I’m now the proud owner of a beautiful 1961 Ford P-400 Parcel Delivery Van. These beasts were known as “bread trucks,” because so many were used by bakeries. Today they’re known as “widowmakers” because they’re, well, dangerous to drive.
I plan to convert mine into a mobile home office, branded for my mobile software development business. That way it qualifies as a tax deduction under marketing expenses. It’ll mostly sit at home under shore power with an occasional client visit, coding session at the beach, or vintage car show.
The van was owned by the House of Bread in Tigard, Oregon. Quite by accident, I got word that they were going out of business so I inquired about their parking-lot ornament. Two sleepless nights and a harrowing test drive later, I traded a cool $4,444 for the title.
The 56-year-old body and Pantone 201 “maroon” paint are in great shape as you can see. The engine, however, needs to be rebuilt or replaced because it clanks like hell. It’s the original Ford 223 Six, mated to the 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic transmission. This transmission was an original Ford upgrade, and bonus — it was recently rebuilt. The odometer shows ~42K, which means 142K or possibly 242K. If the latter, that would be farther than the moon.
I’m thinking about having a bigger Ford engine (their old 292 V-8) dropped in, and the front-end swapped out for struts. Hopefully all for less than $7K. But I don’t know whether that would require a transmission change as well.
The cabin (which I’ll call the cockpit) needs a lot of work. It was basically painted by a chimp with a spray can. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves: Painters who are too lazy to mask or remove hardware that shouldn’t be painted. The cargo area, however, is potentially a blank canvas totaling 72 square feet (or 438 cubic feet). It has some broken shelves and a giant wooden sled that pulls out on ball bearings to service the local Farmers Markets.
While I built hundreds of models as a kid, I’ve never restored or customized a real vehicle. But what can possibly go wrong, right? I’ll update this as the project progresses, so stay tuned!