Going Back to the ‘50s in a Homebuilt Hot Rod Effie

February 2nd, 2011

Text and Photos by Travis Noack

Owner: Clayton and Deborah Lashley, 1953 Ford F-100, Newalla, OK

Back in the early days of hot rodding enthusiasts put together their rocket of choice within the confines of a two-car garage, or they wrenched out in the open, right in the driveway. Making your performance dreams come true was a matter of pulling together your buddies, sharpening your skills, and just going for it. No fancy tools, no unlimited budget and no fully equipped shop—just a bucket-load of determination and a vision. Some of the coolest hot rods around today were built at home in the garage with the owner spinning the wrenches. Clayton Lashley of Newalla, Oklahoma, is a diehard hot rodder who has held the titles to a ’57 Ford two-door wagon, a ’34 Plymouth coupe and a ’37 Ford coupe. When it came time for Clayton to build a new project he wanted “a hot rod with a bed” so he located a ’53 F-100 slant cab, and friends Dave Griner, Dustin Lashley (son), Doug Boowning, Jon Barrett and Roy England spun wrenches in the evenings and on weekends with Clayton to complete his truck. The neat part about this build is the grassroots nature of the project, which used a ton of OEM parts borrowed from different vehicles, and the fact that Clayton and his friends did all of the work short of the interior.

The team of six got the truck down to cruising altitude with a 2-inch dropped axle up front suspended by reversed eye front springs from Mid-Fifty’s; a 1957 Ford rearend suspended with 1981 Chevy truck leaf springs mildly drops the tail end. Disc brakes and a master cylinder from a Ford Fairmont contribute the stopping power, while an 1984 Toyota pickup steering box hooked to an early ‘60s Oldsmobile steering column commands the retro rolling stock. Planted under the Effie’s 57-year-old fenders are 15 x 5.5-inch front and 15 x 8-inch rear Wheel Vintiques powder-coated Ford steelies, with chrome trim rings and nipple caps, mounted on P215/70R15 front and P265/75R15 rear wide whites from Whitewall Candy Store. A 16-gallon fuel cell feeds the beastly 331 Chrysler sandwiched between the ‘rails.

A look under the hood of this homebuilt classic provides instant time travel as a chromed and detailed 1955 331-ci Chrysler mill stares right back. Dale Smith of McLoud, Oklahoma, did the machining, while Roy England of McLoud assembled the 330-hp mill. Egge Machine pistons found their way inside the massaged walls, while an Iskendarian cam kicks out the Chrysler’s best growl. A four-barrel Hot Heads manifold and Holley 600 inhale octane cocktails, and the stock cast iron heads with 202 intake valves and 175 exhaust valves let the mill inhale and exhale properly. A Dodge 360 Pertronix distributor and Super Coil spark things up, while cast iron manifolds and aluminized exhaust with Hooker mufflers echo the performance. Stock chromed valve covers, a Helmet chrome air cleaner, aluminum Hot Heads pulleys, a chrome alternator and A/C compressor dress the doghouse, as a white firewall laden with pinstriping provides the perfect backdrop for the detailed powerhouse. A 1990 Chevy 700R4 transmission fit with a TCI 2500 stall speed converter provides some modern cruising for the classic package.

When it came time to modify the metal, Clayton employed some timeless mods. The factory hood was sectioned 1-inch to bring the height down a notch. The front fenders were sectioned and the opening was closed 1 ½ inches to tighten up the area around the wheels and tires. In the rear, 1937 Ford taillights were integrated into the picture and the tailgate was modified. In the cab region, the top was chopped 1-inch, the door corners were rounded and the gas filler opening was welded up. On the box, Clayton welded up the stake pockets, and he welded in an inner bed skin from a late model Chevy pickup to serve as the hauling platform. One-piece glass further smoothes the door region. After the bodywork was straight and the metal was smoothed, Clayton loaded his spray gun with PPG Orange and breathed new life into the old metal. Ron Myers followed with his pinstriping brush to apply the timeless black pins popping off of the orange base.

Between the doors it’s pure retro at its finest with a custom dash fit with a 1962 Fairlane instrument cluster welded up and integrated by Clayton. Action Auto Trim in Midwest City, Oklahoma, stitched up the black and white threads on the factory seat and tacked down the black loop carpet. The dash was painted a combination of black and white to match the seats, while an early ‘60s Oldsmobile steering wheel steers the retro art. An aftermarket under-dash A/C unit keeps cruising temps in check, while the factory heater box lends an OEM touch under the dash.

Clayton built this truck in his garage with his family and friends spinning wrenches and fueling the build progress. Beginning with a $250 truck, Clayton has invested a total of $19,000, keeping the number relatively low by doing much of the work himself with the help of friends and his son Dustin. There is nothing quite like building a hot rod, and after all of the busted knuckles, cranking the key and driving your creation down the highway is the satisfying cap to a job well done. Something tells us this Effie will be a permanent fixture in the Lashley garage.

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