In 1992, Mike Novitch, owner of Denver, Colorado's Denver Ford Parts, Ltd., which specializes in recycled Ford car and truck parts, purchased this '57 Ford F-350 wrecker to promote his parts business. But we'll let Mike tell the rest of the story.
"I bought the truck for $3,500 from classic truck broker Larry Grillette. The truck had spent its entire life as a wrecker, and was originally owned by Paducah Motor Company, an old Ford dealership located in Childress, Texas. I thought it was just perfect to promote our Ford parts business, so I contacted noted classic truck restorer Ron Johnson Restorations, located in Bennett, Colorado, and arranged to have Ron restore the truck back to the way it was in 1957."
As far as wreckers go, Novitch's F-350 is textbook '50s with its fully operational Holmes Wrecker 460 Split Boom tow bed and winch, which can be operated from inside the cab by the driver, or outside by hand using a lever. The 2-ton chassis on the old Effie features a 5.88:1-geared Dana-Spicer 70 live rear axle. Up front, the old Ford utilizes the stock Ford I-beam front axle with manual steering riding on the factory leaf springs. Braking on the F-350 is the factory 13 1/2-inch drums (rear) and 12 1/8-inch drums on the front, while wheels and tires consist of six 8x17.5-inch heavy-duty steel wheels rolling on Atlas Super Road Service bias-ply rubber.
Powering the old hooker is the original '57 292-cid Y-block OHV V-8, which was bored over .030 inches. Of course, stock is the byword here, as the old Ford is, after all, a beast of burden. However, that didn't stop Johnson from sprucing things up a bit with a fresh coat of yellow paint and a set of period-correct Ford V-8 insignia valve covers. Heck, the old Ford even has the correct "toilet bowl" Holley four-barrel carburetor and Ford oil bath air cleaner. Backing up the Y-block is a Ford four-speed manual transmission-with a granny low gear, of course.
Ron Johnson also restored the F-350's big-window cab and Holmes Wrecker bed to showroom condition. He painted the truck in PPG red and white acrylic-enamel. That fancy foil lettering is the handiwork of Steve Schultz. Exterior appointments include items like twin chrome-plated spotlights, N.O.S. wrecker running lights, and a combination push bar and grille guard. Heck, Mike's wrecker even has the correct-year Colorado license plate! On the inside, the old Effie features Auto Weave reproduction checker-pattern factory vinyl upholstery. All the factory instrumentation has also been restored, along with a soon-to-be-installed genuine RCA two-way radio.
Completed in a year and a half for approximately $12,000, Mike's classic Effie has won awards at events like the Sabers Car Club-sponsored Tri-State Auto Exhibition and Bandimere Speedway's Phil Long Ford Fest. However, closer to home, the old wrecker is 11-year-old son Mike Jr.'s dream truck.
"It's going to be his truck when he gets older," says Novitch Sr. "He absolutely loves that old thing!"