Sunday, June 23, 2024
FEATURES

PICKUP PERSONIFIED – BARRY CORNWALL 1959 FORD PICKUP

I really love listening to car owner’s talk about their automotive exploits with honest passion for the vehicle they are describing. Recalling a particular event or adventure that is as fresh in their mind today as when it took place decades ago.

“I’ve been a bit of a brat with cars,” he admits, “When I was a kid I bought this Indian motorbike with running boards and a hand gear stick for three quid. My mate and I couldn’t get it going, we were about 13 and 14 at the time, so we would push it up this huge hill about half a mile and ride it back down with my mate on the back. We’d chuck it in gear and hear the noise come out the exhaust pipe, but it wouldn’t go. We went for about a mile and then turn around and do it all over again. I ended up selling it. The next day the new owner come riding past on it,” he says with a chuckle.

Whilst living in Reservoir as a teen, one of Barry’s multiple jobs to fund his indulgence was pumping fuel at his local gas station, owned by Henry Hoistead. “It was just two doors up the road and I pumped up the tyres, washed the windows, checked the oil, fuel was just 36 cents a gallon and I also serviced at least one car every Sunday,” he remembers. “Back then I had this Peugeot and had three jobs just to keep working on it. I added three carbies, extractors, floor shift and chrome wheels. All my money went into cars,” he recalls.

Keeping in the automotive trade Barry started his own haulage business, Cornwall Transport, and later Trans-Diff, specialising in differential conversions. Throughout his lengthy career Barry has built, driven and sometimes destroyed a huge range of vehicles including swapping out the Inter diesel for a 392 Hemi in his AB International truck, to drag racing his Kenworth prime mover in between loads at Lakeside Raceway in Queensland while in between loads.

At 40 years young Barry enjoyed a stint behind the wheel of his own sprint car, pitting his alloy Cleveland powered Trans-Diff entry against a foray of Chevy propelled competitors. “The first time I drove it was to check and tune the engine with Paul Rogers at Alexandra Speedway before my first official race. I arrived at Avalon early so I could get in 20 laps on my own before the race, but when I turned up they said they were running late and to just get in it. I put it into gear and they push started it and that was it… you were racing! I started from the back nearly every time just to keep clear of the carnage. My best race was in Warrnambool where I had the USA #1, Aus #1, NSW #1 and the Vic #1. It was 30 laps and 30 cars and I’m starting last as usual. I finished in the same position but kept up with the world’s best. Everyone thought I was going to get lapped… but I didn’t…that was the biggest buzz.”

Unfortunately, or fortunately (I’ll go with the later) his sprint racing came to a thunderous halt when one night he lost steering and collided with the wall at top speed, the force of the impact was so great it caused Barry sight impairment in one eye.   

Tinkering with cars, trucks and bikes for as long as he can remember, this 1959 F100 is Barry’s latest project to date. He purchased it as a  stocker off the late John Taverna who at the time said to Barry “now don’t go overboard with this one.”

Chatting with Barry in his immaculately clean and well-organised workshop it’s easy to see why his F100 turned out so nice. Evidence of Barry’s engineering background surrounds the black beauty executed with the same level of attention to detail and finesse as previous projects. Photographs, signs and memorabilia adorning the walls are glimpses into his past and his long-term addiction for fast cars and thundering trucks.

“When I had my first tipper these were brand new,” he recalls, “I loved the look and the sound of them, and it must have stuck in my brain. I liked the Art Deco style, the shape and that it was a little different to what was already out there. When I started to build it, there weren’t any nice ones that I had seen. I eventually took it to work and started pulling it apart, but when time came to reassemble it many years later (not surprisingly) some bits were missing,” he confesses.

When resurrection commenced, the ’59 was left on the standard chassis where panel beater Dennis Robertson took over. Because he was in high demand, Dennis would come over to Barry’s shop once a week, or once a fortnight stringing out the bodywork over a few years. “I’d relayed what I wanted and helped along the way where I could,” Barry states, “he is real nice man and a true craftsman.”

Apart from a few dings and dents the original body was in pretty good shape. The LHD firewall was sliced down the middle and swapped from side to side with spare parts from a donor cab to keep all the original impressions before Dennis massaged every panel to better then factory spec. As Barry wanted air conditioning without an overheating car, Dennis hand made a shroud out of sheet metal to engulf a Ford 500 core radiator. Along with reshaped inner fenders to clear the new front end he also dissected an original style air cleaner to neatly cover the gas mixer.

Filling that huge engine bay is one of Barry’s preferred FoMoCo mills; a 351 Cleveland fuelled with LPG. The NOS block is one of 15 that Barry purchased whilst on a trip to the USA back in the mid 80s, tucked away for the perfect project. The 2V cylinder heads with 4V valves spent some time on his old sprint car. The majority of internals are standard but new, the extractors were modified by Barry and mated to a mandrel bent exhaust system.

Continually striving for aesthetic perfection Barry concealed all the gas lines inside the chassis rails plumbed to a trio of custom made tanks. To avoid an unsightly mammoth gas tank, twin 75ltr torpedos flank the drive shaft while a third tank of same volume hides out down the back under the tray. “It was always going to be on gas,” says Barry. “I had a truck on gas back in 1967, back then there was only one place in Fitzroy to fill the tank. Now there’s a servo with gas on every corner in Melbourne!”

Backing up the fresh Clevo tuned by (Mick at Renegade Auto & Marine) is an AOD auto with overdrive and a four-speed column shift, along with a 9” diff with 4.11 gears, housing (shortened and sleeved) with full floating hubs and 31 spline axles, puts power to the ground. 

With the body file finish completed and shelved for the moment, the ’59 chassis rails were stripped bare before the rear section was re-contoured and strengthened to make room for the diff at its new ride height. The 9” is suspended by four bars, King springs and coilovers, all kept in check with an adjustable sway bar. Front suspension comprises of a GM wishbone arrangement including 2” dropped spindles, King springs and adjustable coilovers. A complete Holden Crewman (PBR) brake system from discs to pedal assembly was grafted in and is more than ample to halt this pickup at will, while the power steering aids effortless control at the wheel.

As with every action there is a reaction. All modifications performed to drop the pickup closer to terra firma without clearance issues were catered for in the tray before paint prep could even be considered. To accommodate the healthy 16”x12” rear steelies, the inner fenders were sliced and tubbed 3” with an additional dome incorporated into the tray bed for a happy diff. Satisfied with the final clearance adjustments the entire ensemble is hidden from public view by the custom made fibreglass tonneau, tricked out with matching trim by Neal Pepper.

The tasteful cabin is centralised around a Glide bench seat covered in two-tone vinyl accented with red piping (by Adrian at Kool Trim). As per original, the door trims are non-existent and now feature gorgeous body colour highlighted with chrome handles and fasteners. Polished alloy step treads lead occupants inside where they are greeted by the highly detailed dash outfitted with AC, hidden digital sound, reworked original gauges, wiring and much more by the talented Ian Hardy. Sat Nav and reversing monitor are as simple as dropping the driver’s sun visor. The neat rear window venetian blind is one of Barry’s own designs, in fact he can offer custom made venetians for any car with a flat window www.carvenetianblinds.com, a sideline business for this retired gent with plenty more to offer.

Barry reveals that the initial colour choice was never going to be black, but everyone who saw how much work went into the body all agreed that it would be a crime not too. “So I painted it as black as I could get!” he beams.  The contrasting red roof was to emphasise the sweet lines of the original cab style that he fell in love with all those years ago. He also concedes a home truth about the wheels, “I did paint the wheels black, but after some convincing I changed them to red and… wow don’t they look great?”

Barry also credits Whoosh Transport, TCR Carponents, The Pickup Place and Alrin Panels for their parts and services throughout the project.

There is much more to divulge on this stunning pickup than we have pages to print. For us it’s an exemplary example of clever construction, outstanding determination and dedication with a healthy respect for restraint over a long period of time to achieve the initial goal. For Barry it’s simply his vision of a ’59 pickup that performs as good as it looks.

BY DALE HABERFIELD, PHOTOS BY MILLBROOK STUDIO. FULL FEATURE CRUZIN MAGAZINE #159.

It's only fair to share…