Good afternoon all, long time lurker (somewhat infrequent commenter), first time poster.
Had a good experience at work today I thought I might share, and thought some of you might appreciate. I’ve worked in collision repair for about 17 years, the last 13 months of which at a bit of a boutique shop with a couple good friends. We do a mix of traditional repairs, from scratch and dent jobs to non drivable train wrecks. We also do restoration work, albeit somewhat selectively. Most of the restorations that we’ve done have been recently purchased cars that the new owners wanted dressed up, but we handed the keys over on a finished project today that had a bit of a different story.
Six months ago, a gentleman came in asking if we’d be willing to take on a ‘66 F100. It was his fathers truck since new, and he’d had it since his father passed. From what I understood, it mostly sat neglected in his garage until about eight years ago, when he decided he wanted to restore it to it’s proper glory. Found a restorer in the area, brought it in, paid a rather substantial amount of money, and got completely screwed in return. He was doing a pretty stock restoration, the only modification being made was a switch from 3 speed column shift to automatic C6 transmission with a modern Ididit tilt column, and a front disc brake conversion. When he got it back, it didn’t run, the body panel alignment was atrocious, all the rubber weatherstripping had a protective layer of paint on it, the paint inside the cab was peeling, and it was weeping rusty water out of every body seam (none of which had been sealed). $10,000 later, it looked like shit and didn’t move under it’s own power.
We started with the mechanical end of things first. Once we got the wiring corrected so that the starter would crank the engine over, it sounded like someone driving railroad spikes with a sledgehammer. The previous shop had dropped the motor on the crossmember, crushing the oil pan baffles into the crank. Pulled the motor, replaced the pan, freshened everything up with a gasket set (cylinder walls and valvetrain were miraculously clean for a 50 year old 352), and replaced the two barrel setup (really Ford? 2BBL on a big block?) with a more adequate four barrel intake and carb. Rerouted the master cylinder and proportioning valve plumbing so that the lines actually went to the wheels they were intended to go to, and removed the brake lines from the exhaust (seriously, who straps brake lines to exhaust?!). Had to relocate the transmission cooler, which for some reason was mounted on the floor of the cab, parallel to the road surface, with nary an air guide to be seen. A more current Pertronix ignition (can’t recommend these enough, so simple to install it’s funny, and dead nuts reliable) replaced the points and solved our vacuum advance dilemma, and concluded our mechanical endeavors.
Then it was a few months of cutting away rust that someone thought would be easy enough to fiberglass over, removing a few paint jobs, aligning panels, seamsealing joints to prevent corrosion, painting/polishing/etc, and reassembly.
The owner came in to pick it up today, and it was heartwarming to see his reaction to his dad’s old truck. It’s been a part of his family and his life for 50 years, and save for the lack of a column shifter, it looked like it did the day his dad brought it home. He’s planning to hand it over to his daughter as a wedding gift, so it will move on to the third generation of the family soon, and I’d be willing to wager a fourth generation in another thirty or so years.
I don’t really know what motivated me to write this (admittedly half assed) post. I suppose it had something to do with seeing his reaction, as opposed to the normal routine at the end of a collision repair: exchange of keys and insurance checks, half hearted thank you, and then off to the grocery store or football practice to load our handiwork up with dings and scratches. Essentially, we didn’t just give him his dad’s truck back, we gave him a lifetime of memories back, and they all hit him in the parking lot.