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This 1952 Ford F-1 Custom Truck Drives Only Backwards, Is Confusing and Awesome
This could be one of those cases when you’re wondering whether your eyes are deceiving you or some guy is really driving in reverse on public roads and is apparently oblivious to it. The answer is neither.

This 1952 Ford F-1 Custom Truck Drives Only Backwards, Is Confusing and Awesome

Davey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwardsDavey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwardsDavey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwardsDavey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwardsDavey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwardsDavey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwardsDavey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwardsDavey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwardsDavey Hamilton's custom 1952 Ford F-1 drives only backwards
In Indianapolis, Indiana, there’s a rusty-looking, patina-covered 1952 Ford F-1 truck that drives only backwards – not in the sense that it only goes in reverse, but in that it’s been modified extensively so that the front is now rear, and vice verse. It belongs to retired IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton, and it’s a fully custom build that is equal parts confusing and awesome.

You can see the backwards Ford in the video at the bottom of the page, from a late 2019 interview Hamilton gave to Barcroft Cars. He stops short of going into the specifics of the build that may have proved of interest to the wider audience, like the time he spent on the project or how much money it ended up costing him, but he does say this much right off the bat: it was “a lot of work.”

It’s easy to see why: making a truck drive backwards isn’t just a matter of flipping the body around. The challenge for Hamilton started right after he got the idea from a fellow racer and friend in Maine: he couldn’t source a truck of that time that had a large enough rear window that could safely function as a windshield.

After a long time searching, luck struck and he found the perfect truck “like three miles” from his father’s house: a 1953 Ford F-1 that wasn’t too far gone to not be saved. He bought it and started working on it.

First things first, he needed to make place for his feet and the pedals in the footwell, so he carved one into what had been the back of the cabin. He installed a pair of seats from a Polaris RZR he just happened to have lying around, and they make the only contrasting note (and not in a good way) with the rest of the build. Everything else fits just perfectly, especially the custom aluminum dashboard built by Hamilton’s father.

The focus of the project was to make the truck appear perfectly “normal” at first glance, so that it would be a surprise when it started driving the “wrong way.” This also posed a big challenge, because whatever modifications were done to it had to feel natural and not stand out.

Hamilton put a Chevrolet small block 350 V8 into the bed of the truck and covered it with a piece of “rustic” plywood that resembles the metal body. The tailgate of the truck now blocking the airflow and without the possibility of installing a grille, he drilled holes into the tailgate and placed a huge radiator right behind it.

In the former engine bay, he placed a fuel cell for a gas tank.

“It looks like it's supposed to go forward,” Hamilton says with a laugh. “And so it took some time to get everything leveled out and make sure that was mounted properly.”

Surprisingly, the truck is pretty fast and stable and handles well after you get the hang of it, though it’s not in the least aerodynamic. “It’s easy to drive, it’s got like good brakes and all that that goes with it but it’s still a 1952 Ford truck. It’s fun, it’s actually really dynamic with the cab backwards, I’ll tell you that.” 

Hamilton says he drove it at speeds of up to 85 mph (136 kph), but he wouldn’t dare take it any faster. After all, this is a 1952 truck, modifications or not. 

While the backwards truck gets plenty of attention wherever it goes, it never caught the eye of a policeman curious as to why someone would drive in reverse on public roads. Hamilton admits something close to frustration that he wasn’t pulled over once, mostly because he knows “there's nowhere in the rule book that says where the body is supposed to go.” He just wants to see a cop’s reaction to his custom truck, which, yes, is perfectly road-legal. 



 
 
 
 
 

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