Stepping outside the normal boundaries of truckdom we find this 1953 English Ford Thames panel converted to drag strip use. In the forties and fifties English Fords were imported with hopes of generous sales numbers. The Thames panel delivery trucks was available in 1/4 and 1/2 ton versions. Even though they were discounted substantially, there was an excess of stock compared to demand and eventually they became a drug on the marketplace.

Early drag racers, always hungry for budget-cutting opportunities, found they could easily obtain these vehicles for almost pocket change. Initially vehicles of foreign manufacture were not allowed in the GAS classes. They also fell 4" short in the minimum wheelbase requirements. However, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was eager to extend their influence and created more classifications. Soon there were a plethora of Anglia-based Gassers.

During the 1960s the Gas Class (Gassers) was in its prime. Their ranks were swelling with all manner of vehicles including a small number of panel trucks from Ford of England and Willys. Harold Pearce, a trucker by trade, wanted to go the less-traveled path at the drag strip. While many were running the 90" wheelbase Anglia Coupes, Pearce opted for a truck.

His Thames traded its anemic 1/4 ton hauling capacity for serious ass-hauling at the drag strip. Shedding it stodgy stock persona the truck was painted bright Royal Blue metallic, and invigorated by a Hilborn-injected 370 cubic-inch small-block Chevrolet engine, Mondello heads, Isky cam, Cal Hydro trans, 1951 Mercury rear axle, Dragmaster Dragster pie-crust slicks, and American Racing 15" wheels front and back. Pearce whistled the Ford down the track in 10.60 seconds at 134.51 mph -- a very competitive effort.

Despite its diminutive dimensions it bore a similar profile to the old police "paddy wagons" of yesteryear. That similarity was not lost on Pearce and he dubbed the truck as such, complete with simulated "barred windows" on the rear access door.

No, it was no longer a beast of burden, retaining only the most rudimentary vestiges of it previous life as a delivery truck. The real truck was probably the one used to take it to the track. Still, to many ogling drag strip spectators, this was definitely a truck they would remember, even if only as a symbol of trucks in a sea of autos. There's nothing wrong with that.