Find of the Day: This ’32 Ford panel truck is a retrophile glamper van waiting to happen – David Conwill @Hemmings

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The first time I went to The Race of Gentlemen, back in 2014, I encountered a guy camping on the beach in an early ’50s Chevy panel truck. This was an idea I’d had myself, but I’ve never owned a vintage panel truck. To see it in action was quite inspiring.

Now, I’ve got a family, so to take them camping would require something more akin to a Model AA chassis built up as a house car. But if I were, I dunno, an itinerant photographer or a guy with a Harley 45 who wanted to see the United States without destroying his kidneys, I think this 1932 Ford Panel Truck for sale on Hemmings.com could be a cool rig.

The exterior on this one is starting to shade past “patina” and into “decay,” so I could see a re-spray in a period Ford commercial color. This one looks like it might have been Medium Cream, but I’d be tempted to go with Vermillion Red (possibly the original color, according to the seller).

The nice thing about this truck is that it’s built on the passenger-car chassis, so you’ve got a ton of flexibility. There have been ongoing experiments with the Deuce frame since 1932. I would be tempted to set aside the original (right-hand drive!) chassis, complete with its four-cylinder drivetrain. All that would be neat under a Model A roadster body someday.

You can buy brand-new side rails and crossmembers for a 1932 Ford. The path of least resistance would probably see me going the 1980s street-rod route with parallel leaf springs in the back and a solid axle with four-bars in the front. It’s not period correct but it’s stupidly simple and solid, which is what you want in a road-trip car. Paint it black and let it disappear.

For wheels and tires, the aftermarket offers really convincing replicas of 1940-’48 Ford 16-inch steel wheels. That would give the truck the look of something still in service during or after the war years, when 16-inch tires were the most common and easy to get. I might be tempted to add a dropped headlight bar and a pair of Guide 682c sealed-beam headlamps with integrated marker lights—another popular retrofit in the ’40s and useful for adding turn signals.

We’re going to go back to the 1980s under the hood, too. The fuel-injected 302 and AOD transmission from an old Crown Victoria should do the trick. Paint it flathead green and never open the hood with other people around. The trans I’d control with a ’40 Ford-style column shifter, as it would free up leg room. The associated ’40 Ford steering wheel has been appearing in ’32 Ford roadsters for about 80 years now, so it would look right at home in the panel truck.

Inside, I see a pair of bucket seats, probably contoured somewhat to alleviate miles behind the wheel since presumably this is a vehicle meant for getting somewhere. If you wanted to bring a motorcycle, you could leave one side open with tie-downs for that. Otherwise, I’d see bunks on one side and cabinets on the other with cooking gear and a chemical toilet for emergencies. The aesthetic could take a page from 1930s U.S. Navy vessels, which were marvels at utilizing space.

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Categories: 1932, David Conwill, Ford, Hemmings, Hemmings, Panel Truck, Panel Van

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