If there is a vehicle that built the American economy, it is arguably the pickup. Consider its versatility in basic light-duty form: Farmers could bring their humble harvest to market in the same design that enabled store owners to deliver goods to households in both the cities and suburbs with efficient ease. Everything from animal feed, to building supplies, to small appliances could be transported, and it didn’t take long for adventurous outdoorsmen to convert their coveted workhorse into a weekend camper with a clever aftermarket add-on. Its evolution continues today, serving family needs in more powerful and luxurious ways than once envisioned. Meanwhile, the more vintage steeds have become a hot commodity among old vehicle enthusiasts, so in our latest edition of This or That, we bring you four half-tons from the Sixties to ponder for your dream garage – all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.
Up first is a pickup that regular readers of our Hemmings Classic Car magazine may recognize: this 1961 Studebaker Champ Deluxe, which appeared in the May 2019 issue, as well as our 2020 Hemmings Vintage Trucks calendar. Studebaker’s half-ton Champ was introduced to the truck market in 1960, and while it may have appeared as an all-new light-duty hauler at first blush, the company’s lack of engineering funds meant that the outgoing model – the Scotsman – was, on the surface, given a new name with a facelift, courtesy of the Lark sedan. Aside from the cab’s front end, save for a four-bar grille versus a mesh design, the Lark’s instrument panel was carried forward to the Champ, too. Two upgrades highlighted our featured ’61 model year: The use of a 110-hp, 170-cu.in. six-cylinder engine in base trim, and the “Spaceside” cargo box. The latter was made possible thanks to old tooling obtained from Dodge, which accounted for the mismatched cab/cargo box body transition. According to the seller of this Champ:
his 1961 Studebaker Champ Deluxe pickup is a nicely restored example. If you are a fan of the Hemmings Vintage Trucks Calendar, it was used for the July 2020 page. The red paint has the vibrant look of a modern quality respray, so the sunlight shows off the well-done bodywork as the Lark-inspired front end flows into a muscular bed design. And speaking of the bed, the finish applied over the oak wood on the bed floor and removable side stakes has a gloss that rivals the paint. This has upgraded chrome on the bumpers, grille, and side trim. The wheels have classic Studebaker hubcaps, and the whitewalls coordinate with the body’s white pinstripe. It’s believed Studebaker produced less than 7,700 consumer pickups across the entire line in 1961. The exterior red returns inside. It’s now joined by a tasteful black on the seat, carpeting, and dash. The experience inside this pickup is truly authentic, right down to the large dual-spoke steering wheel that gives a clear view to the correct classic gauges. The AM radio still cranks out tunes and the heater works. Plus, this one has the rare sliding rear window option. The engine bay has an authentic 170 cubic-inch straight-six backed by a column-shifted three-speed manual transmission.
Terraplane’s Cab Pickup Express might look a little too jaunty for the job site but, by 1937 standards, this was a stout light truck. If you glanced under the rear of a Series 70, and longer wheelbase Series 78 Terraplane commercial rig, you’d see a thick pair of leaf springs—15 leaves in both—that lent these trucks a hefty ¾-ton rating.
You’d also notice the sturdy “Double Drop 2-X” frame—it was the same design used in Terraplane (as well as Hudson) cars, but it looked purpose-built for hauling. A pair of boxed side rails—71/8 inches deep at their widest point between the axles—were tied together with a massive X-shaped member in the center and a smaller X-member in front. There were also three heavy-duty crossmembers, including a new one for the 1937 model year, added at the rear kickup. The Double Drop 2-X frame was riveted together, while the boxed sections of the rails were welded in place with 142 welds. For added rigidity, the vehicles’ floors were bolted to the frames at multiple points in what Terraplane called “Monobilt” construction.
Older adults around the country who lived through the Great Depression rarely throw anything out that could be useful down the road. Such is the case with this perfectly restored 1953 Ford F-100 truck. When Luke Lagrant, his father, and his grandfather pulled the truck out of the woods where it had been parked for many years, it was very rough. As the story goes, Lagrant’s grandfather tired of the 1953 Ford for some reason and decided to park it in the woods and walked away.
Lagrant says that his grandfather had replaced the 1953 Ford F-100 truck with a 1964 Chevrolet truck and the old Ford sat rusting in the woods until 2009 when the trio hooked it to some heavy machinery and towed it back home. Luke Lagrant was only 11 at the time and was in charge of putting screws in bags since many of them couldn’t be replaced.
An excellent well organised car show in a beautiful location, cars of all shapes sizes and ages were present.
Here’s the US related contingent of attendees. Classic wise the Galaxy, and the early red Mustang deserve a particular mention. On the modern front the Bullitt Mustang and the Ford GT stood out. There were also a couple of very nice 32 Hot Rod roadsters.
Following on from William’s previous introduction to The Drive Home IV, here’s how day one went.
Even on its best day, Houston is a driver’s nightmare. Mix in 24 hours of steady rain with nowhere to drain, and America’s fourth largest city becomes one giant concrete birdbath.
It seems it’s now part of The Drive Home tradition to begin our annual January trek to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with a “Hundred Year” meteorological event, but despite last year’s Bomb Cyclone projections, we’ve never felt more anxiety than during rush hour traffic in Space City. A brief excursion to sponsor Casa de Montecristo reaffirmed the need to avoid the overstressed expressway and return The Drive Home to the lazier backroads of America.
Echoing the Big Three automaker’s increased focus on truck/SUV production, this year’s Drive Home will feature a cross-country convoy of classic American pickup trucks—including a 1965 Ford F100, a 1957 Ford Ranchero, a 1955 Chevy 3600, and a 1962 International Travelette—navigating a 2,750-mile meandering route to the Motor City. The “World’s Quickest SUV,” a Hennessey Jeep Grand Cherokee HPE 1200 Trackhawk from Hennessey Performance of Sealy, Texas, will shadow the vintage trucks all the way to Detroit.