carried our soldiers to victory
Built in Windsor, made for war, a big green
brute fills the entire repair bay of an automotive shop.
If old metal could talk, the 1943-vintage
behemoth has a home-grown tale to tell. Which is exactly why
Geoff Bottoms is restoring it: to illustrate a story about
Windsor, its automotive industry and how both helped win a world
war with trucks like this one.
This Saturday, the restored 1943 Ford F60
truck, a wartime designated Canadian Military Pattern model
three-ton lorry, will join other vintage vehicles for a display
on Windsor's waterfront that can provide a rollicking history
"It amazes me you have so many people who
don't know their history here and the vehicles that came out of
Windsor," said Bottoms. "The whole Canadian army moved
in these vehicles."
Built by Ford barely a block from his shop,
the truck was among hundreds of thousands manufactured by
workers during the Second World War. Ford, General Motors,
Chrysler and so many other suppliers and their workforce armies
joined the war effort, forming what became known as the arsenal
A restoration in progress, the truck still
reflects the authentic rugged, reliability of the original
design and craftsmanship built to British specifications for
Canadian Military Pattern production, Bottoms said.
"Anyone could fix it in the field,"
The grille still sports a vintage Ford badge.
The spartan cab comes with right-hand steering.
Military-standard tires 43 inches in diameter and weighing more
than 150 pounds each were found on eBay and shipped from
Bottoms has spent a year finding, fitting,
buying, bending and making parts. To carry people and cargo, he
designed a large enclosed cabin, drawing from historical photos
The massive machine likely didn't get overseas
but may have been used for military duty in Windsor. After the
war, the truck became surplus like so many wartime vehicles sold
later for whatever someone would pay, Bottoms said.
The truck hauled, among other things, tomatoes
in Leamington where Bottoms discovered it a year ago. Where
others saw a hopeless mess of rust with barely the frame intact,
Bottoms saw potential for long-held plans to restore a military
vehicle and some of Windsor's past.
The truck at least came with a serviceable
four-wheel drive drivetrain, Ford flathead V-8 engine with 100
horsepower, even a fuel pump that works. Bottoms, who operates
Geoff's Automotive, at 1390 Drouillard Rd., has restored over
the years 20 vehicles, mostly British cars.
He discovered a wider military community and
met people, like Mike Timoshyk, just as concerned about
preserving vehicles and their historic past.
Timoshyk spent 311/2 years in the Canadian
navy, moved from British Columbia to Windsor and joined the
naval reserve here. He owns two vintage Jeeps and is restoring a
1942 Ford F15A truck, designated a Canadian Military Pattern 15
Built and used in Windsor to train troops, the
truck later on was used in Northern Ontario as a snowplow.
Restoration began 18 months ago and included
making tool bins and a tailgate built to specs from scratch.
Painted with dashing desert camouflage colours, the vehicle
honours the Allies' Italian campaign in which a family member
Lt. Col. Morris Brause, commanding officer of
the Essex Kent Scottish Regiment, lauds such restoration
"When you do something like that, it
makes history more meaningful," Brause said. Such supply
trucks are the "unsung heroes that provided a lifeline that
kept the soldiers going."
Windsor made and restored, both trucks will
soldier on for military parade and display duty. They're
road-worthy, requiring safety inspections and licences but not
emission tests because of age.
They also take skill to drive. They may not
reach highway speeds but they're big, heavy and really can go
through brick walls. They have manual brakes and steering, the
accelerator is in the middle, brake pedal on right, clutch on
Shifting gears takes co-ordinated double
clutching, and Timoshyk says he prepares to downshift one block
A conversation starter, the truck can also
stop traffic, as motorists wonder what the heck it is, he said.
Veterans know all too well. "They either
pat it or curse it," Timoshyk said. They may remember
wartime circumstances and gruelling hours in rough and ready
Bottoms says of the people who see the big
green truck in his service bay, "They find it unbelievable
it was built a few feet from this very shop."
In all, 857,970 wartime vehicles were
manufactured in Canada by automakers here and in Oshawa under
the Canadian Military Pattern for the Second World War, says
Mike Timoshyk, a Windsor naval reserve officer.
Pooling their design and engineering,
automakers and suppliers brought vehicles into production within
months. The popular website dedicated to Canadian military
vehicles - www.mapleleafup - explains simply: "They were a
miracle of production."
Timoshyk brings his desert camouflage-coloured
F15A CMP truck to events and groups, including school children,
to reveal Canadian military history. "The youth don't know
the connection between the industry and horsepower of Windsor
and the contribution to the war effort," he says.
This article originally
appeared in the Windsor Star on Tuesday,
May 26, 2009.