Cool things – Morris? Is that you?

14 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 26, 2018

It‘s a safe bet that most motorists would not expect to be passed by a sixties-era truck – but this is no ordinary Morris.

The 1965 Morris FGK60 owned by Tim Rush of Feilding now has a secret weapon powering it – a 2008 GM/Holden all-aluminium LS2 V8 motor running into a 4-speed automatic transmission. “ With its current power plant, first there‘s the noise of the V8 and then there‘s the speed of it, which does shock a few people when an old Morris truck with a race car on the back of it gets out and passes them. It‘s not something that should happen but it does,” says Tim. Tim says his love affair and obsession with Morris vehicles began at the age of 15 when he bought three Morris Minors, and it has never gone away.

“I wanted a Morris truck to carry Morris cars and other things that we own in our collection,” he says. “I had been looking for about four or five years for a Morris truck when this one popped up on Trade Me.” Within 24 hours of the auction finishing, Tim had borrowed a truck and was in Hawke‘s Bay to collect it. “ The motor ran but had been sitting in a shed for about six years so I transported it back. It had only ever been used in an orchard carrying apples from the orchard to the wharf and back. It only had 65,000 miles on the clock, which was not a lot.”

Tim brought it back to Feilding and set about restoring it to its original glory.

“It was in original condition, very good condition, however like all vehicles of that age, they weren‘t very well rust protected so all the seams in the cab had to be pulled apart. In the end the roof came off the main body and the guards came off the bottom. It turned into a bit of a Meccano set, but it‘s all back together now and looking good.”

Tim did a lot of the work himself, but had the rust and panel work done by Terry Price in Wanganui at Restorations Unlimited.

“I built the deck myself, including mounting the motor and gearbox. I designed it all myself and then set to and built it here in the shed.”

Photos: In the beginning the task can be daunting and seem overwhelming. The Morris looking sad and the old engine still in place.

Photos: All of a sudden the vision starts to emerge as a reality. The engine in place and cab back, repaired and painted, deck frame on and ramps in their slot.

The ‘shed‘ is not your ordinary backyard workshop; it ‘s home to the famed Rush Collection of historic open wheeler race cars, motor racing artifacts and commercial vehicles. “I had to get a welding certificate so I was qualified to do the job,” says Tim. “I wanted to not have to rely on somebody else. When you can do it yourself you don‘t have to wait for other people, and everyone doesn‘t put in their two cents worth on what they think you should do either.” The FGK60 was often referred to as a ‘hothouse‘ truck because the original motor and gearbox were in the cab. “ With all the windows and then the big motor in the front they were known for cooking people. I moved the motor back behind the cab, under the deck, and it sits in there quite nicely now. Then of course I had to get a new driveshaft made and I also changed the diff to a Chevrolet Dually diff.” Originally the truck had a 4-litre 6-cylinder straight six Morris motor running into a 4-speed manual transmission. “ Very, very slow!” laughs Tim. “But I really built the vehicle with the motor that ‘s in it due to cost. It only owes me $2000 for the motor and transmission. It‘s fuel injected, you just walk out, turn the key and it fires into life and it just makes it a pleasure to drive. And probably cheaper in the long run to go on trips with.”

Photo: Tim Rush has done an outstanding job. The patience has paid off. Now for the reward taking the family racing car collection all over the country. 

Tim says he tried to keep the look of the truck to how it would have looked back in the sixties.

“All the wheels are original on it. I was offered some aluminium wheels to put on it, but I was going for the period look so used the original steel wheels. The steering is all original Morris and so are the brakes, but the brakes have been stainless steel sleeved and diameter increased so the braking is now sufficient for the New Zealand brake coding requirements for a commercial vehicle.”

Tim also upgraded the windscreen wipers, which now have three speeds, something he wasn‘t prepared to do without. He also added a discreet modern stereo mounted on the right side of the cab.

“ W hen looking in the cab it looks like a totally period truck until you start to look closer. The dash now has two Morris clusters in it, one is a speedo and the other one has been converted to a rev counter.”

Keeping the interior traditional, the seats were re-upholstered in black vinyl with tuck and roll stitching by Feilding Upholstery.

“ They also have had more padding put in them and more shape so that they are more suited for longer travel, and it has been converted from a two-seater to a three-seater with a small bench seat for the passengers.”

The original 4-speed floor shifter has also been changed to a column change.

“It gives more room for passengers and it looks as though it was period for the piece. Everything I‘ve done I‘ve tried to make so that it is 1960‘s period, including decal stickers which we‘re waiting to arrive.”

Photos: The addition of the rev counter and the non-standard column shifter – made in period design – absolutely enhance the look. The interior has every modern extra in it… yeah nah… but oh what a beautiful place. (We had an FGK60 farm truck. This is emotional. I want one – Ed LOL)

When it came to doing the wiring on the truck, Tim became the apprentice at Feilding Auto Electrical Ltd under the watchful eye of Huw Allen. He says Huw ‘s input and help with making it all work was hugely appreciated. Tim was also very grateful for the words of wisdom, praise and knowledge during the rebuild from Kevin Englebretsen of K & A Design Ltd in Halcombe, who was responsible for the certification of the Morris.

The custom-built deck features tail lights from a 1965 Chevrolet Corvair and slide-out aluminium loading ramps. Tim says he went for those rather than hydraulic ramps, to keep the weight down.

The truck, which has been on the road since Labour Weekend last year, took Tim three years to complete. “But during that period I also built a house, carried on racing, and went to America for two trips! Before buying the Morris I had originally gone to America to buy a Chev cabover truck. I was about to pay for it and thought I should actually sit in it, and once I did, I realised there was no room for a tall, long-legged male. So that ended that saga of life. “But I‘m glad it did, because it‘s interesting now with the Morris, people in New Zealand can relate to the truck and can tell you stories about what they‘ve done and where they ‘ve been and who had one.”

Photos: There‘s nothing ‘Minor‘ about what‘s nestled behind the cab and between the rails of this Morris.

Tim says when he took the truck to Manfeild for the MG Classic race meeting last November, it attracted a lot of attention and everyone wanted to take photos.

“People came up to me and were telling me stories about what they did and what went on in the back of them in the day! Including one lady who told me about being a milk delivery girl and having a bit of fun in the back of the milk truck!”

Tim races a 1970 Begg FM4 Formula 5000 car and plans to use the truck to transport the car around the country. “It‘s a family owned car – one of many! My love affair with the Begg made me paint the truck the same colour and it‘s become part of the little team for when we go to classic race meetings and shows. It‘s a period truck with a period car.” Tim would like to acknowledge the help and support of his father, Terry Rush, in restoring the Morris.

“ Without my father it wouldn‘t be where it is. Basically, dad‘s help cleaning and polishing and taking rust off nuts and bolts has saved me a lot of time and it‘s been a great deal of fun to spend time with dad.”

Terry Rush is a long-time member of the Manawatu Car Club and was one of the original team who helped build Manfeild.

“ With dad‘s involvement with motor racing and so forth, I have petrol in my veins,” says Tim. “I drove a single seater around Manfeild at the age of four.”

The 1965 Morris FGK60 is sure to turn heads wherever it goes, something Tim says is not surprising.

“It‘s an oddball. I like oddball things and not everyone is stupid enough to own a Morris truck, let alone do what I‘ve done to it!”