggesting a pair of early Eldorado rear axles, for that cool six-wheeler look. That’s because I don’t have to do the work.

The steering setup is going to be a total nightmare, because there’s not much room for anything up front with the Olds running gear. Rich will have to fabricate something with a lot of strange bends and joints, or else ditch the super-cool front-drive setup and convert the truck back to its original rear-wheel-drive setup. You do what you have to do.

Whatever happens, the truck will look great in the paddock with this vintage “canned ham” trailer. Rich drove the length of the Great Plains to pick it up this summer.

Then, of course, there’s the engineless Autobianchi Bianchina Hell Project and more 40s Ford truck parts in the back yard.

Not to mention the sawed-up 4CV parts donor.

And the garage full of weird VW parts, including the long-idled GTI with every possible performance upgrade and a floor full of junkyard turbocharging gear for the 4CV.

On top of that, Rich has his 289-powered ’47 Ford coupe (which we used as a Judgemobile at the ’10 B.F.E. GP 24 Hours of LeMons) and a newly-acquired ’49 Ford sedan for his wife, who is a very, very understanding spouse to allow her back yard to fill up with all those rusty old car parts. Now I feel like a total loser for not getting much work done on my Civic engine swap or A100 Hell Project this year.









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  • MaintenanceCosts Will the Bronco have a four-motor configuration a la Rivian? That seems to me like the right approach for an EV off-roader. Enables lots of neat tricks.
  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
  • Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.
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