1959 Ford P Series Truck Served on Great Lakes Cruiser

By Kathleen Allworth

Terry Hawke will be bringing his 1959 P Series truck back to the 2016 Old Car Festival. Hawke bought the truck in 1993, when it had all of 149 original miles. He has since added about 13,000 miles taking the truck, and the vintage scooters he hauls in it, to car and motorcycle shows.

The truck was built in 1959 to be a baggage truck on the SS Aquarama, a US Navy C-4 military transport ship utilized during World War II. The ship was purchased in 1953 by Sand Products Company of Detroit and retrofitted for her next career as a commercial cruise ship. The ship began service on the Great Lakes in 1956, mainly carrying passengers and their automobiles from Detroit to Cleveland. It didn’t turn much of a profit and eventually ended up mothballed in Muskegon for decades. Hawke’s truck was used to transport luggage on the ship for just a few seasons, thus the low mileage on the vehicle.

Hawke came across the vehicle in 1993 while looking for a way to haul his scooters to car shows and other events. He answered an advertisement in the Detroit News. “I think he had it written up as a 1957 Ford panel truck with a hundred and forty-nine miles,” Hawke said. “Well, I’m not stupid; 149,000 is what I was figuring. I called him and he said no, those were original miles. I told him what I wanted to use it for and he said you could fit two Harley’s into the back of this thing.” When Hawke questioned how you could fit two Harley’s in the back of a panel truck the seller told him that the truck was a little bit more than a panel truck. The seller drew a quick sketch and faxed it off to Hawke. “That’s when I thought maybe I’d better go look at it,” Hawke said.

It turned out that the truck had sat on the docked Aquarama for over thirty years, sealed up safe from the elements. “It was only used a couple seasons and they put the truck in mothballs,” he said. “The estate closed the ship up and thirty-two years later they opened it up and inside it there was this truck and a Volkswagen Bus. There were menus and games. Everything was sealed off. It was kind of a time capsule when they opened it.”

These days the truck still serves a purpose, hauling five Pony Cycle’s that were built by Hawke’s father and grandfather at their family business, Hawk Tool and Engineering Company, in Clarkston, Michigan, in the 1950s. The truck is all original and carries five scooters and the vintage tools required to keep them in running order. Hawke customized the truck to add a lounge, storage and plenty of room for five bikes. It opens up on both sides so that it can function perfectly as a workshop and display room on wheels.

Hawke will be taking his bikes to the Gilmore Car Museum on Sunday, June 12th for the Vintage Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet where they will be the main draw.

“I stumbled across it,” Hawke says of his rare truck with a rich and curious history. “It’s what they call a barn find, and I found it!”

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