Monday, March 13, 2017

Forgotten with a capital N

I was strolling through Red Hook recently when this beast filled up my vision. With those black eyes and looming presence it seemed to be asking for my lunch money!
This is a 1963-1965 Ford N500 Custom Cab truck wearing remnants of Rangoon red (the color continues in the cab so I'm assuming it is original). The N-Series was introduced in '63 and continued through '69. When you consider that the Ford F-Series trucks have been produced continuously since 1948 this is a forgotten footnote in FoMoCo history. *FordMotorComany by the way.
The center section of the hood is fixed on this model. Those rounded sides of the hood open up in bat wing fashion for repairs and service. The grill guard on this beast means this thing could basically crush an entire village without damaging a headlight.
Look how stout and stubby this bulldog is. People wrongly call this a COE or Cab Over Engine model but in reality it's more of a Cab Forward or Snub Nose truck. The cab is raised up and somewhat forward so that the rear of the drivetrain and transmission fits below the interior floor. This allows for more of the truck to be taken up by the cargo bed or box and makes for a tighter turning radius. Maneuvering one of these through city streets is easier than a traditional long hood truck.
We know this is '63-'65 as the cab roof was raised for the later years.
Obviously this bed is a modern replacement but the rest has so many cool design features of the 1960s. Just look at the style line that goes across the door to the front before curling under and fading above the front wheel. This is very similar to the tiny Ford Falcon and Ranchero of the same era.
From this angle you can see that the cab itself is actually the same as the F-Series but it's essentially up on a raised platform and everything from the windshield forward is different.
The 500 was rated as medium duty even though it was good for 20,000lbs hauling weight. The 600, 800, and up through 1,000 were for much larger jobs. Engines were not as mighty as you might imagine with the 223 and 230 6 cylinder engines standard, and the 300 Big Six and 330 V8 optional.
This example boasts the Custom Cab option which basically trims it out with niceties like chrome trim, a radio, and a passenger armrest. Don't take anything for granted!
Here we see the well worn paint of a steering wheel that has worked hard. That legit filth in the wheel center is as real as it gets. On the gearshift you can see a little red knob attached. This activates a splitter that basically doubles the amount of gears, akin to a high or low setting. A 4 speed was standard but 5 speeds with or without overdrive were optional.
The rear fender looks old but this bed is a bastardization! To me it looks like a GMC or Chevy fleetside pickup replacement unit. I suppose it makes it functional but to me it looks pretty ridiculous.
This is a dually so it could have had any number of beds from the factory.
The wheels and tires are as legit as it gets. It's just this bed that stinks. Can you tell how much I hate the bed? BOOOOOOO!
The smaller light on the top has the inadequate look of an original. This large chrome piece seems to be mounted on an angle as the hood is leaning at about 4 o'clock.
That's where we'll leave this totally unexpected classic beast. This is no rhyme or reason why this 52+ year old commercial truck survived while almost all of its siblings are long gone. When trying to research this truck I was shocked at how utterly forgotten the N-Series is. Even classic truck collectors and restorers were posting questions as to what they looked like when they encountered reference to them in old literature. According to a passerby this is parked in front of a warehouse that stores movie cars so there's a reason it was roosting in Red Hook. I'll keep my eyes peeled while watching period piece movies and tv shows to see if I can spot this rig in a cameo.

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