Classic Lines With Pro Touring Prowess

March 15th, 2011

Text and Photos by Travis Noack

Scott and Susan Gifford, 1968 Ford F-100, Valley Head, AL

It’s no secret that trucks that can hang a corner and dice through the cones have taken off like wildfire. Why should the muscle car guys have all the fun? After all, most trucks are plentiful and a lot more affordable to get into than an early Chevelle or Camaro. If you have the skills to turn your own wrenches, and in some cases build your own parts, a little sweat equity can push your project to new levels. Scott Gifford of Valley Head, Alabama, is a machinist by trade and has been a custom truck and hot rod enthusiast for the past 25 years. He had always had a soft spot for the 1967-72 Ford F-100 pickups because his dad had one and Scott remembers riding shotgun as a kid. One afternoon on the way home from his machine shop, Scott spotted a well-worn ’68 F-100 sitting in a local junkyard. He had driven by the truck several times before and often thought about stopping, but something was telling him today was the day to ask about the old workhorse. He learned that the truck was destined for the crusher the next day, so without hesitation he pulled a crisp $100 bill from his wallet and the Ford was his.

After stripping the truck down to its bare bones, Scott welded in a Mustang II front cross member, Z’d the front frame rails and boxed the frame for strength and rigidity. The original rearend was narrowed and stuffed with Moser axles and 3.73:1 gears before being shoved back under the truck with leaf springs and a block, getting the stance down in the rear. To plant the nose low for highway cruising and tight cornering, QA1 coil-overs and big Wilwood binders were mounted for modern control and performance. One of the things that impressed us most about Scott’s truck is its ultra-low ride height with no air suspension components. Scott’s “drive it low” motto is supported by 17 x 8-inch front and 18 x 10-inch rear American Racing Shelby wheels mounted on Nitto P235/45ZR17 front and P285/50R18 rear tires. A 13-gallon fuel cell was mounted in front of the rear axle to feed the warmed over 360.

To power this low rolling hot rod pickup, a ’68 Ford FE 360-ci mill was located and delivered to Donald Ratliff and Leon Crane in Valley Head for assembly. A Crane camshaft was installed to handle rumbling chores, while a Holley 790-cfm carburetor delivers fuel to the thirsty mill. Hedman headers and a Magnaflow muffler kick spent fumes out the door with authority, as the piston-pumping performance is laid down with a C-6 transmission stuffed with a 2000 stall speed converter, all commanded via a Lokar joystick. A Painless wiring harness makes the electrical connections, while a serpentine pulley system keeps everything operating smoothly. When all was said and done, the Blue Oval mill spits out about 350 hp, which is perfect for highway flogging, track punishing and fairground cruising.

Getting the body straight, slick and smooth was also a top priority on Scott’s list. With an eye for detail and the skills to back it up, he went to work chiseling the old Ford into a masterpiece. The grille shell was welded up into one solid piece, and a 1974 F-100 hood was mounted up to throw the eye. A full custom front bumper carved from an original 1980 Ford van bumper was mounted up front and tucked into the sheet metal back drop. In the rear, Scott built a one-off custom bumper tucked neatly into the hand-formed body pockets.

Since Scott is a machinist, it’s no surprise that there are several handbuilt billet goodies on the truck. Custom billet door handles and mirrors dipped in chrome accent the truck’s midriff, while custom-made polished billet side trim hits below the belt line. Shaved seams, drip rails and fuel door further smooth the envelope, while the factory V-body line was flattened for a more subtle presentation. After the metalwork and bodywork were all tightened down, Scott topped the rejuvenated metal with DuPont Code F8384 Blue and color-sanded and polished the hue to a deep shine before the truck was flanked with fresh bright work.

To wrap up the four-year rebirth of this once-gutted pickup, Scott delivered the truck to upholsterer Wilson Bros. of Rockmart, Georgia. A pair of 2003 Saab bucket seats was stitched in a combination of Toffee vinyl and faux leather. The dash was topped with a custom pad stitched with Toffee vinyl by Scott and Wilson Bros. Auto Meter gauges provide the performance report, while a Summit Racing wood grain steering wheel allows Scott to point and shoot the truck with a firm grip. Modern conveniences include Electric Life power windows, a Vintage Air A/C unit and Painless wiring. A Pioneer head unit delivers musical selections to a Power Acoustic amplifier and on down to Power Acoustic tweeters, Memphis Audio mids, a Fosgate subwoofer and assorted Rockford Fosgate speakers in the lower kick panels, behind the seats and in the B-pillar panels. Chris Stokes worked with Scott to install all of the audio equipment and build the enclosure for the Rockford subwoofer.

Since its completion Scott has shown the “G Ford” at both the F-100 Supernationals and Shades of the Past. The truck has received tons of attention due to its aggressive stance and one-off tricks. We wonder what Scott will save from the local junkyard’s crusher next?

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