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Southern Alberta automotive restorers team up to build top-10 ranked truck

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Lyle Vass fabricated a 1940 Ford pickup truck that took six years to complete and used talented specialists from all over Southern Alberta for the project.

The finished truck was entered into the GoodGuys automotive shows in Washington and California, where it took home second place.

"It's the biggest build that I've had the opportunity to do," said Vass. "I'm hoping that we'll get to do more now that this truck is finished."

It was financed by Wayne McLachlan, who lives in Red Deer. He found parts of two old Ford trucks in Oregon and delivered them to Vass' shop near Strathmore, Alta., in 2016.

"From those two partial trucks, I think we used half of one cab and half of another, and two front fenders, and that was it," said Vass. "We built the rest of the truck from scratch because there just wasn't enough there that was workable."

McLachlan is passionate about the style of the Ford pickup, which he says reminds him of his youth. He says he wanted something nice to take camping and ended up spending well over $500,000.

"I didn't really know what I was getting into," he said. "I knew I wanted something nice and that worked well and that had torque and horsepower to pull this holiday trailer around, and that's how the whole thing got started."

Mechanics on reality television shows complete high-quality restorations in a few episodes, when in reality, those projects take years to finish.

Vass says he sourced other restorers to add their expertise to the truck.

"I built the body," he said. "Steven McLean (in Coronation) did the paint, Auto Marine (from Calgary) did the upholstery, Competition Engines (in Crossfield) built the engine, Art Morrison (located in Fife, Wash.) built the chassis and then there's hundreds of parts suppliers that we've pulled parts from."

Steven McLean specializes in painting vehicles at the shop he owns called Federal County Customs. He spent hours on the truck.

"On the 40, that was a year and a half and it felt like we sanded for 10 years because we didn't have anything to break it up," he said. "It was just sanding, sanding and sanding because of all the stages, then you think you're close and you've got to stand it again and even for wet sanding, it's like 600 grit, 1,000 grit, 1,500 grit, 2,000 grit, 3,000 grit and 5,000 before your polishing. So you've sanded that thing six times before you even get to see the finish on it."

McLean says depending on the sanding blocks he used, it was typical to see his fingers bleeding at the end of the day, but he says it was worth it in the end.

"I love that truck, that is by far the best thing we've ever done," said McLean. "It was an amazing opportunity to work for Wayne, he let us really push ourselves and it was stressful, like the dollar figures and the hours into that truck were stressful, you want to make sure that the client is going to get something nice when it's done."

McLaughlin says he had the truck built to drive and it as all the features of a new truck. He can't wait to see how it performs pulling his trailer and says he might still enter it into a few car shows in the future.

"I might be 'projected' out after this," he said. "This turned into a major project, I mean I was 62 years old when we started now I'm 69 so we're going to use (the 1940 Ford) before I decide on another project."

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