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Staying true to Blue Oval

The famous ‘Blue Oval’ logo of the Ford Motor Company is one of the most easily recognised, and revered brands around the world, and prior to its demise, trucks bearing the Ford nameplate built up a strong following over a number of decades in Australia. 

In terms of capturing the era for some of Ford’s product it is hard to go past the 1954 F-500 and the 1987 LTL-9000 which are currently under the care of Neil Deas, who had both trucks on display at the Rutherglen Rumble over the Easter weekend.

The trucks were restored by the late Phil Morell of Geelong, with the Morell family having a long association with the Ford product through their earthmoving and tipper business, as Deas explained: “Phil’s father Max had a 1954 F-500 tipper, so he got one identical to this one rebuilt and done up to be the way it was back in the day. 

“It still has the old flat-head V8 petrol in it and everything still works, including the hoist, and the interior has been painted as well. It is period correct and the tank and everything has been done back to the way it was, right down to the waterbag on the tie-rails.”

The LTL stood tall beside its older brother and was loaded up with a Caterpillar crawler tractor and having originally been a highway truck, had also undergone a restoration from the ground up. 

“Phil had another LTL before this one, then he found this one, it was pretty much laying in someone’s shed with the diffs out of it. It’s got a 400 Cummins with a 15-speed overdrive. 

“It has quite a different interior to other LTL’s; it seems it’s sort of a changeover between and later LTL models upgrades. It’s the Kentucky interior with the older style dash.”

The short tray has been fitted to carry the Cat tractor which was also part of the Morell earthmoving operation, and the LTL usually tows a trailer with the F500 on board to make for an impressive outfit. 

Fully loaded Deas reckons the big Ford has not trouble getting down the road at a good pace, especially when compared to the old F500.

“The F-500 is a bit of a handful to drive but the LTL gets up and goes all right! The tractor on the back stops it pigrooting a bit.

“I’m not sure what diff ratios are in it but with the 15 o/d she can get there pretty quick. It’s not the original engine, as it originally had a Big Cam 4, but it threw a leg out of bed, but the replacement Big Cam 3 gets along very nicely. It’s a good old truck but nice to drive.”

Prior to his passing, Phil Morell was a regular on the historic show circuit and Deas is now the current custodian of the collection on behalf of his sons who wanted to keep the vehicles in the family.

“He also had a bigger dozer and a couple of crane trucks; he had a good collection of stuff going around to the shows. 

“We have the room to keep them; his boys are not in a position to do anything with them, so hopefully in years to come they can. One lives in inner Geelong and one in Switzerland. They didn’t want to see them sold. They will never be mine to sell and if they want them back, or I’m too old or clapped out to take them to the shows they can decide what to do with them then.”

For Deas, who lives not far from Rutherglen at Barnawartha, housing the collection also ties in with his interests and since taking the trucks on has been to shows in Lancefield, Rochester and Berrigan, and is looking forward to firing up the LTL for some more show action later in the year.

“I love going to the shows, I have found out a lot of information about trucks that I didn’t know previously. I have never driven trucks full-time.

“I have driven trucks part-time, on and off since I was 19. On a nice sunny day like today I can just get in it, fill the book in and go for a drive!” said Deas with a smile.

With both trucks so beautifully restored, they serve as living reminder to times in transport that have passed, and also to the pride and passion held by Phil Morell.

“That’s all he (Phil) wanted to do with them, keep going to shows, that’s what he enjoyed. I must admit I love trucks so that’s what we are doing,” added Deas.

“He was proud of the job he had done, and they are both classics – they both represent the era so well.” 

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