Dan Gingell has always been a tinkerer. He doesn’t like to go long without a special project in the corner of his shop, and he’s constantly dreaming up new ideas. After a couple of successful flathead V8 conversions, Dan was ready for a new challenge.
Inspiration struck after a visit to a local salvage yard. “It’s just filled with Chevy V6s,” Dan reported. “Everyone around here [near Flint, Michigan] used to work for GM, so the local junkyards are loaded with old Chevys.” Dan selected a 4.3 liter Chevy V6 from an unlikely source – a 1985 Astro Van. Dan explains that he wanted the older model to avoid a fuel-injected system. Why from an Astro Van? “They’ve got hundreds of them!” he explained. “If I took it out of the van, it was a better deal.” Dan loaded up the motor and started dreaming on his way back home.
Unlike a flatehead V8, Dan found that the V6 fit inside his 1951 8N without any structural adjustments – the hood and tie-rods remained the same. Dan upgraded to a racecar-style MSD ignition and used a 4-barrel Holley carburetor. The most difficult challenge was in the clutch. “Ford and Chevy just don’t get along!” Dan explained. With the help of his father-in-law, a skilled machinist, Dan custom-made a pilot bearing to attach the clutch.
While the gas tank was shrunk to accommodate the larger engine, the original fan and radiator remained intact. Exhaust comes straight off the engine – a real attention getter! The tractor gets hot fast, as you’d expect from a showstopper like this. All told, this 8N emerged from the shop jam-packed with around 200 horsepower under the hood.
Dan’s daughter, Rachel, started to get a little jealous. With the National Ford-Fordson Collectors Association Show coming up soon, Rachel started asking for a special tractor of her own to take. “I’ve wanted a pink tractor for years,” she explained. After finding a 1953 Golden Jubilee in desperate need of a paint job, Rachel knew she had the perfect opportunity – if she could just convince her dad. Eventually she got him to agree to the job, as long as Rachel promised to help along the way.
The first step was finding pink paint. When Rachel told the salesman at the local auto body shop that she wanted to buy some pink paint, he gave her a skeptical look. “This isn’t for one of your dad’s tractors, is it?” he asked. Rachel’s guilty smile prompted him to add, “Don’t answer that,” as he turned to mix the paint.
Dan and Rachel worked together to complete the paint job, using standard Ford grey alongside the custom pink paint. Even the Ford script and the lug nuts were hand-painted pink. The finishing touch, contributed by Rachel’s mother, Jennifer, was leather fringe eyelashes under the headlight beauty rings.
Both tractors were on display at Buckley’s Ford National show a couple years ago, where they were crowd favorites.
By Elizabeth McAdams