Two Trucks Together
Story Kevin Harper / Images Bill Erdman - January 24, 2013 10:30 AM
Bob Rayot of Oakland,New Jersey, knows a good thing when he sees it.
He knows that if one is good, then two is even better, especially when it comes to quality vehicles.
Bob has made a living in the auto business, specifically the tire market. He has seen plenty of quality vehicles in his day, but few will match up with the ones he calls his own.
Take the black 1934 Ford pickup, the one with the name, location and old style phone number of his tire business. Bob knows every nut and bolt on that truck. He’s the original owner and did the restoration work with a specific plan.
Look at the red ’34 pickup. He’s the original owner of this one as well and the mileage on the odometer indicates that the truck hasn’t seen a day of hard labor in its nearly 80-year life.
The pickup trucks you see were simply carrying on a tradition within Ford that continues to this very day. Henry Ford brought out his first such ride in April of 1925, utilizing the popular Model T. The truck, known officially as a “Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body” sold for $281 and sold well. There were 33,000 delivered to customers in that first year. Business owners (just like Bob) were quick to realize the practical and promotional advantage of having these utility vehicles. Within a few years, dealers sold the pickup bodies separately and more colors started to come into the palate.
When the Model T stopped, the pickups didn’t. The first year Model A truck utilized the Model T bed (apparently left over from the previous year’s production run). Curiously, the first Model A trucks were open cab with soft tops and canvas curtains available to thwart the intrusion of the elements. Eventually, the hard cab took over throughout the Model A run.
When the V-8 flathead engine arrived, the pickup benefitted. More power meant more ability to handle bigger loads and the truck had clearly established itself with those who were working the land as the Great Depression crept in to the world. The best illustration of this is probably from the Steinbeck novel, The Grapes of Wrath, when the Joad family loaded their belongings in an old Hudson truck and moved from the Dust Bowl. The pickup clearly served a purpose for those who had to get from one faraway place to another.
There’s no sign of the Great Depression in these trucks, even though they were created during that period of time. This duo has been meticulously kept and preserved.
Bob tells us that the black model has been restored with NOS parts. The dealer option painted wheels with their red stripes still provide service for the vehicle. While the black paint is not original, it is an exact match for the hue that was applied on the assembly line. The chassis remains stock with no temptation to change that. You will also find the stock 85 horsepower flathead as it came originally. The truck has a three-speed transmission and 3.54 gears. While the wheels are original, the Firestone four-ply tires are replacements.
Bob said the restoration was started five years before completion and the commitment to NOS parts and sheetmetal resulted in more than 95 percent use.
If there is a star in the stable, it would have to be the red and black ride. By 1934, Ford had started to allow many more of the colors besides the original black and green (with black fenders) and this red hue still holds the color after all of the years. Considered a ¼-ton truck by measuring standard, this truck is free of modification. Stock chassis components were refurbished and had some restoration work done in some areas, but they accurately reflect the construction. The 21-stud flathead engine is untouched and the same can be said for the interior, which is all black leather just like it came. It rides on correct wheels and Firestone tires were the choice of aftermarket rubber.
The trucks are seen at Antique Automobile Club of America shows and a view of the winner’s rolls finds frequent mention. It picked up its first junior in Purchase, New York, in 2002 with the first senior coming at Hershey, Pennsylvania the same year. The first preservation award was a Carlisle show in 2003 and the first Grand National came in Iowa that year. It has come away with national first place wins in AACA shows across the country.
There is no question that there is a clear appreciation of the trucks no matter where they end up. This commitment to quality can be seen from all angles. It’s double the pleasure in this garage.