Video: Truck pulling with The Professor

By: Matt Wood

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While on his quest for tractor-pulling glory, Matt Wood catches up with Ross Simpson and his 1970 Toyota Crown – a unique contender in the two-wheel-drive truck pull class


I’VE SEEN a few tribute cars over the years. Tributes to fathers, sons, daughters and grandparents. They’ve been vans, rods, trucks, muscle cars and street machines.

But I have to confess that to date I’ve never come across a tribute pull truck. Until now, that is.

Melbourne-based Ross Simpson took 18 years to turn his father’s 1970 Toyota Crown into a one-of-a-kind, tyre-creasing pull-truck dubbed ‘The Professor’.

Ross’s dad was a Valiant man back in the 1960s and fond of towing a caravan. The deal with the Toyota salesman back in 1970, when he was looking at trading up, was that the Crown had to be able to drag the family caravan to the top of Wheelers Hill in Melbourne’s East.

The Toyota dragged the van up the hill on Ferntree Gully Rd with ease, so the old man traded his trusty old Val on the shiny new Crown.

Decades later, in the years following the death of Ross’s dad, the Crown’s body was taken back to bare metal and, underneath, a whole new world of chassis modification and strengthening took shape.

The journey from van hauler to sled hauler was a long and arduous task. The result, however, is a very unique pull truck indeed. 

The Aussie two-wheel-drive truck class is home to big-dollar, purpose-built bangers imported from the US as well as a few homegrown heroes. But, in what is a quite uniquely Australian set up, the Crown runs a bus diff with planetary gears, an overdrive Road Ranger truck gearbox and a Powerglide transmission.

Under the bonnet lies a 700hp 427 Chev small block, which is unusual in this big-block-dominated class. Fuel delivery is via a sprint-car-style injection system and the 427 is running a pretty hefty 14.5:1 compression ratio.

Given its mission is to haul heavy things this donk makes a healthy 636lb/ft of twisty force.

Vehicles in the truck class have the sled hitch located above the back wheels. As a result they often roar down the track with the front wheels in the air, so Ross has added 300kg to the front of the Crown to make it a little easier to take it down the track in a straight line.

The result of all this is a dirt-slinging unique sled puller that certainly sounds the biz in full-flight.

"It’s been a challenge," says Ross with a wry grin, "and a learning curve for all of us."

Dad would be proud!

 

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