While travelling about we’ll often discover old and interesting vehicles hidden away in fields, back lots and industrial properties. We rarely search them out and stumble across most by accident. Often we’ll be heading to a neat historical site, or a scenic hiking trail, and in the process come away with some unexpected, but always welcome, vehicle finds. It’s a nice bonus to what we do.
Found this month is a 1970s Winnebago, two Fargo trucks, a White Superpower, a funky Sightseer motorhome, 1950s Studebaker cars, an M135 Army truck, a Leyland double-deck bus and a Man Kat military 4×4. Plus more!
First up and spotted in Crossfield Alberta, is a late 1970s/early 1980s Freightliner Cabover. This style of truck, offered by nearly all the makers, was once very common for over the road work. At one time, maximum truck lengths (truck plus trailer) were restricted and it was during that time these compact cabovers became popular. With the lifting of those rules the longer, smother riding, easier-to-work-on conventional style of truck came to dominate the market and since the 1990s few cabovers have been made for highway service. You can still get them for utility work thought, garbage trucks for example and they are popular overseas. The paint suggests it worked for Consolidated Freightways who used a similar green colour on its trucks.
Also seen in Crossfield is a early 70s Winnebago. An iconic design these were at the time the most commonly seen motorhome and even today, we still see a few of them on the road. They remained in production for over the decade, the last ones coming off the line in the late 1970s.
Finding ourselves in Drumheller (on an awful grey day), our first find in a Fargo pickup from the early to mid 1950s. Fargo was a Canada only nameplate – actually you could get them in other parts of the world too, just not the US. They are essentially a re-badged Dodge that was sold at Plymouth dealers. The nameplate was phased out in the early 1970s and in spite of being made in relatively small numbers, they seem to be quite common today and seem very popular with collectors. Take one into the US and watch the heads turn.
Also in Drumheller is a stylish 1962 Chrysler 300, right out of the TV show Mad Men. A gorgeous car with such nice lines this is our first sighting.
Next up is a White Super Power (exact model – we’re not sure) from the late 1940s or early 1950s. This is only the second of this style this author has seen, leading us to believe they are not and never where that common, at least in this part of Canada anyway. It sure is a handsome truck and is all decked out as though it was in or will be in a parade.
Another Fargo is found not far away, this one a 1939-1947 model and while the one seen earlier is clearly drivable, this second one is going to take some work before it sees the road.
Right next to it is a very cool truck – a Ford Econoline van “pickup”. This one dates from the early to mid 1960s. All the big auto makers offered this style of truck in that decade, a van front with a pickup box, but they soon fell out of favour. As a kid I think I had a Hot Wheels or Matchbox version.
In the same lot is a rugged International Paystar 5000 from the early 1980s, one manly machine. Built for severe service this one has a metal hood and fenders, rather than the typical fibreglass. Tough as nails, they found work at mines, quarries, or as oil field trucks.
Still in Drumheller we find a very funky retro motorhome in behind an auto body shop. It’s an early 1970s. Sightseer from the Sightseer Corporation. Not much can be found in this maker, and only few bits and pieces turn up. Based on brochures we’ve found however we know they were made from about 1970-1975. Either they went out off business or as at least one forum post has suggested, were bought out by another maker at that time (Winnebago is mentioned). It’s also suggested it was a stripped down Travco model, and indeed that company did offer a “SightSeer” model, but based on photo evidence, the two may be unrelated. Further research is warranted and updates will certainty be posted.
All the way into BC now and another dull grey day, we find a Long Backhoe Loader in Cranbrook. This is one of the easiest finds and I’m able to shoot it from a friend’s yard. This is a brand I have never heard of – like the motorhome above – and further research is needed. Very little can be found on the Internet, so at this point we don’t know much about the make. Updates are in the works and as always, we invite input from our readers.
Just outside Cranbrook, in the small town of Wasa, we find two nice Studebakers, along with some other interesting vehicles. The latter are inside a compound and are too far away or behind other junk, to photograph. The Studebaker pair, 1955 and 1954 models respectively (I think), are from a maker that few today would recognize.
Seen as an also-ran, this company was one of the independents and it took Studebaker a decade to make the same number of cars Chevrolet did in a year. They were known for their simple and practical if not sometimes quirky designs. That company finally succumbed in 1963 (1966 in Canada). Considered an outcast brand and seen as down right odd by many collectors there is none the less a small a loyal group who loving restore these “oddball” cars. Hopefully someone will get these ones on the road some day. I wish I had the money…
Heading north, we find an old military truck just outside Canal Flats. This is a model M135, produced by GMC at its huge Oshawa Ontario factory in the early to mid 1950s. Canadian models differ from the US produced ones, but only slightly – canvas roofs on the US ones, verses hardtops here. There were other differences too, beyond the scope of this article.
With six wheels, all of them driven, and tons of low end power, these could go pretty much anywhere and carry anything. Albeit slowly – top speed as at best 90kmh or so. They were outfitted as tankers, dump trucks, troop carriers and the like – a very versatile design that could be adapted to a wide range of jobs.
It’s not clear when these trucks were retired but given how historically cash-strapped the military is, they probably lasted a long time in service. I found a surprising number of them for sale on Kijiji and this one seems to have found employment at a farm.
In Invermere, we find a cool Leyland Titan double-deck bus. Made in the UK, this one is a late 1960s model and appears to have be set up as a mobile food bus (seating upstairs?).
In the small village of Nicholson, we find a ubiquitous late 1940s/early 1950s GMC. About as common as a truck gets, it’s in a field with other miscellaneous machinery and such. Plus other cars and trucks, but they were too far into the site and I did not wish to trespass. The mountains make for a nice backdrop.
Nearby is a Mack DM series. Produced from the 1960s and well into the mid 2000s, this was a rugged design. They are still quite common today, at least based on how many we’ve spotted.
Last up is a unique find, a Man Kat ex-military truck spotted in Golden BC. Made in Germany, this one is likely a 1970s or 80s model (1990s examples seem to differ). Brawny and rugged, with plenty of clearance this mean-machine found work as a specialized fire firefighting truck, a job it’s well suited for. If you’re in the market for such a vehicle, it is for sale.
If you like articles like this, click any of the links below…
Old trucks and vehicles – August and September.
The Big Green Motorhome.
Big and orange Dodge Bighorn.
Restored trucks Pioneer Acres Museum Irricana part 1.
If you wish more information on these vehicles, by all means contact us!
Date: October, 2013.
Location: Crossfield and Drumheller AB, Cranbrook, Wasa, Canal Flats, Invermere, Nicholson and Golden BC.