The impossible vehicle
February 23, 2006
Okay, okay. I know Ford didn’t build a Ranchero in 1951. But, hey, maybe they should have.
Today I’m doing something I don’t normally do-featuring a car that is no longer with its owner. The reason for the exception is that sometimes I feel we need to remember our past and honor the craftsmen that were a part of it. Vic Borgman is just such a person. Borgman, a Chicago Park resident, was a body man from the early ’40s to late ’60s. He owned Arden Body Shop in Sacramento for more than 20 years.
In 1954 a customer came in with a 1951 Ford 4-door sedan for a repair estimate. The sedan had been hit hard in the rear, and the insurance company totaled it. The wheels in Borgman’s head got to spinning with an idea for a pickup. So he bought the total and started his project.
The build took over a year of evenings and weekends, with Borgman doing all of the work himself. As I describe the “build,” keep in mind that everything was done with an oxygen-acetylene welder and cutting torch, hammers and lead.
The rebuild started by removing the body behind the front doors and straightening the frame. Next, a rear replacement panel for a ’54 Ford pickup was modified to fit and butt and hammer-welded into place. The pickup box from a 1951 Chevrolet was chosen because of its width and then the side panels from a 1951 Ford 2-door sedan were grafted in for the perfect contour and fit. 1954 Ford taillights were installed with the tailgate from the ’51 Chevy, to complete the truck. All seams were hammer-welded and leaded before the black paint was applied. There was not a seam or joint that didn’t look and fit like factory.
The little Ford was powered by a flathead V-8 engine with an automatic transmission. The original front bench seat was retained but reupholstered in pleated black Naugahyde.
Borgman drove and enjoyed his creation for over 20 years, and last saw it in the 1980s in Sacramento. He would love to reunite with his old friend, so if anyone has seen it, let me know, and I’ll try to help him track it down. It’s a good thing to honor and respect those that came before us. Vic is presently retired and enjoys his grape vineyard and making a little wine from time to time.
Last week, my fever-wracked body was not functioning properly and I forgot to identify the little statue that was pictured in the “Dragstalgia” article. That, my friends, is a bona fide “Wally.” I held it, fondled it, and lusted in my heart after it. It was awarded to Jim Hopper in 1994. I would rather have one of those little rascals than an Oscar any day.
And, while I was in the purple haze, I misspelled Hopper’s name about 14 times. I apologize, I really do know the correct spelling of his name.
I’m presently up to my elbows in Goodyear Racing Tires at California Speedway in Fontana. If any of you make it down for race weekend, come by and say hello.