#RoadTripRewind: In Pursuit of a 'Donor' Truck, Employee Drives 5,000+ Miles With 1,500 Pounds in Car Parts

Wall Drug 80-foot dinosaur. Photos courtesy of Steve Johnson.

In 2002, I was living in Dearborn and working at Ford and I always wanted a late ‘70s vintage Ford truck. A good friend of mine, who also was working for Ford, was on assignment in the Pacific Northwest (Washington/Oregon) area. I asked him to keep an eye out for a truck that was in good condition that I could bring back to Michigan.

We found a 1979 F-250 Lariat Camper Special that fit my wants/desires perfectly. We purchased the truck, worked on it for a couple of weeks, and I flew out and drove it back to Michigan.

In 2007, I wanted to replace the powertrain with a more modern version with fuel injection and an automatic overdrive transmission. We found a perfect donor truck that had been in an accident near my buddy’s house out west, so my friend brought it to his house and disassembled/scrapped everything we didn’t need for the transformation.

In the fall of 2007, I drove my old trusty 1985 E-250 work van from Michigan to Washington, loaded up all of the parts from the donor truck and drove back to Michigan over 10 days and 5,000+ miles. My buddy joined me on the return trip, so we took a side adventure through Yellowstone and found some great back roads to explore, all while hauling about 1,500 pounds in car parts.

We had a great time. The van had the infamous carbureted 4.9L (300 CID) straight-six engine and C6 three-speed automatic transmission. It was a slow climb up some of the steep mountain passes, but the old van got the job done. What a fun trip.

The donor powertrain now resides in its new home under the hood of the 1979 truck. It’s been in the PDC car show several times. People seem to be drawn to the classic styling of the ‘70s Ford trucks as I get many compliments about it.

For those who are interested, the original 1979 F-250 had the carbureted 7.5L (460 CID) engine with a C6 three-speed automatic transmission. The donor powertrain was a 1997 vintage 7.5L EFI California emissions engine with an E4OD four-speed automatic transmission.

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Cross-Country Donor Truck Trip

In the fall of 2007, Steve Johnson drove his old trusty 1985 E-250 work van from Michigan to Washington, loaded up all of the parts from the donor truck and drove back to Michigan over ten days and 5000+ miles. The donor powertrain is now under the hood of this '79 F-250 Lariat Camper Special.

Your Turn

Share Your #RoadTripRewind Photos on Social Media

Would you give anything to relive a special road trip?

Now’s the time to share your fondest, most-memorable road trip stories! Dig up your old pictures and videos, share the places you traveled, including the vehicle you or your family used to explore.

This summer, Ford is going to read through each of your special memories and one of YOU could be selected to recreate that special memory… again!

This time, the trip is on Ford, and behind the wheel of the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer.

Use the hashtags #RoadTripRewind and #ExploreOurAmerica on your personal social networks to join in on the conversation. (Note: Make sure your posts are set to public to be included!)

(Fans who aren’t on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook can submit their experiences by emailing their favorite road trip memories to roadtriprewind@gtb.com.) If you'd like to share your #RoadTripRewind story with your fellow Ford employees, feel free to send it along to us atford@ford.com as well.

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