Searching for a perfect project truck

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You never know where the journey will take you

By Randy Beaudette

Sometimes events don’t always turn out the way that we think they should. Folks plan, but circumstances have a way of diverting us in an entirely different direction. Car maintenance and restoration is no different. You start off rotating the tires and end up installing new brakes which can turn into a $600 job if you want to do it yourself. At the Hot Rod Hill Climb in Central City last weekend, an interesting truck with no paint caught my eye, and here’s the background story as relayed by Carlos and JC Navarro.

In 2014 the Navarro brothers of Ft. Lupton set off on a quest to obtain a 1948 Ford F-1 pickup as a project truck. After an extensive search, they found a likely candidate that was located somewhere in the rural farmland around the Loveland area. Driving around in the back roads of northern Colorado, JC and Carlos got what Carlos describes as “a little lost.” While trying to navigate out of the labyrinth of dirt roads, they spotted a 1950 Chevrolet 3100 pick-up for sale in a grassy pasture looking like it was in need of attention. They approached the landowner to get a better look at the once proud Chevy. JC explains, “The truck had sunk in the mud up to here,” pointing at the running boards that are normally about ten inches off the ground. They negotiated the deal and agreed on a price. The very next day they retrieved their find from the field took it home to start the restoration process.

In 1947 Chevrolet restyled their pick-up to what they called the “Advance Design.” It had a bench seat for more room and comfort, a cowl vent, and easy crank-down windows. All this was powered by a 216 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine called the “Thrift Master Six” engine. The three-speed transmission was standard, but as an option the customer could get a four-on-the floor instead. The base price back then for the advance design Chevrolet 3100 was $1,087.

The Navarro brothers removed the 216 cubic inch inline 6 cylinder and installed a slightly more powerful 235 cubic inch inline 6 cylinder motor that they rebuilt, but utilized the original four-speed transmission. All the paint was stripped off of the body and to their surprise revealed that it was in perfect condition – no bondo and very little rust. The body was in such good condition that they decided since they had stripped the paint off, that they wouldn’t paint the exterior, but instead just clear coat the pristine bare metal. They painted the interior white, re-floored the bed and painted it white, then assembled the truck back to roadworthy condition. After two years of restoration, the pickup was back on the road in the great shape that it is today.

A vintage vehicle that is a field or barn find can cost a lot of money sometimes and take years to restore. While doing these projects, we sometime wish the vehicles could communicate – what interesting stories they could tell! Who owned this truck and why was it abandoned, left to slowly rust away eventually return back to the earth? The dedication of a restorer required is great to save a part of history that without hard work and long hours, could be lost forever. It takes a special kind of person to put forth such effort and exhibit their handiwork at car shows and exhibits.

During this process a lot can go wrong. What starts out to be a simple task can turn out to be monumental event that can cost hundreds of dollars and many trips to the machine shop or parts store. These delays can be disappointing to say the least, but the results in the finished product is worth all the frustration, time, and effort.

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