Old vehicles are a bit like stray puppies. They tend to adopt their owners, rather than the other way around. As evidence, Lori Bentley-Law can point at the 1948 Ford F1 pickup in her garage—the subject of our latest Why I Drive video.
When Bentley-Law first saw the truck, it was sitting at a swap meet in Pomona, California, wearing a sign reading “For Sale or For Parts.” A novelist, Bentley-Law was working on a book at the time that featured just such a truck, so she snapped a few pictures for reference and then continued on her way. She certainly wasn’t shopping for a pickup; she had her heart set on a Ford Thunderbird.
Somehow, though, she couldn’t get the old green heap out of her mind. Bentley-Law is attracted to old objects—cars, motorcycles, buildings, you name it—for the accumulation of stories that they represent. People have lived with these things, touched them, had experiences in them. This old, haggard Ford pickup clearly embodied this idea. It had been lived with, a lot, and very hard, for many years.
And so, some weeks later, Bentley-Law went back into her photos and, sure enough, one of them showed the “For Sale” sign—and the owner’s phone number. Soon thereafter, the pickup arrived at her house on a flatbed.
Although far from an experienced mechanic, Bentley-Law is unintimidated by a new challenge and thus dove into the truck’s restoration. Even for an experienced restoration specialist (who, to be fair, probably would have begun by sending this truck to the crusher) this F1 would have been a challenge. For Bentley-Law, it tested every ounce of her perseverance and patience.
The paint was mostly just a thin veneer hiding the mountains of Bondo that filled out the badly-beaten body. The original flathead V-8 engine had long ago been swapped out in favor of a later 1950s motor. Nothing on the truck really worked. The entire package was pretty terrible. Gradually, though, Lori chipped away at the project and her skills came along for the ride. In the process of stripping the paint, Bondo, and Bentley-Law how-to-do bodywork, she discovered that she loved the look of the truck in its bare metal form. Thus she elected to put a clear coat atop the metal and leave it in the form you see today.
The Ford got its flathead V-8 back, too, courtesy of Bentley-Law’s husband, Brian, who surprised her with the period-correct engine for Christmas.
The truck now splits time between Yucca Valley, California, and Winslow, Arizona, where on any given day it may see duty hauling a clawfoot bathtub, motorcycle parts, or just winding through the Joshua Trees as Bentley-Law seeks to knock down the latest bout of writer’s block. Every drive is a chance to add her own memories to this truck’s legacy.