One of the best things about the Mothers Chrome Expression Session — held in 2016 over the weekend of August 6–7 — is the diversity of vehicles that enter, year after year. Run by Azhar Bhamji and the Premier Events team, you may expect it to be awash with turbocharged Japanese high-performance vehicles, but Chrome isn’t about that — instead, it’s essentially an open invitation to all Kiwi vehicle enthusiasts to get together and enjoy a good time at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, regardless of what automotive creed they most identify with.
So, in an event where high-performance Japanese muscle isn’t exactly thin on the ground, it was a refreshing surprise to see a matt-black Ford F100 holding its own against vehicles that you’d expect to walk all over it — think Skylines, Evos, WRXs, you know the ones. That may have been, in part, down to the disregard with which the owner thrashed it, but we had to find out more.
The truck is owned by Gavin Cornish, and while it’s technically a 1948 Ford Bonus, it also isn’t. As Gavin explained, he’d wanted an early Ford truck for about 15 years before this one popped up on Trade Me for the right price, at the right time. That was in 2009, and the truck had been deregistered — a factor made slightly more complex by the fact that its original chassis was long gone.
Sitting on a Holden HZ ute chassis, and powered by a 350ci small block Chev and TH350 transmission, Gavin’s three-year journey to get the truck back on the road saw him re-register the car as a scratch-build, as well as swapping out the GM running gear for Blue Oval–branded equipment.
Road manners are hugely improved over what you’d expect from an early Ford commercial vehicle, thanks to the well-sorted Holden chassis, improved with disc brakes at each corner. The small block Chev has binned in favour of a tough 351ci Windsor, while a FMX transmission is now in charge of shifting duties. At the rear, the old Holden 10-bolt Salisbury diff has been usurped by nine inches of Ford’s finest, ensuring two black marks are left on the tarmac every time.
Having been registered as an ‘LVVTA Scratch Built’, it’s registered as a 2012 manufacturing year, which means the 1948-bodied truck isn’t eligible for dirt-cheap classic rego, but there is a bright side — one-year warrants! Very handy considering Gavin does drive the thing, having managed to rack up over 14,000km driving all over the place for the last four years.
Gavin not only drives the truck, but he drives it hard. When he’s not clocking up the road miles, the F100 also gets used as a towing vehicle for his Ford Falcon XP project, as well as a perfect contender for events such as this, where he can both stand on the loud pedal and park it up without much fear of damage. And it’s not just a dirty old hack either — Gavin’s run it down the strip at Meremere, where it’s surprised a few people, considering it looks like a simple 68-year-old truck.
Fancy may not be the word you’d use to describe it, but Gavin’s old Ford sure is cool. In fact, it’s just about perfect, in all its matt-black glory. It’s not often people build something that they can enjoy to the fullest, with a willingness to thrash the shit out of it, and drive it anywhere without fear of stone chips and trolley dings. There’s a lesson we can learn from Gavin’s less-is-more approach …