APRIL 2024: 1947 JAILBAR FORD PICKUP—YES, IT WAS A BARN FIND

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The term ‘barn find’ is thrown around more than a frisbee at a California beach but in most cases it’s a stretch to call something that sat in a heated garage a barn find.

This 1947 Ford pickup definitely fits the description of a barn find, but to be fair—it was found in a shed.

Jerry Sutherland

Ken Marchant is the current caretaker of this classic Ford. He said he was looking for an old project and he found the ‘47 through “a friend of a friend” on a farm. The truck had sat for years, but Ken said, “It wasn’t too bad”. He added he “poured in a little fuel and it (the flathead V-8) fired right up”.

He drove it for a couple of years, then he mapped out a plan. Ken explained how his wife “Came out to see what I was doing, and I had the truck in pieces”. Ken was entering retirement plus the shutdowns had forced people to stay home–so building his dream truck made sense.

Ken piloted the truck in its original form, and he knew he wanted a vehicle that “didn’t drive like you had to keep it from going ditch to ditch”—but he didn’t want to completely change its looks. Ken’s son was drafted into the project, so this was definitely a father-son project.

The first thing Ken’s son recommended was to lower the truck for better handling. They also updated the pickup to a rack and pinion front end so this ’47 Ford handles a thousand times better than it did in factory form. 

Ken also upgraded to a 5-speed manual transmission to offset the farm-grade rear gear ratio on the old truck. He also updated the Ford to a 12-volt electrical system to accommodate other changes he made to the truck. There’s also an extra carb to give the flattie a little more passing power on the road. 

All the gauges were replaced with new state-of-the-art versions to keep a better eye on the old flathead V-8’s vital signs. Ken’s son also encouraged him to add a glove-box hidden sound system to the driving experience.

Ken wasn’t a fan of the standard factory color, so he went with a later Ford automotive shade of green to give the truck a vintage look with an upgraded shade of green. He also added oak to the truck’s bed to give it an upscale look.

Ken’s son designed the leather interior on the truck, and it turned into a work of art. The seats were engineered to give the driver more room because, as Ken explained, “these trucks don’t have a lot of room inside.”   The solution was to add an angle to put the driver further back from the steering wheel.

This truck was supposed to be an upgraded road machine project–not a street monster and Ken believes he hit the mark. He calls it a “Highway 2A” truck because he likes to run it on the secondary roads at around 60 miles per hour.  

Ken isn’t sure where his truck fits because at a World of Wheels show they thought it fell between stock and resto-mod, but they put it in the resto-mod category. It won first place so that proved how well Ken and his son built the Ford.

Ken is so happy with his Jailbar Ford (nickname for the toothy grill Ford trucks), he used it for his license plate—that’s a committed owner.                

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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