Ford Eclipse Roadster Pickup
Ray Farhner, owner of an Independence, MO, custom shop, was certain that the best way to advertise his work would be to build a radical show vehicle that, in the words of hot rod artist, Thom Taylor, could “...straddle the line between custom and hot rod.” Starting in 1959 with a ’32 Ford roadster pickup, Farhner and Doug Thompson spent $4,500 and over 4,400 hours (a period HRM feature says $5,000/5,000 hours) into a stunning truck that put Ray and his shop on the map virtually overnight.
To achieve a very low silhouette, the roadster pickup body was channeled some six inches over the Zee-ed ‘32 Ford frame and the convertible top was chopped four-inches. A three-inch dropped front axle and a reversed-eyed spring helped lower the front of the car to match the new rear end height. ’56 Chrysler chromed wire wheels with thin whitewalls, gave the car a sporty appearance.
Nearly every body panel element on this truck was significantly altered. A futuristic custom grille surround was flanked by quad Lucas “Flamethrower” headlights in pods that were faired into a sculpted vertical opening. Typical of the era, the grille itself was comprised of ’58 Ford grille mesh punctuated with ’58 Cadillac ‘teeth’. The grille itself, along with the hood, fenders and running boards, were all molded together. Further mixing rod and custom elements, a pair of handmade nerf bars and twin spotlights were also added.
A custom pickup bed was built, using ’59 Chevrolet rear quarter panels, and its flared rear section sported a quartet of ’58 Cadillac grille ‘teeth’ and ’59 Cadillac bullet taillights. The rear fenders were originally from a ’29 Model A, but they were rotated 180-degrees and molded in ‘floating’ form to enhance the illusion of speed. Wraparound bumperettes, twin radio antennas mounted in housings made from molded exhaust tubing, and a pair of flared exhaust pipes flanked the pickup bed. The bed flooring was Philippine mahogany, and a tonneau cover finished off the rear.
Art West, a Kansas City trimmer, created the white Naugahyde interior with blue buttons and matching carpets. Originally, the dash and running board steps were also padded and fitted with similar material. As a finishing touch, the truck received 22 coats of “Moonglow Pearl,” a light blue shade. Thus finished, and called the “Blue Angel,” the radical custom truck was shown at the 1960 NHRA Show in Detroit where it reportedly beat the famed “Ala Kart” for Best of Show. The truck was also shown at the 1960 Grand National Roadster Show and featured in Hot Rod magazine in December of that year. Ray Fahrner continually changed his truck to keep it ‘show competitive.’ In the mid-‘60’s, he repainted it a darker shade of blue and changed its name to “Eclipse.
Updated by Doug Thompson in the early ‘80’s, the pickup bed received a walnut interior and a Plexiglas floor so the rear end could better be seen. Originally, the truck was fitted with a 331 cubic inch ’54 Cadillac V8 with a Howard F5 cam, triple Stromberg carburetors on an Edelbrock manifold, tubular pushrods and magnesium rocker arms. Subsequently, Doug Thompson installed a 302 cubic inch Ford V8, along with Jaguar independent rear suspension, a Super Bell tubular dropped axle, four-bar front suspension and disc brakes. The upholstery was updated with pure white Naugahyde, and running board strips replaced the pads. The top, with its dramatic four-inch front overhang, was also redone at this time.
The “Eclipse” was subsequently shown in Europe, and it spent six years at Darryl Starbird’s Hall of Fame Museum in Afton, Oklahoma. Dramatically different, with a long, storied history, Ray Fahrner’s “Eclipse” still dazzles onlookers who can only imagine the impact this stunning truck caused on the show circuits, half a century ago.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in September 2009 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California.
Est. 300 bhp, 302 cu. in. Ford V8 engine, Super Bell front axle with semi-elliptic transverse leaf spring, Jaguar independent rear suspension, front and rear disc brakes. Wheelbase: 112"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel