1968 Ford Pickup hauls childhood memories

Staff reports
Farm Forum

Gary Risse was so young when his father brought home their new three-quarter-ton truck that he has only vague memories of the day: It was May 21, 1968, and his dad bought it for $2,600 at the Hub Ford dealership on Peach Tree Road in Atlanta, Ga.

Ford evidently did not want the truck to be misidentified, so the leading edge of the engine hood bears large chrome letters spelling F O R D. A similar set of letters in white paint is spread across the tailgate.

This truck was — and is — a classic, bare-bones work truck. “It has no frills, ‘three on the tree,’ no air conditioner, and manual everything,” Risse says. Because of the lack of power-assisted steering, Risse observes, “you have to have arms like Popeye to steer the truck.”

His father got exactly what he wanted: basic transportation with no optional extras. The light-blue pickup has a wide, white-painted grille and headlight surround. Both bumpers are also painted white, as are the wheels. The lug bolts on each wheel are protected by what Risse describes as “poverty hub caps.”

Surprisingly, the truck sports two backup lights, probably because they are integrated into the taillight housing and did not cost not extra.

Because a cigarette lighter and an automatic choke were extra-cost items neither one is found on the truck. Risse finds that he often must explain the function of the manual choke to younger drivers.

With the exception of the upholstered bench seat, Risse says the interior of the cab is mostly steel or rubber, making it especially easy to hose it out if it gets dirty. The very wide seat in the cab is equipped with two government-mandated seat belts. At the time, the government also required front and rear side marker lights. Unlikely accessories on the truck are the AM radio and white sidewalls on the 15-inch tires.

Risse recalls some of the most childhood fun that he and his sister had was riding in the 6-foot bed of the truck during brief slow speed trips around their Atlanta neighborhood; he also learned how to drive in the big Ford. Another fond memory for Risse was spending Saturdays with his dad hauling stones for landscaping their home. In order to protect the truck bed, Risse’s father constructed a wooden bed liner.

In addition to receiving careful cosmetic attention over its life, the 4,200-pound truck has also been methodically maintained. The 240-cubic-inch, inline six-cylinder engine regularly received 5-quart oil changes.

According to Risse, the truck never was pressed into towing anything, which undoubtedly boosted the longevity of the clutch and transmission. “It still runs like a top,” Risse reports.

After about 35 years of faithful service, the primer was beginning to show through the thinning paint, and Risse’s father was considering letting his Ford go. That’s when, Risse says, “I refused to let him sell or give it away.”

It was about 10 years ago that the younger Risse assumed ownership of the 1968 truck that had seemingly always been a part of the family. He replaced a lot of the rubber parts and then had it repainted in the original color.

Since the Ford pickup truck had always received excellent care and was garaged most of the time virtually no bodywork was involved.

The odometer on the old Ford has currently recorded 112,000 miles and the pickup shows no signs of aging.

On the contrary, the spruced-up vehicle is now considered a “cool truck.” So cool in fact, Risse says, “My wife, Wendy, has had me teach her how to drive its manual transmission.”

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