I took the back roads to Medford on the return leg of my car trip to Eugene and pulled into the town of Drain, population 1800, on the off chance of spotting old dead cars on farms and backyards.
To my surprise, the Old Car Gods were shining on me that Sunday, Leroy Farley was driving around town on an errand in his workhorse truck, a 1956 two toned Ford. He pulled into the local garage in hopes of rescuing his wife’s Toyota where it had been for a week. Much to my delight and to his consternation, the garage was closed. I pulled in directly behind the truck, popped out with a smile on my face and camera in hand and asked If I could take a few pictures of his truck. Leroy was surprised at the attention but delighted to accommodate.
Leroy is the original owner of his 1956 Fordamatic Truck. As life threw various relocation opportunities his way, the truck wound up sitting on his in-laws property under an ancient oak tree for over twenty years. Finally succumbing to rational adulthood, Leroy began to appreciate the value of the truck and rescued it with the intention of restoring it. He could use a truck and didn’t have the resources to buy a new one. Besides, he reasoned, no new truck would be as good as his 272 V8 Fordamatic. Little did he know his decision would turn into an eight year automotive odyssey.
Leroy’s oldest friends got in on the adventure. Over beers and stories of childhood memories of old cars, one friend said, “Leroy, I don’t remember you ever in a Chevy,” to which Leroy replied, “and you never will.”
In 1977 Leroy towed his treasure home to Drain where he began the restoration. Week-ends and summer nights he coaxed the truck back to its original condition. By 1985 he had restored and overhauled the truck with original parts and even re-cored the old radiator. Today, the car has 90,000 original miles and though it rattles a bit, Leroy’s Ford only sees a repair shop when he checks on his wife’s Toyota.