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Old Lindsay Bros Ford LTL transformed by farmer’s restoration

Farmer and diesel mechanic Mitch Underwood is by no means a man of expensive taste – but when it comes to restoring old trucks, he’s not too worried about going over budget.

“I don’t have a sports car or a yacht on a harbour, but I love old trucks and old machinery!” he laughed.

“If it’s a worthwhile project, I’m happy to spend a bit of money on it.”

Underwood, who comes from the small town of Arcadia in Victoria, spent 18 months and about $55,000 restoring a 1987 Ford LTL.

He tried to stay as close as possible to the original model, and is delighted with the results.

“If you went back in 1987 and said ‘I want this sort of truck’, the truck I have now is that bloody close to it you wouldn’t notice the difference,” he said.

“We kept the lights traditional, we kept a lot of things traditional. I spent more than I budgeted, but that covered new tyres, new batteries, everything.

“I’m really happy with how it’s turned out, it’s gone over and above what I ever expected.”

The Ford LTL, after a lot of love from Underwood. Image: Mitch Underwood

Underwood bought the truck second-hand for about $30k, with the idea to “tidy it up a bit”, but he ended up taking the project a lot further.

“The truck started its life as a Lindsay Brothers truck, and it was kicked around a few farms in central New South Wales. I bought it off a guy called Gary in Jerilderie who does restoration work, but just didn’t have the time to put into this truck.

“I got it with the idea to tidy it up and have it as a bit of a classic, but also to work as a farm truck.

“I went to town to get a bit of rust and a few things tidied up. The original quote was just $6,800. And then I went to ‘Oh my God, let’s actually pull the whole thing apart and redo it!’”

The Ford as it originally looked in the 80s, when it was owned by Lindsay Bros.

Underwood worked with various different suppliers over the course of the restoration, and praised them for their fantastic work.

“I took the truck in to some chaps in Shepparton called Cundari Bros. Joe and Dom did a wonderful job in pulling it apart and repainting it, repairing it and doing work on it. I did some of the little things while it was in with them too.

“Cundari Bros did such a good job, the truck went from looking OK to ‘Woah, have you seen this thing?’

“That being the case, it’s been easier for me to justify doing more bits and pieces.”

The truck before the restoration, when Underwood first got his hands on it. Image: Mitch Underwood

He continued: “Randall in Custom Care in Seymour polished the tank and brackets and stuff for me, and Northern Chrome did a great job with the chrome grill.

“Getting the grill done was probably one of the more worrying parts, because it was broken, and he was able to find a guy to repair it. Craig and his crew did a great job resetting the grill and doing all that.”

Underwood sourced most of the parts he needed from Universal Truck Wreckers and Graham Thompson Motors in Shepparton, as well as Just Louisville’s in WA.

“I’ve been collecting all the parts from them along the way. Universal Truck Wreckers told me ‘I think we need to get you a desk and chair mate, you’re in here so often!’”

He also used his own knowledge of mechanics to do some repair work on the truck, as well as some fit outs, setting up the turntable and refitting all the hydraulics.

“Where possible I’ve been involved, doing what I can,” he added.

Taking it right back to the bones before building the truck back up again. Image: Mitch Underwood

Underwood uses the truck on the farm mostly during harvest time, when it pulls a tipping trailer and carts grain and fertiliser back and forth from the farm to Melbourne and Geelong.

He says he’s never allowed to sell it, because his 13-year-old son Jamie would be devastated.

“Jamie just loves that truck. He actually framed a picture of it and gave it to me for Christmas, it’s hanging on the wall in our house!”

His next project is the restoration of another vintage truck – a 1985 Kenworth SAR.

“The SAR mechanically now is pretty A1, and I’m going to redo the paintwork and a few details along the way.”

His advice for anyone who might want to try restoring an old truck? Don’t take no for an answer!

“You just want to be motivated to follow through.I always liked old trucks, and what you pay for an old truck, compared to what you pay for a modern day truck…They take a lot more looking after.

“Once the old trucks are fixed up, they haven’t got the modern electronics that create gremlins along the way.

“I could never afford a new or late model truck, but some of the older trucks have a bit of character in them. I’m an old school mechanic, and I’m more comfortable with the old trucks because that’s just the era I grew up in.

“I don’t do a lot of kilometres, I’m only a small operator. I just said I’ll buy this truck and come up with something a bit special.”

This story originally appeared in Issue 500 of Deals on Wheels and on the Trade Trucks website

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