About the time I was finishing the Wagonaire in June 1998, my next-door neighbor (who owns a 1964 Avanti, a '40 Ford woodie, etc.) came by to tell me of the availability of an old M-5 pickup that he once owned. He had bought it in Florida in the early 1980's and towed it back to the Boston area. A few years ago, he sold it to a local guy who had plans for restoration but now had other projects. My wife said she knew, as my neighbor and I drove off, that we would come back with a truck. In fact, the pickup had to be delivered on a flatbed truck. It had sat for the last few years and rusted. The wheels didn't turn or steer. The clutch was frozen up. Though the paint had been stripped in the 1980's and a coat of primer applied, years of rain had rusted through all of the surfaces. I thought (fool!) that a little TLC and a good sanding might make a relatively easy project. It was rough enough that I couldn't screw things up too badly.
I bought a new battery, drained the old gummy gas, and got the engine running. Smoke came out the tailpipe. It didn't take long, however, to realize that the truck was a candidate for ground-up restoration. I will NEVER get my money or compensation for my time and spilled blood out of this truck! Its OK, though, it's an adventure. I spent the next four months completely disassembling the truck. Today, it is only a steel ladder of a frame and a huge mountain of sheet-metal parts. The engine is off at the local shop for a complete overhaul. I built a big sandblasting cabinet to re-process all of the fenders, other sheet metal, and hundreds of miscellaneous parts. I have been working my Studebaker contacts and the parts swap meets at Reedsville and York, PA to find all the small pieces I need. Though the fenders and cab have a little surface rust, they are basically good enough to restore. The running boards may take a lot more work, as you can see. The pickup box is about worthless. Maybe I can get a good one, or build a new one using parts from Mack Products in Missouri. They have tailgates, headboards, and side panels. The box, as well as doors, were made by Budd. There are a number of box parts shared with Dodge trucks from the late 30's, and perhaps others. I am planning to do the bed in wood and stainless strips, since there is little point in trying to reproduce a steel bed that will just rust anyway. The interior was shot, so it will be all new.
Below is a picture of how I want my truck to look when it is finished. This truck belongs to Buzz Beckman of Wisconsin. I "borrowed" the picture from the May/June 1998 issue of 'This Old Truck'. Buzz did an absolutely first-rate restoration on his truck so that it looks like new. I hope that I might even do half as well. I like the Forest Green color, though my truck was originally grey. Strange as it sounds, Studebaker had bright red and yellow as available colors when the trucks were introduced in November, 1940.
Here is Buzz Beckman's restored M5 at the Studebaker National Museum.