Driven: 1960 USAF Ford F-250 Crew Cab - 3rd Generation Veteran
Finding an old truck in Texas is as easy as standing by the side of the road and waiting for a few minutes. Some people keep their truck for as long as it will move, so finding a nice classic in good condition is a bit of a challenge. Dr. Terry Williams, owner of the largest collection of Bantam Reconnaissance Vehicles – the grand daddy of the Willys jeep - and tribe leader of Bantam Blitz Buggies (BBB), has an extensive collection of classic cars and happens to have a beautiful and rather rare third generation Ford F-Series.
Arriving at Dr. Williams’ private museum south of Houston, I can already spot the F-250 Crew Cab in the driveway, polished to perfection and reflecting the bright Texas sunlight with its Air Force blue uniform. An interesting detail about this truck, is the fact that Ford did not start building F-250 Crew Cabs until 1967, yet this example is from 1960. An exact number is hard to find, but Orrville Metal Specialties Co. from Orrville, Ohio, built about two thousand of these trucks with custom-made cabins for the armed forces, usually the Air Force.
Visiting the Pate Swap Meet at the Texas Motor Speed Way about fifteen years ago, Dr. Williams found this truck. ‘I saw it for sale on a lot from a guy who was selling Mustang parts. There were some people who showed an interest in it, but it turned out it wasn’t sold during the meeting. A few weeks later I made a phone call and managed to get it off his hands for only 1,700 dollars’, explains Williams with a smile as we walk around his truck. ‘It was banged up a little and painted white, but the body was solid with only a little surface rust in and around the wheel wells.’
With his own workshop and experienced mechanics assisting Williams with the restoration of his extensive Bantam BRC collection, stripping the F-250 for a complete rebuild was the obvious thing to do. ‘This truck had a Flareside bed and we sourced a replacement bed from a donor truck, which turned out to be identical. Some of these trucks received Styleside beds, like my other 1960 Crew Cab that still needs to be restored. A look inside the bed reveals a hand-made wooden floor liner, adding to the vintage look of this ex Air Force Ford.
After taking most of the pictures, Williams hands me the keys and we take his veteran for a drive. The 223 cubic inch (3.7 liter) straight six- offers plenty of power, but due to the tall gearing of the manual 3-speed it needs a little motivation to get everything rolling from a stand-still. The steering feel is typical for old trucks, so the best way do drive is to just choose a general direction and try to guide the truck there as close as possible. ‘There is quite a bit of play on the steering now, but that can be fixed.’ Other than that, this 1960 Crew Cab feels solid and has that classic truck ambiance; it is made out of good old-fashioned steel and built to last.
The interior is done in-house as well, with only one minor addition that is not factory-original. Under the blue metal dashboard is a cluster of three gauges, showing Volts, water temperature and oil pressure. ‘We did not want to make any holes in the dashboard or otherwise change the originality of the interior, so we chose to do it this way. We can always take it out again without leaving any traces, but until then we can monitor the engine to keep it healthy.’
With the gear lever on the steering column, having a second lever on the floor might be confusing to those who only drive modern trucks with automatic transmissions, but back in the days these levers were used to engage four-wheel drive. An option that not all these USAF trucks had, as turns out later on when we take a look at Williams’ other example.
With modern trucks becoming more and more comfortable and even reaching the level of luxury items, driving a bare-bone workhorse like this is an incredible pleasure. Everything on and in it is there to get the job done, and what’s not on it will not be missed. When we make one more quick loop through Williams’ Bantam museum we agree to return quickly to make more reviews of even older military vehicles with even more historic significance.
Engine: 223 CI (3.7 liter) Mileage Maker I6
Valvetrain: OHV 12V
Power: 137 hp (102 kW)
Layout: Front-engine, selectable 4x4
Gearbox: Manual 3-speed + transfer case
© Words and Images Natan Tazelaar