HEIDI’SCUSTOMS & CLASSICS Don Kenney’s 1949 Ford F3 an inherited family treasure

September 1, 2018

Growing up in the mid-1960s, Don Kenney used to visit his uncle, who lived on a farm in Okeene, Oklahoma.

His uncle Slaght owned a 1949 Ford F3 pickup truck, and always told Kenney that one day, his uncle’s beloved truck would be his.

When 1976 rolled around, Kenney was 17 years old, living with his family in Houston, and his uncle said that he was old enough to have the truck.

Kenney already owned a car by this time, a 1968 Chevy Camaro, with a 327ci engine, which he used as he, “proceeded to drag that F3 behind my first car” — in the brutal July heat for the nine-hour drive home.

“It was very hot that day, as (the) heater was all I could do to keep (the) engine cool enough to make it down to Houston,” said Kenney.

“The F3 beast had a 6-cylinder 239 100 hp engine with a 3-speed floorshift transmission with a Granny gear that could, and did, pull many a tree stump,” Kenney said.

The pickup, like many Ford trucks in the day, had been used as a farm truck, so while it was in good condition, it did have typical wear and tear that a truck in rural Oklahoma might see.

“The F3 had usual farm scrapes,” said Kenney, “including back-fender bull damage.”

The truck’s exterior color has gone from black to red and black again since Kenney has owned it.

“It was originally black, but while working at Chicago Bridge and Iron, painting water towers that summer, I got to sandblast and red lead the body skin.”

The truck came with Kenney from Houston to College Station to attend college at Texas A&M University.

“After graduating at 22 years old, I moved to Galveston and, being financially strapped, the F3 got rattle can painted, several times over, fire engine red,” Kenney said.

As life transitions came, the truck took a back seat for a bit.

“Then a real job came, and we needed real transportation. The F3 sat while passions get replaced by responsibilities,” Kenney said, adding, “Kids. Kids need money; old trucks really don’t.”

And so, the kids and family life took priority for Kenney’s time and attention for several years until the next life transition brought the truck back into the limelight.

“The kids moved out in 2011 and truck sat in a few garages, mine included, for three years.”

It was then that Kenney began its latest customization, and the change in paint color was the least of its upgrades.

“It now sports a 1989 Ford pickup junkyard special 302, T6 transmission, drag slicks, new seats, headers, and license plates from Hot Rods of Texas swap meets, tons of stuff from MAC, Speedway, Jegs and Summit Racing, front IFS disc brakes and 2001 Explorer rear end with disc brakes.

“Folks ask if I’m trying to sell it, but my response is, it’s 69 years old, give it a break,” said Kenney.

His next project car is his “soon to be classic” 1998 Galveston Sheriff Highway Inteceptor.

Do you have a classic previously owned by a relative? Or are you passing down a classic to a younger family member? Share your story! Email heidiscustoms andclassics@gmail.com to be considered.

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