Storied Collections in Ward County: Village welcomes Model Ts, pickup conversion

Submitted Photo Melvin Narum is shown with his before and after 1924 Ford Model T, converted to a tractor car.

Out at Pioneer Village we have some pretty nice vintage vehicles with glossy paint. But then the Melvin Narum (Douglas) vintage car collection was donated 10 months ago.

He was a man who built his five cars in the ’70s and ’80s as if it was the Depression era. Working with a shoestring budget Melvin took incomplete cars found in barnyards and tree rows and worked his magic to get them running, adding parts he had and parts he bought or found.

If you come out to see these automobiles they will be located outside to be admired by those who appreciate work done by a very handy man.

1917 Ford Model T Touring Car

Melvin paid Clifford Farnstrom (Roseglen) $15 after spotting this car almost up to its door handles in chicken manure. After using parts Melvin had on hand and picking up other pieces, this car became one of his most cherished as he took it to drive in many parades. After loading the Model T on a trailer on his farm south of Douglas, he unloaded it at Hazen for a parade and was tickled pink when the engine still had compression and he didn’t have to hand crank to start the engine. He provided spark to the engine and with the piston in the right spot, she started right up. This car looks quite complete.

1920 Ford Model T Converted Car to Pickup

Melvin spied this Model T car in a tree row at the Albert Nordlum farm (Douglas) with the back end cut off. Because pickups were not assembled yet by automakers, many rural folks who needed a vehicle to haul goods would cut off a car body behind the front seat and add a wood or metal box. Melvin paid Marvin Olsen (Turtle Lake) $20 for a metal box to create a Model T pickup. Even though the television show, “The Beverly Hillbillies,” used an Oldsmobile pickup conversion, this vehicle, on display, looks a lot like the Hillbillies pickup truck.

1923 Ford Model T Truck

Melvin paid Forest Welch (Garrison) $1.25, it is said, for this commercial 1-ton truck then not in running order. The truck, when new, was a freight delivery truck in Minneapolis and has a larger truck bed with larger tires.

1924 Ford Model T Converted Car to Tractor Car

The picture with this article features this car with the optional rear steel wheels and heavier gears so a farmer could hook up implements for field work. Lugs would be bolted on to the wide, rear steel wheels for traction power. Remember the Johnny Cash song about building a car from various years and parts from a Ford/Lincoln plant? Melvin did the same using many different parts from different cars/vendors. He paid Lois McKinzie (Williston) $20 for tractor parts for this car. He officially registered it as a 1924 Ford car.

1932 Chevy Converted Car to Pickup

Melvin bought this car from family. His brother, Hilbert Narum (Douglas), bought the car originally from his sister-in-law, Margaret Scurlock (Rice Lake). It was considered Hilbert’s courting car. Melvin paid Hilbert $50, and it was his first running vintage car purchase. The back of the car was cut off and a wood box made to convert it to a pickup type car.

Melvin’s daughter-in-law, Jeanie Narum, donated the collection, and we thank her.


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