The car hobby is similar to house buying because in many cases the new owner has a new vision for his property–so modifications both major and minor, are made to make the car or house more personal.

This classic 1953 Ford Deluxe panel van is the perfect case in point.

Jerry Sutherland

Warren Baker is a self-described “unique vehicle kind of guy”, so this rare old Ford truck fit like a glove. He explained how it “just came along” because he wasn’t in official search mode when the old truck ended up on his radar. This was an easy sell because Warren is a huge fan of the ’53-’56 Ford trucks, so this rare Ford panel called his name.  

The panel van was customized in the early 90s, so a previous owner planted a ’65 Thunderbird 390 V-8 under the hood. This ’53 Ford has seen a lot of miles, so there are stickers on the interior roof from many of its destinations over the last 30 years.

There’s a police van theme to this truck so it has an interior and exterior siren plus it’s painted in black and white. There are graphics in the back window with kids behind bars, so this truck is very visual. Warren said kids love this truck.    

The seats are from a ’65 Fairlane and the steering column came out of ’79 Ford truck. The rear end is also from a ’65 Fairlane, and the front end is a twin I-beam setup from a 70s Ford pickup. The all-Ford build speaks to the commitment of the builder to the Blue Oval brand.

Warren is a big fan of the truck in its present form, but he has some ideas to give it a more personal touch. He’s already modified the sign on the door because it used to be a star, but Warren liked the Route 66 look better. He had a friend do some extra detailing on the distressed-look door graphic to give it more definition and the results are spectacular.  

The rear window graphics are another thing Warren wants to change. He’s going to change them to pictures of Warren and his son to add another personal touch to his ’53 Ford.

Warren also wants to address a few minor things like the carb because it needs a tweak to get 100% out of the Ford big block. Warren said he has list of little things to fix, but it’s definitely roadworthy in its present form. For example, Warren has to get both old-school sirens working because they were burned out after too many car shows.

He’s daily-driven the ’53 Ford from Day 1 so Warren has a definite sense of how it handles with the upgraded front end. Warren described it as “very bump and steer truck-like” but he’s not intimidated because this early 50s era panel truck can easily run at highway speeds thanks to the T-bird big block under the hood. 

Warren wants to use this ’53 Ford panel as a camping vehicle, so he’s happy about the existing trailer setup. That’s why he’s also casually looking for a vintage trailer to haul behind the truck.

He hasn’t owned the truck for very long, but Warren is already used to how much attention it gets. It will acquire more of his personal touches over the next few years.

That Route 66 door decal might define a future destination point.                    

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.