Humberto Ortiz November 19, 2021 All Feature Vehicles
There comes a time in life when a person starts to think about their future in a different way. Sometimes a young man decides it’s time to leave an impression on the people around him and his peers, or maybe start that legacy people will be talking about for years to come. For Ross Nichols, the journey to his family’s legacy was started years ago and in more than a few ways. This sleek black Ranger on these pages is just one of them.
Ross, a dedicated gearhead, has always had a passion for anything mechanical. He found himself spending lots of time with his Grandpa Jack as a kid. This is where his passion and training began. Then it was reinforced through an automotive program in high school and advanced at the Universal Technical Institute in Orlando, Florida. Soon after, Ross spent time turning wrenches and gaining experience in the industry by working for a couple different restoration shops in his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. This is where the true desire to become an entrepreneur and a leader in his community came into play. Naming it after his grandpa, Ross started Jack’s Speed Shop in 2015, and ever since he has set out to build that name into something everyone recognizes and trusts.
With a few years of running his own shop and a build or two under his belt, Ross was looking for the next big project to help advertise his shop and his full capabilities. He looked at an old project he picked up from a company he used to work for years ago. It was a ’69 F-100 Ranger that showed potential. So, Ross dragged it into the shop and started brainstorming. It wasn’t long after that he enlisted the advice of Jimmy Bullard from MRC Fabrication to get some insight on a good chassis for the build.
“It wasn’t long after that, when the project just sort of snowballed,” Ross admits.
If you spend the time to observe an MRC chassis, you’ll know what he’s talking about. This chassis shop happens to be located in North Carolina, which we all know to be a hub for a certain racing industry. It’s no surprise when you see the racing influence in one of Jimmy’s chassis. The underpinnings of the F-100 are a combination of 2×4-inch rectangular tubing and laser cut plate to form the independent front and rear suspension chassis. Using a Flaming River rack and billet spindles up front, combined with IRS components from the Drive Shaft Shop in the rear, and tubular arms with specifically designed geometry, this chassis boasts almost zero camber change and no bump steer. Keeping this truck body low and stable to the ground are a set of hydraulic shocks from Mittler Bros. Machine and Tool. These HydroShox are a specifically designed coilover with a hydraulic reservoir that makes it possible to adjust the ride height a few inches without compromising the ride quality and keeping an aggressive chassis tune ready for high horsepower.
Speaking of horsepower, when Ross decided he wanted to move this F-100 and test out this suspension, he wasted no time matching a Ford powerplant for the project. Choosing to build a 5.0L Coyote was only the first task. Jack’s Speed Shop decided to build a twin turbo monster that would not only stimulate you audibly but would do the trick visually as well. LM Engines in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, sleeved and reinforced the short block while outfitting it with diamond forged pistons, Manley Forged I-beam rods and custom grind Comp Cams all to manage the extra boost. Then Jack’s Speed Shop added the sleek Plazmaman aluminum intake, and had Nick Oberley (Ross’ cousin) fab up some of the sickest headers and turbo piping ever seen on a Coyote. To finish off the engine bay in killer form are a set of Garret mirrored GTX3582R 66mm turbos. All this power is managed through a Ford 6R80 six-speed automatic transmission with billet internals and a Circle D billet torque converter. Then the built trans transfers the massive amounts of power left to the Drive Shaft Shop IRS differential with 3.50 gears. Finishing off this wicked drivetrain and giving it its tone is the custom 3-inch stainless steel exhaust built in-house at Jack’s Speed Shop. All of this and you can easily see why it was our winning choice to grace the cover of this Performance Special Issue!
Looking at the exterior of the truck is just as pleasing. Ross went with an Akzo Nobel custom paint color named Black Hole Black and offset it simply with the factory stainless and chrome trim, giving it an unassuming but quite intimidating look. Rob Jowsay of Auto Craft Auto Body was the man in charge of streamlining this truck and spraying it. A Munssey Speed fiberglass smooth bumper was used for the front, but Ross did decide to smooth out the license plate recess for a cleaner look. Adding to the exterior is the intricate custom sheetmetal bed floor fabricated by Jack’s Speed Shop. Finishing off the ominous look of the exterior are the smooth black powdercoated wheels by Detroit Steel Wheels, measuring 20×9 up front and a massive 20×14 inches out back. With such a staggered wheel combo, Ross had to find the correct tires and chose a Michelin Pilot Sport and Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R respectively. Hiding behind those modest wheels are a massive set of Wilwood Forged Superlite 14-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers all controlled by the Wilwood tandem aluminum master cylinder mounted on the firewall.
With such a performance-inspired build, you have to wonder what the interior looks like. Well, like a race truck no less, starting with the Momo race buckets and steering wheel, and then continuing with the pro-street style roll bar. A console was built to house a few gauges, switches and the Lokar shifter. Instrumentation is in its stock location but modernized with the Dakota Digital HDX display. The audio is supplied by a RetroSound head unit and Kicker Audio component speakers and sub. A Vintage Air unit was installed to keep the two passengers at a comfortable temperature when speeding down the highway. Marquarts Custom Creations did a great job with this cockpit.
This F-100 was built in eight months’ time at Jack’s Speed Shop and poised to stand out from the sea of run-of-the-mill builds. He debuted the truck with Mittler Bros. at the 2019 SEMA Show and received high praise from most, even receiving a Ford Design Award for the truck. Ross states he learned a few things from this build, like determination and problem-solving skills. But he also discovered something else.
“We learned what we are made of,” he says.
Legacies aren’t something handed down or created with one venture, however. Ross just may have the right beginnings to making his grandpa’s name something we all remember.
Jack’s Speed Shop, builder
1969 F-100 Ranger
Fort Wayne, Indiana