Here in Classic Trucks, we don't usually stray off the pavement and into four-wheel-drive territory, but every once in a while there's a truck with a story that needs to be told, and Connie Moore's unrestored '40 Ford has something to say.
In May 1940, A.G. Ficken, the postmaster of Bison, Kansas, went into his local Ford dealer to buy a new 1/2-ton truck to use on his rural mail route in the wintertime. From here it appears Mr. Ficken dealt with the Kaiser Motor Co. in Otis, Kansas, and the All-Wheel-Drive Company in Davenport, Iowa, to have his truck shipped to Marmon-Herrington in Indianapolis, Indiana, for what would ultimately be a rare light-duty four-wheel-drive conversion. See, Marmon-Herrington converted plenty of trucks back then, but most were 1-ton and bigger that were destined for hard labor. This would not be the case for the '40, as Mr. Ficken only needed the 4x4 to deliver the mail over snow-covered roads in the winter months and would leave the truck parked inside the remainder of the year.
Sometime in the '60s, Mr. Ficken passed away, and in '70 his second cousin Everett Edwards convinced the widowed Mrs. Ficken to sell the old Ford to him, which only had 23,000 miles on the odometer at this point. But that didn't matter too much to Everett, since he was just going to use it on his farm for some occasional chores. Toward the end of the decade, the speedometer quit working, and whether it was just a cable that needed to be replaced or the gauge itself, Everett didn't want to bother with the almost 40-year-old truck, so he parked it in his hay barn.
Somewhere in the early '80s, a man by the name of Fred Landis bought the '40 and hauled it from the barn, only to wind up taking it to the Pate swapmeet in Fort Worth, Texas, in '86, where Connie Moore saw it and knew he had to bring the unmolested old truck back with him to his ranch in Nowata, Oklahoma.
Connie knows a treasure when he sees one, and today the '40 still wears the original black paint it received on the assembly line, except for the front fenders, which were touched up or repainted at Marmon-Herrington after they radiused the wheel openings for more tire clearance. Under the modified front fenders is a 4.44:1 Ford banjo rear axle Marmon-Herrington made to operate in open-drive fashion as well as converting so steering was possible. The normal transverse spring that would have mounted an I-beam axle was ditched in favor of a parallel leaf spring setup to hold the front drive axle, which also required the front portion of the frame to be reinforced. In the rear is another 4.44:1 banjo-type axle that remained closed-drive but would hold an extra transverse leaf pack.
Under the hood is another Marmon-Herrington upgrade. They swapped the stock Ford 221ci Flathead V-8 and replaced it with a 100-horse 99A Mercury V-8 that measured 239ci. On the Merc motor they also mounted a six-blade fan along with a matching fan shroud. The more potent flat motor is hooked to a '40 Ford four-speed truck trans fitted with a heavy-duty 11-inch clutch. All this churns through the predecessor to what would soon become the transfer case, called a compensator, which seems to be a fairly complex unit for its time. The compensator would sense extra strain on the driveline and engage the front axle-the analog version of what many vehicles use today-and to disengage four-wheel-drive you would simply come to a stop
Save for the "blacksmith" rear bumper installed in '51 and the Marmon-Herrington conversion, the '40 is unchanged and unrestored from Ford's intentions. Inside the cab it looks to be straight out of a time capsule and even houses the optional gas heater that kept Mr. Ficken warm while delivering the mail, and the original 6.50-16 spare tire is still mounted to the bedside. Connie even has the original letter from The All-Wheel-Drive Company telling all parties the details of the sale and letting them know Marmon-Herrington would wire them when the truck was finished and send a check for $785.97, which was even 15 percent off the regular price.
We haven't been able to find out much on prewar 1/2-ton Marmon-Harrington trucks, except for the fact that they are more scarce than hen's teeth, and to find another in this preserved condition would be next to impossible. But that doesn't stop Connie from taking his grandkids out fishing in it during the summer-nice catch!
|Facts & Figures|
| Frame:|| stock|
| Modifications:|| reinforcement plates installed for front springs|
| Rearend / Ratio:|| stock / 4.44:1 closed-drive|
| Frontend / Ratio:|| modified rear / 4.44:1 open-drive|
| Rear suspension:|| transverse leaf w/helper spring pack|
| Rear brakes:|| stock hydraulic drum|
|Front suspension:|| parallel leaf|
|Front brakes:|| stock hydraulic drum|
|Steering box:|| stock|
|Wheels:|| stock 16x4 steel|
|Tires:|| Firestone 6.50-16|
|Gas tank:|| stock|
|Shocks:|| stock lever|
|Engine:|| '40 Mercury 99A 239ci V-8|
|Manifold / Induction:|| stock / Holley 94 2bbl|
|Headers:|| stock manifolds|
|Exhaust / Mufflers:|| stock|
|Transmission:|| '40 Ford truck 4-speed|
|Modifications:|| 11" clutch|
|Transfer case:|| early compensator unit|
|Shifter:|| stock, floor|
|Style:|| 1/2-ton pickup|
|Fenders front / rear:|| stock, radiused / stock|
|Bed wood:|| stock, sandwiched by steel|
|Bodywork and paint by:|| Ford / Marmon-Herrington|
|Paint type / Color:|| Ditzler / black|
|Headlights / Taillights:|| stock|
|Outside mirrors:|| stock|
|Bumpers front / rear:|| stock / Blacksmith|
|Air conditioning:|| none|
|Steering wheel:|| stock|
|Steering column:|| stock|
|Upholstery by:|| Ford|
|Material / Color:|| Naugahyde / black|