You may not remember your high school social science teacher, or your high school's fight song, or even your first kiss, but one thing everyone remembers is their first car.
There's probably a smile on your face as you think back on the great times you had with that car and you wish, at least sometimes, you never got rid of it.
You may have regrets, but not Kathi Curry. This 1955 Ford F-100 pickup was her first vehicle, and she never plans to sell it.
"I was about 11 years old when my dad bought it new in Auburn. It was his only vehicle. I learned to drive it on the back roads of Auburn when I was 15 ½ and got my learner's permit. It's a four-speed stick shift on the floor with a granny gear which I think I have only used once," she said.
Curry admits to many "jack rabbit" starts that did try the nerves of her otherwise patient dad.
"In 1967, during my last semester at Chico State," she said, "I had an internship 21 miles away in Paradise and my dad gave me the truck for the semester. He walked to work the swing shift the entire semester; he was that kind of dad." Curry's dad got his truck back after graduation, but unfortunately, he died two years later. Curry's mom then gave her the truck.
The old Ford pickup was Curry's sole transportation for 19 years until 1988 when she bought a new car. "After that I didn't drive the truck too much and it sort of languished in the driveway for a long time. In 1999, a young man came along with a pretty tricked out '56 Ford his dad had restored and said his dad may be willing to restore my truck. I had gotten a restoration price in Walnut Creek which was way more than I was willing to pay. Long story short is the father restored the vehicle in Clovis, near Fresno, but before this all, his restorations were of the customized and exotic type."
An agreed price was reached which remains confidential, and the total, greater than the agreed price, has not been computed by the owner. However I'm pretty sure it was considerably higher than the $1,460 the truck cost when new.
Curry trailered the old Ford to Casey's Rod Barn in Clovis and Casey worked on his first stock restoration for five months.
During the five months, Casey would call suggesting different modifications but Curry insisted the truck was to be stock, just like when her dad bought it.
"What part of stock don't you get?" she would ask. But she did cave in on two items: a chrome bumper in back replaced a massive aftermarket painted steel Barden bumper. The second item was the interior: It was a not too comfortable basic vinyl seat and a rubber floor mat, so Curry upgraded to a comfortable pleated gray suede-like cloth seat and a carpeted floor. New glass was also installed.
The paint color had to be the factory original, Meadow Green. The 6 ½ foot bed of the truck has a beautifully finished honey-colored eight board oak floor, with the original metal slide strapping separating the boards.
The luxury list on this step-side pickup is pretty short as there is no power anything.
"My air conditioning is the vent that opens from under the dashboard," she joked. "It does have a heater, a cigarette lighter but no radio." The spare tire is mounted in the left rear fender.
The iconic Ford Blue Oval is nowhere to be been seen on this truck. In 1950, after Henry Ford had died, management apparently thought the traditional Ford Oval signature emblem was out of date. They replaced it with Coat of Arms emblems, one for cars and one for trucks. These emblems were used until the mid-1960s.
Ford manufactured 124,842 pickups in 1955 for 30 percent of the market. The 1955 Ford pickup was a face-lift of the all-new 1953 model. It was the second major styling change since the end of World War II with the hood and fenders flowing together and a large curved windshield. The front axle was moved back creating a 110-inch wheelbase which was four inches shorter than the competitive Chevrolet, to give the Ford a turning radius advantage.
By 1955 Ford had built 20 million V8 engines, but Curry's truck doesn't have one of them.
Curry's Ford is powered by the original I-6, overhead valve engine producing 115 HP and has only been driven 81,395 miles. But this will soon change. Now that the truck is completely restored, and can be garaged at Curry's Pleasant Hill home, she has vowed to drive it twice a week — once to work and on the weekend to Lunardi's for groceries, each about a 12-mile round trip.
Have an interesting vehicle? Contact David Krumboltz at MOBopoly@yahoo.com