Wendy Wilson January 24, 2022 All Feature Vehicles
Fathers teach a lot to their sons—when to throw a punch, how to hold their liquor, what to look for in used cars, when to change the oil in the ol’ truck—and sometimes, without even trying, they pass down the stuff that really matters.
The best part of the buildup was enjoying the time with my dad, grandpa and uncle, building it when I was a teenager. —Jake Bryant
Our story begins with Jerry Bryant, the father in this dynamic unibody duo. He lives in Antelope, California, a cozy suburb of Sacramento’s Sierra Nevada foothills, and works as an acoustical ceiling installer. More than 30 years ago, he found himself coveting a friend’s 1963 F-100 Unibody with a big wraparound back window, and he had to have one for himself.
“I really liked the look of it,” Jerry shared. “So, I found one and got to work on it.”
This Unibody’s powerplant is a 1971 Ford V-8 built by Parrish Engines of Sacramento. The 351 Windsor features hypereutectic pistons with a 9:1 compression ratio, an Edelbrock RPM camshaft and intake manifold, Holley Street Avenger carburetor, Hedman Headers exiting through a Flowmaster 2.5-inch exhaust. With a nod to L&L Transmission of Sacramento, the truck’s transmission is a 1979 Ford c6 with a B&M Shifter. Its custom torque converter is a TCI Saturday Night Special with a stall speed of 2500.
The driveshaft, brakes and master cylinder come from a 1979 F-100, and the rear axles via an F-100 9-inch. Other drivetrain mods include Dutchman 31 spline axles.
Jerry modified the chassis and frame himself. He used a 1965 F-100 as its base, and added ’79 F-100 radius arms, front springs and steering box. It rides on Wheel Vintique’s 15×7- and 15×8-inch wheels wrapped in Cooper Cobra tires. Inside, Jerry’s Unibody is decked out in green and blue vintage tweed on a bench seat from a 1992 Chevy 1500, thanks to the work of Kenny Brazelton of Colfax, California. The gauges and instruments are stock 1963, except for the stereo, which has been converted to an MP3 player.
The F-100’s custom bodywork—including shaved bed pockets and body seams—sets off the stock grille and bumpers. The pinstriping was done by Poor Boy Lefty from Sacramento. But the real showstopper is the stock Caribbean Green with a metal flake base coat and clear coat, which was painted by Jerry’s son, Jake.
Evenings, weekends and any time they could get, Jake, his dad, grandfather and uncle worked on the kid’s ’61 Unibody.
“The Roth Metal Flake paint job is the truck’s most unique feature,” Jerry says.
The only thing he’d change on it is the engine. “One of these days, I’m going to put in the 460 Ford I have waiting,” Jerry says. “If I were to build something like this again, I’d start with a stock, rust-free truck, because this one had lots of rust. And trim parts are impossible to find!”
Jerry notes his main challenge in this build was time and money. “I wanted to put my family first, to be a dad first,” he says. “And then find time for my toys.”
While Jerry’s Big Back Window Unibody slowly came together, he and his wife, Rebecca, had a son named Jacob—Jake for short. For Jake’s 15th birthday, his truck-loving pop bought him a 1961 F-100 Unibody.
wanted mine to match his,” Jake says. “And it took me two years on the full to build, plus 20 years of changes and upgrades. There’s a reason why I became a mechanic by trade!”
Evenings, weekends and any time they could get, Jake, his dad, grandfather and uncle worked on the kid’s ’61 Unibody. The elder Bryants passed their knowledge and wisdom to Jake—and it’s something he says he’ll never forget.
“The best part of the buildup was enjoying the time with my dad, grandpa and uncle, building it when I was a teenager,” Jake says. “I learned everything from them! I was a young kid, and the entire thing, the whole time, was a learning experience for me.”
More than $50,000 and 20 years later, Jake and his wife, Ashley, who now make their home in North Highlands, California, have a sweet classic cruiser.
The engine, built by Jake and his pal Rick George, is a 1974 Chevy Big Block V-8, 454 .40 over. It features SRP pistons with a 10.5:1 compression ratio, steel crank and ARP bolts, a Big Mother Thumper roller and an Edelbrock intake manifold.
The carburetor is a Demon 750cc, headers are by Patriot, and the exhaust system is a 3-inch Flowmaster that exits at the rear axle. Other engine mods include a high floor T start/pump, high-performance power steering pump and a high-volume fuel pump.
L&L Transmission prepped a 1990 Chevy 4L 80E transmission for Jake’s Unibody as well. Mods include a manual valve body and 3500 lock up stall converter. The trans cooler and shift kit are by B&M, and the shifter is from Lokar. Jake installed a custom torque from PDQ Torque Converters in Sacramento. To bring the truck to a stop, Jake installed 1976 Camaro brakes on the front and 1963 F-100 brakes on the rear, along with a 1979 Ford F-100 Master Booster master cylinder.
With the help of uncle Clyde Brown, Jake’s F-100 frame is a 1958 Chevy with a 1976 Camaro Clip. The front springs are stock from a 1976 Camaro, and the rear sports a CCP axle flip/lowering kit. Both the rear springs and shocks are from Summit Racing and the truck rides on Vintage 15×6 and 15×8 wheels wrapped in BFG tires.
Inside the cab, Jake used Autometer instruments and gauges. He custom built the cluster out of two stock panels to fit all four small gauges next to a 150 speedometer. He also included a red flake steering wheel.
The ’61’s custom bodywork includes shaved bed pockets, shaved cowl vent and Frenched antenna, along with a stock grille and stock bumpers. The paint—Black and clear—was done by Jake, Poor Boy Lefty did the pinstriping, and Eric Foust hand painted the door logo in red, white and silver.
“It had lots of rust to repair, so I had to wait for my paycheck to buy parts,” Jake recalls with a laugh. “But I bought a clean 1963 F-100 and cut it apart for patch panels.”
The changes Jake plans to make include a four-link and an interior re-do. “The interior is about 15 years old, and it’s time,” he says.
Jerry and Jake, both members of the Alley Cats Carclub in Sacramento, attend the same events, including All Cats’ Night of Revving Dead show, Sacramento Poor Boys Midnight Mass, Summit Racing Show and Viva Las Vegas.
They’ve bonded over their trucks, just as Jerry had envisioned decades ago. But besides passing down an appreciation for F-100s and custom trucks, Jerry passed down something even more important—an appreciation for family.
“If I had to give advice to someone thinking of building a similar truck, do it!” Jake says. “It’s a great experience and a fun family-bonding experience. I built this truck at home, in the garage, with the help of my family.”
That’s something he’ll remember forever, and maybe even pass down to the next generation.
1963 F-100 Unibody, Big Back Window
Jacob “Jake” Bryant
1961 F-100 Unibody
North Highlands, California