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WORKING CLASS VAN – GRAEME MUDFORD 1946 FORD DELIVERY

It’s funny how some guys have projects that seem to take for ever to get done, and more often than not never done at all! Then there are the gifted guys who seem to have a magic wand, and whenever they wave it around things just happen almost as easy as a click of the fingers. We all know at least one of these magicians; we love to hate them but deep down are as envious as hell. 

Take the owner of this ’46 Ford for example. Graeme found himself in between projects of a ’46 Mercury coupe waiting for paint and a ’48 Ford four door sedan with brake issues and decided to challenge himself with this delivery, knocking it out in 10 weeks flat, from dock to the blacktop! 

Sounds like a bit of hocus pocus right? Well not for this seasoned rodder as this is nothing new in his world of resurrecting old Fords. Graeme has been at this caper since the 50s and his rap sheet of early iron span the range of Henry’s finest hits, including 1932, ’35, ‘40, ’42, ’46 and ‘48 Fords. “I’m just working my way up the ladder,” he chuffs.

But his desire to own a fat sedan delivery (or panel van to us Aussies) was fulfilled when he purchased this ’46 from Harry Wright in Castlemaine about three years ago. “I’ve had every body style produced in ’46, including two convertibles and a woody,” Graeme confesses “but never a delivery!”  The old Ford was languishing in a restorers shed for over 20 years in Fresno, USA and surfaced only after its former custodian passed on before he had a chance to restore it. As soon it popped out into Australian daylight Graeme was mission bound to complete the engineless delivery and revelled in the challenge that ensued. 

By Graeme’s own admission the body was in very good shape due to it always being undercover and after a trip to the sandblasters only needed about four hours of panel work to satisfy his educated eye. Graeme’s jack-of-all-trades approach is consistent with his previous builds and he has developed a vast range of skills and tools since his night school shop classes many years ago. Graeme tackled almost the entire build including the big ticket items of chassis and paint, all within the 10 week time frame. I did ask if he slept much, to which he answered “Enough,” with a wry smile. “I’m retired and my wife won’t let me work so I have to do something with my hands!”

Utilising the accompanying stock chassis Graeme boxed the frame attaching WB Holden front suspension and diff from an EB Falcon taking care of the steering and brake issues in the process. As he enjoys long distance rod runs in a reliable car a gas fed 302 Windsor fills the engine bay while a Mustang T5 box takes care of the gear selection. Albury Speed & Performance were contacted to bend up the stainless extractors and exhaust. 

With the body back in paintable shape Graeme mixed up a colour that reflected the old girls original palate and laid down a very tidy exterior in old school acrylic. While the paint dried he attacked the interior dissecting the original LHD dash in the process. He now enjoys many miles on the right side of the road and mentions that this is the fourth dash he has converted. 

Many visits to Fords motherland and many more swap meets has netted Graeme a fair stockpile of ’46-’48 spares, which he liberated at will to complete the job at hand. A pair of ’46 Ford business coupe seats now reside in the cab that have been recovered by Eddie Hay of Albury. Eddie was given the enormous job to cover the vast commercial interior which is completed in serviceable colour tones of grey and marron.  With the interior perfected for a long distance hauler Graeme stitched up a fresh wiring loom adding H4 halogens up front, re-juiced stock taillights and gauges from a ’75 Ford LTD. Tinted new glass keep the elements at bay on the open road and a set of American Racing wheels have racked up nearly 30,000 kilometres since its debut just three years ago. With that amount of mileage and the smile on his dial it’s easy to see that this is truly a working class van.

BY DALE HABERFIELD, PHOTOS MILLBROOK STUDIO, FULL FEATURE CRUZIN #163.
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