Lasting Standard – Harve Evans Has Been Cruising This 1940 Ford Pickup for 48 Years
It’s not unusual for a hot rodder to seek out a car or truck like the one they had (or wanted) in high school. It’s much less common to be like Harve Evans, who still owns his first vehicle – this 1940 Ford pickup.
Harve was 16 when he shelled out $500 for the pickup back in 1973. If you’re old enough to remember that time, you know that was a lot of money for a 33-year-old truck. “We were buying stuff for $100, $150,” Harve says of the era. “I remember buying beat-up ’67 Camaros that were way under $500.”
It was Harve’s father who helped convince him to spend his hard-earned paper route money on an old Ford pickup. “It seemed like way too much money to me,” Harve says. “I think my father really had to talk fast and loud for me to see what it was. He was a big fan of the ’40 Fords. He had the vision and knew it was an iconic body style and knew it was worth it. I have to give him credit for that.”
The previous owners had used the ’40 as a fishing truck in western Nebraska. Harve recalls it being clean and well-maintained for its age. “It was a decent driving truck,” he says. “The first thing I did was take the intake off and put three deuces on the Flathead.” Hopped up with a few more vintage speed parts, the old Ford became a faithful daily high school driver.
Like most any red-blooded teenage rodder, Harve was continually updating the Ford. He eventually installed a 289c.i. small-block Ford V8, using a JC Whitney adapter to mate it to a floor-shift ’39 Ford transmission. He rebuilt another 289 while he was still in high school with intentions of eventually swapping it in.
One of the truck’s early defining moments came when Harve was taking bodywork night classes at the local vocational school and had to bring in a project. “Everybody brought in a fender or a door or something like that,” Harve says. He brought in the truck cab.
“The instructor asked me, ‘what do you want to do with that?’” Harve recalls.
“I want to chop it!” Harve responded.
“Can’t you start with something a little easier?” the instructor replied.
Harve persisted, chopping the top almost 4-inches using primitive cutting tools and a gas torch to weld it back up. “And man, that thing was warped,” Harve laughs. But it definitely had the right profile.
Harve remembers driving the newly chopped pickup to the 1975 NSRA Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee. It was treated to a few more mods during the ’70s, including a then-fashionable sunroof. “I thought that seemed like a pretty good idea at the time,” Harve says. “Probably wasn’t the smartest move.”
The truck sat for years when Harve went to college. He worked on it sporadically during the following decades and occasionally got it roadworthy, but Harve admits the ’40 was “kind of cobbed up” by the end of the ’90s. Like many enthusiasts, Harve had a habit of buying and selling cars and taking on a few too many projects, so the ’40 didn’t receive the sustained attention it needed for a thorough rebuild. Fortunately, it never got sold, either.
In the early 2000s, Harve hooked up with Heinzman Street Rods in Phillips, Nebraska, with the intent of doing the ’40 right. They stripped the truck down to its essentials, got the cab straight and square, fixed the top (which included filling in the sunroof), and got the chassis in shape with a Heidts IFS, four-bar rear suspension, 9-inch rearend, and coil-over shocks.
Things were heading in the right direction, but the project was still subject to delays when Harve would shift his budget or attention to other projects. In 2007, Harve got married and his wife Teresa helped him keep a little better focus on the ’40. “She was instrumental in the build,” Harve says. “She said, ‘we need to get going on this.’” Sounds like a smart woman.
The rebuilt chassis was ultimately fitted with that 289c.i. small block Harve had rebuilt in high school – it had been sitting on an engine stand for decades. It was equipped with an Edelbrock intake, 550cfm Holley carb, electronic ignition, and block-hugger headers. A simple C4 automatic transmission was used to back it up.
Teresa’s input came into play once the Heinzman team had the body straightened out, refined, and ready for paint. Color selection was crucial – “That’s a permanent stamp,” Harve says – and his choices were wavering. At one point he considered purple, and then he was set on orange. Teresa helped steer the choice to a classier maroon hue, a DuPont color called Crazy Raspberry. It’s one of those colors that looks a little more red in bright light, and gravitates toward purple in lower light. It’s bright, but still classy, especially when paired with the Diamondback wide whitewall tires and body-color Wheel Vintiques wheels.
As a ’40 aficionado, Harve likes to point out details like the painted Standard grille, the added passenger-side mirror (which balances out the appearance), and the use of passenger car brackets to tuck in the rear bumper. The chop is the only major body modification and fits the truck’s shape and character well.
Inside, Xotic Customs stitched dough-colored leather over the WiseGuys bench seat and door panels, and even stitched a Ford V8 insignia into the headliner. Chocolate-colored carpet continued the food theme, while VDO gauges, a Lokar shifter, and a ’40-style wheel atop an IDIDIT column kept things simple and classy. Vintage Air was added to keep the cabin cool.
The Ford rolled out of the shop in 2012 and has logged about 10,000 miles since that time. Harve continues to buy and sell cars – he estimates he has owned close to 1,000 since turning 16. He says he tries to avoid getting attached to any of them, preferring to trade them off after a few months or so. This 1940 Ford pickup is different, though. It hauls a lifetime of memories and a family fondness for ’40 Fords, which is enough to make it a true keeper in Harve’s garage.
Photos by Damon Lee