Every time we hear stories about long-haul trucking-stories laced with truths, half-truths, and a liberal amount of fabrication-we're regaled with tales of multi-day adventures. They all involve high speed, long distances, repeated brushes with the law, superhuman endurance, and the cunning nature required to overcome these and other minor obstacles along the way. Well, not this time-there's nothing so mundane going on here. This story is about a man, his truck, and the decades they have been together.
The story starts in 1966 when Todd Doyle's father inherited a cabin and a '50 Ford truck from an old friend. The truck stayed at the cabin and was used for running errands, hauling wood, hunting excursions, and recreational bounces through the woods-in general, any drudge duties that came along. Well, the first time Todd saw it, he was 5 years old, and he was hooked. He had to have it, so he pestered his dad until he finally gave in and promised to give it to him when he was older. Of course, Dad thought Todd would get over it and let him keep the truck at the cabin until it finally breathed its last. Not so-Todd hung in there, and true to his word, his dad turned the truck over to him when he turned 15. Over the next seven years Todd drove the wheels off of it. Sure, there would be several paint jobs, various wheel and tire combos, and a bit of interior work, but for the most part, it was just the pure fun of driving it.
After college, Todd married his high school sweetheart, Suzanne, purchased a home, and started a business. As you can imagine, that didn't leave much time for the truck, so it sat in the back of the garage for the next 17 years. There were other projects that rolled through Todd's life, but when they were finished there was no real satisfaction; his passion was still the truck, and it was getting stronger. By the time he finally acted, he knew every bolt that had to be removed and what it would be replaced with. There were lists of must-haves-it had to have modern steering, modern brakes, and be able to run all day long with the average family sedans without a moment's hesitation. A pretty tall order for a flat motor-oh yeah, did we mention that it had to be a Flathead?
That's where we start the latest incarnation of this project. First on the to-do list was getting the right engine put together. For that, Todd contacted Mark Kirby at Motor City Flathead (MCF) in Dundee, Michigan, to build the ultimate street driver. The original Flathead grew from 239 to 255ci and was filled with 7.5:1 forged pistons and a MCF camshaft and steel rods. The basic package was topped off with a pair of MCF-prepared aluminum heads, a B&M blower, and an Edelbrock 500-cfm carb. Now the old flatty cranks out a strong 250hp and gets 15 mpg while cruising at 75 mph. Of course, with the Tremec five-speed in place, it's only turning 2,100 rpm, which really contributes to the pleasure factor on those long hauls.