The Ford F1 Story - From California to Karachi

by Hamid Omar

Soon after we got married, my wife Sabiha asked me to get a Ford F1 truck for her. I tried my best but could not find any in Pakistan. Some thirty years later, on one of her visits to America, she found one in a small town called Dry Town near Sacramento, California. She convinced the owner to sell it to her and I think she got it for $140 (exact amount she has not told me - only that it cost more to have it towed to our friend Javed Akber's house in Sacramento). Till we could figure out how to have it shipped to Karachi, for over a year the Ford truck remained parked in Javed's garage (while their own two cars remained out in the open).

ford in sacramento, CA.jpg

For a while I thought it near impossible that we would be able to get the necessary paperwork done to import it into Pakistan. Then one day we happened to meet a friend in Karachi, who offered to have it delivered to our doorstep in two months. Not really believing him, we asked him to please do so, and to our surprise he did exactly that! There was some delay though at the port as the custom people could not figure out why someone would import such an old beat-up ugly truck. They thought there was something more to it than meets the eye! Eventually they said they will treat it like a new car and charge duty on it accordingly - they too were surprised when we got them the original new Ford F1 price from the Ford Motor Company, it was $1400 for the 1948 model! Eventually they let us take it - we did have one other small delay though, when we were exiting the dock's gate, some guard thought we were actually smuggling out the new looking tow truck with the beat up truck on it as a disguise! Well once the truck was home, I realized that now I was finally faced with the gigantic task of rebuilding the truck to the high expectations of Sabiha!

First something about rebuilding of cars in Pakistan - many people rebuild 4×4 vehicles and that too mostly Jeeps with the original petrol engines replaced often by a rebuilt Toyota diesel engine and transmission. Toyota engines are very popular here as old engines and the new parts needed for them are commonly available and over time they have proven to be very reliable. Labor being relatively cheap, a lot of extensive work on the body, frame including modifications is possible. But it usually takes a long time and personal involvement to get the job done at commercial workshops so one needs to have a lot of patience! I am lucky to work at a place where I have my own workshop with a full time mechanic, electrician, denter and painter. The workshop also has access to an in house machining and fabrication facility.

ford in karachi.jpg

After just sitting and staring at the old Ford F1 for quite a long time and finally having figured some basic things out with the help of my friend Taimur Mirza, the rebuilding started with dismantling the whole vehicle into its smallest parts. The major decision was to make the vehicle off-road capable (originally it is a two wheel drive with a rather low clearance and a small engine) by installing a 1992 Toyota Land Cruiser 4.2 liter turbo charged diesel engine, 4 speed automatic transmission and drive train. In other words, it would be a Ford F1 with a reliable Toyota Land Cruiser underneath - making it fit for the many future off-road trips.

Ford Chasis.jpg

All the parts were stripped clean to bare metal using paint remover, sand papers and lots and lots of physical effort! The chassis needed a bit of straightening and the engine mounts were modified to take the new bigger engine and transmission. The chassis was welded and strengthened where needed. The Land Cruiser differentials were originally coil spring mounted - they were modified to take leaf spring suspension. Initially all the welding and modifications was done on a temporary basis in case some changes were needed to be done. Engine, transmission, suspension and differentials were installed and drive shafts fitted. Radiator and transmission oil cooler mount was done within the space of front end grill. With not much space left, it was decided to mount the air conditioning cooling coil underside of the passenger cabin. This would also help keep the engine cooler - an important consideration in our hot climate here. Next the passenger cabin was fixed - the fire wall and the floor were modified to make space for the bigger engine and transmission. The steering wheel and brake pedals etc. was moved to the right hand side and this meant the modification of the whole dash board also. This was done to cater for driving on the left hand side of the roads in Pakistan. Power steering box was fitted taking into account that the linkage etc. did not interfere with anything else. Side walls off engine compartment and front grill were installed. Then in the remaining tight space installation of power assisted brake/master cylinder, air cleaner, radiator over flow water bottle as well as wiper water bottle, fuse box, diesel filter etc. were done.

Next came the work of figuring out the best straight through path for the silencer piping. To ensure longevity this was done all in stainless steel. Pipe used is of 3” diameter to minimize any back pressure. Silencer system was hung using rubber bushings and mounts similar to those used in shock absorbers to ensure no way the system could fail in the beating it gets in the tough off road conditions. On the off road trips, I have seen too many systems fall off literally so I made sure mine wouldn't. All the body trims etc. were ordered from a shop near Sacramento. Nearly every part needed is available from there.

ford f1.jpg

Once the whole truck had been assembled and checked for proper fitting, it was then disassembled again. All temporary welding were strengthened, parts cleaned and painted red and then the final reassembly was done. Then came the work of wiring, upholstery and installation of the rear body wooden floor. After taking a test ride round the block, the paint was rubbed and polished. The truck is now on the road and is being fine tuned to be ready for a trip to the northern areas next month. Meanwhile it can be spotted on the streets of Karachi painting the town red!

Specifications of modified Ford F1:

links elsewhere

Posted in Misc, September 29, 2007, by Hamid Omar

Your Comments (11)

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khurram on September 30, 2007 9:17 AM

A truly inspirational story and love the picture you put up on pakwheels…the car looks spectacular, I’ve never seem a resto done so brilliantly, 30years in the making the stuff dreams are made off. Although I’m sure the wife has to fight you for the keys haha. happy trails.

ADIL AKHTAR on September 30, 2007 4:30 PM

Assalam Alekum, i am speachless, what a beauty u have converted this truck into mind blowing , i my self like to restore old bikes etc, but this is some thing very special,

only thing to say excellent job sir.

with best regards

Patricia on October 4, 2007 9:13 PM

A real beauty! Congratulations Hamid & Sabiha. Heres to lots of long, happy and adventurous times for you both!

Imad on October 10, 2007 5:09 AM

Congratulations! It's very nice from what I can see here! Can't wait to see it in person! A test drive is definitely in order :)

faizi on October 10, 2007 2:54 PM

Fantabolous work!! congrats......... its really nice to see this truck in one piece and restored!! specially after lettin my brain eatin up by AO for a year and half i suppose?!! i hope the boats engine also doin as perfect ;p. i still remember that exhaust crap that happened earlier!!

wajhi ghumman on October 11, 2007 6:30 AM

Congratulations, Truely insprational story, I wish my wife liked cars like this :(. Anyways splendid job you did with the truck.
Also, One must admire the job done dentors, mechanics etc. I did not know these people that good in Pakistan. Realy feel pround Pakistani
So, How is the drive? Is it as smooth as the truck looks?


Hamid Omar on October 12, 2007 4:23 AM

Wajhi - about the drive of Ford F1 - will post comments & more pictures after about two weeks when we return from our trip to Northern areas (leaving tomorrow 13th Oct). And more after we have been to the desert (mid Nov).
On the test trials: Ride is a bit rough compared to say later model Toyota Prado or Surf - but that was expected due to stiffer suspension suitable for off-roading. When loaded with camping gear etc. the ride will be much better! It is full time 4 wheel drive and climbs 50degree 'mittee' (mud) slopes easily without slipping tyres in normal gearing - with low range 4 wheel drive it seems it will climb near verticle slopes! The BFgoodridge tyres provede very good grip so that helps also. Tried same slope on Surf (normal gearing) - the wheels just slipped and would not climb up at all! Well more later.

Faraz Rabbani on October 30, 2007 9:15 PM

Hamid Mamoo! Great, inspiring work... Yet another Hamidism... :)

Missing you, too.


fahd on November 24, 2007 12:17 PM

eat ur heart out boyd coddington. its good to hear we have a chip foose in pakistan (only better). cant wait to hear of ur next project. "Omar's Rock"

BILAL MIRZA on November 28, 2007 7:50 PM


Roy on December 29, 2007 6:04 AM

Yes, as a long-time resident from the Sacramento area I can attest that most vehicles here, never exposed to road salt, ocean-spray nor even much rain, can last almost forever before rusting significantly. It is common for cars which are 30-40 years old to be in showroom condition if the owners have tended to waxing and washing. I am driving one now which is almost 20 yrs old and it's body and even upholstery are nearly perfect. Perhaps I should organize a business to enable more such projects. Congratulations on a very nice restoration and revitalization project! Love the website too. Kudos!

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