During the Great Depression, young Dale Webb’s father eventually found work in Maricopa, Calif. Once gainfully employed, Webb purchased a slightly used 1932 Model B Ford closed cab pickup truck. It had been driven only 1,500 miles.
“I really don’t remember the day Dad first drove `Lizzie’ home,” Dale Webb says, “but then it was 1935 and I was only two years old.”
“I got to know Lizzie pretty well over the next few years when riding with Dad — sometimes sitting on his lap and allowed to `drive,'” Webb recalls.
When new, the 1932 Ford had a base price of $435 and was painted a forest green with black fenders. Under the hood is a 50-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Whenever it balked Webb remembers helping his father perform some bailing wire therapy.
By the time Webb was 12 years old he had wheedled driving privileges from his father. After mastering the art of double-clutching when down shifting, the young Webb was soon exploring the back roads around Maricopa. He then put the little truck to work, earning 50 cents a load for hauling yard debris to the town dump.
When Webb graduated on to other vehicles his father reclaimed the truck. Over the years the durable engine was rebuilt twice. “At one time Dad painted it yellow,” Webb says. That included everything but the tires.
After 42 years of faithful service, the Ford with 195,000 miles on the odometer, was retired. In 1977, Webb’s father parked it in his back yard where Webb says, “It provided a wonderful home for a whole lot of spiders, field mice and several other forms of wildlife.”
Years later, Webb wanted the truck so he could restore it, but there were a few hurdles to clear. First he and his sister, Anita, decided on a fair value for the truck and Webb bought her half. Next, Webb convinced his brother-in-law to store the pickup until Webb was able to build a shop where the restoration was to occur.
Finally, the building was completed in 2002. The 70-year-old Lizzie could now be rescued. Webb evicted all the varmint squatters in the truck, along with all the accumulated dust, dirt and debris before hauling the bedraggled family heirloom to his Oakhurst, Calif., home.
The frame-off restoration began by totally disassembling Lizzie. In the next three years the engine and three-speed transmission were rebuilt. Webb reports that when he opened the engine he found sludge instead of oil. The radiator was recored and a set of five aftermarket wire wheels was located, which have been painted an ivory color.
Replacement hubcaps have replaced the battered originals. Each one has the “FORD” script inside the oval, which indicates a four-cylinder engine is under the hood.
A rear bumper has never been on the truck. Because of that omission both rear fenders had multiple battle scars. After Webb fixed the rear fenders they were painted black to match the front fenders and the connecting running boards. Webb then installed rubber running board covers.
The pickup bed had never been mistreated so it wasn’t difficult to return it to original form. Webb painted on a bed liner to afford a modicum of protection.
The 5-foot, 9-inch high cab was returned to factory-fresh condition and Webb selected a color offered by Ford in 1932 — royal blue.
When the truck was new it had a painted front bumper. Because the grille is body-color painted Webb thought a chrome-plated bumper would add a bit of sparkle to the front.
Since there is still no rear bumper, Webb says, “I’m pretty careful where I park it.”
The inside of the cozy 44-inch-wide cab remains as spartan as it was in 1932. The inside of the doors are painted royal blue with the ceiling painted gray. The bench seat is upholstered in gray vinyl. The black dashboard houses the original 80-mph speedometer and basic instruments. “It will go 50 to 55 with straining,” Webb says.
On the outside, above the flat, one-piece, windshield is a small sun visor. That windshield, hinged at the top, can be pushed out at the bottom to admit fresh air.
Since the restoration was completed Webb has driven his Ford a little over 3,000 miles, putting the total at about 202,000 miles. “I try to drive it at least once a week,” Webb says of the pickup that has been in the family for 73 years.
“I’m tickled to death at the way it came out,” Webb says. — Vern Parker
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2008