Homestead Hotrod - By Miranda Kurpe

Homestead Hotrod - By Miranda Kurpe

It’s an incredible feeling when you see it for the first time.. The vehicle that sparks a fire inside you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a supercar or an old truck sitting in a field, the obsession takes hold of us all the same.

For Dan Morgan, this happened at 14. It was a 1935 Maple Leaf 1.5 ton grain truck. Now, this wasn’t just any truck, it was a special edition GMC made only for the Canadian market but more importantly, It was bought brand new by Dan’s Grandfather. 

The truck was purchased a year after Dan’s mother was born, so she had many fond memories including date nights with Dan’s father. The truck was put to work on the farm for many years, even doing long haul trips to Montana and BC. But all good things must come to an end (for now) and after 30 years of service the grain truck was retired to the field, where it sat undisturbed till Dans uncle took over the Family farm. Dan stumbled on the truck while visiting the family on the farm, He fell in love with it instantly. In that moment the fire was lit and he couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

It took a few years to get up the guts to ask his grandparents about it, but after encouragement from his parents and uncle he finally asked. At this point the truck was destined for the junkyard. His grandparents were so overjoyed to see his excitement and hear his plans that they gifted it to him! 

Dan was gifted the Maple Leaf in 1983, but it took a year to acquire the proper transportation to get her home. Dan reached out to his brother in law who owned a trucking company. The two of them went to the farm and hauled it home on the back of a semi truck! The Maple Leaf was quite the site on the back of the semi, Dan said that he could of sold it multiple times on that trip home. 

They brought it to his brother in laws shop, where Dan was renting a work space. Being a rolling mill operator at the time meant that he knew his way around metal work. 

Dan always knew exactly what he wanted for the truck, he even remembers discussing his plans for it with fellow members of the Edmonton Street Rod association before he actually acquired it. A local artist and friend Gerard Blommaert even drew up his idea on a bar napkin one night, and in 1992 Dan paid the same artist to do an official drawing of his concept. He still has both! 

Over the next few years Dan had used countless people to help with the project, but none of them could do it justice. This went back and fourth till 2007 when Dan got inspired and went crazy with it after going through his second divorce. At that time Dan met Dino, a custom metal fabricator who was able to make his dream take shape. The cab was extended 27 inches, chopped 5 inches and sectioned 3 inches from the middle. The doors were extended 3 inches and suicided, with hidden hinges and made to be remote operated. The box was meticulously built with an aluminum cover and the ability to tilt, in memory of his father. (Back in the day his father was working on the farm with his grandfather, his close uncle Ken and a family friend, they installed a hydraulic hand pump that could tilt the grain box to help with chores around the farm). 

After that, the Maple Leaf went to Dan’s garage where he played with it and collected parts. Over the next 13 years he fine tuned it, assembling and disassembling it over and over until it was perfect.

In 2021 the Maple Leaf was painted by Tim Fedoruk out of Sunnybrook AB. The paint was a custom blend created by Kevin at Carlson’s (Color Compass). After the paint was finished the Maple Leaf was officially assembled and Dan hit the road running. Putting 3,800 km’s on it that summer. Incredibly there was no tweaking or adjustments needed. Although he did admit to running out of gas once. I’ll tell you one thing, suicide doors do not make it easy to get out and push! 

There’s nowhere he wouldn’t take it, from his mother’s doctor appointments, to art galleries and car shows. The Maple Leaf is a staple for any occasion big or small!

For drivetrain Dan is running an aluminum Chevy LS2 crate engine designed for a 05-07 Corvette and a 4L65E Electronic 4 speed transmission. The only thing not modified is the front fenders, giving it that nostalgic feel. Dan also installed a computerized self levelling fully independent air suspension. With an independent front and rear, he can lower it to 2.5 inches off the ground. 

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article and photography by Miranda Kurpe (MNK Photography)

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