Humberto Ortiz July 08, 2021 All Feature Vehicles
The F-100 Series is an undoubtedly popular truck, especially for custom truck enthusiasts, but then the question of which generation makes the best hot rod arises. For years the aftermarket has leaned heavily on the ’53-’56 trucks, but with changing trends come new ideas for later bodies. For as long as Randy East can remember, he has wanted to build a fourth generation F-100 into a street machine with modern flare while keeping traditional lines. He has owned a few mid 60s trucks in the past, but none were overly built. So naturally Randy wanted to see what he could do on a new build and push it a little farther than he had in the past.
Randy started by pulling the truck out of a local salvage yard. It was a pretty plain truck, but that didn’t last long. As he began to plan out his project, he knew he would have big modern power pushing this old iron down the road, and so the chassis needed to be upgraded to handle the task. Taking the truck to Fred’s Old Fords Inc. in his own town of Rockmart, Georgia, was the first thing he did. Freddy McFall began the task of modernizing the chassis for its new drivetrain. Freddy made a call to Fatman Fabrication in North Carolina to supply him with the Mustang II independent front suspension, then with a four-link rear suspension to handle the torque and finally adding the QA1 coilovers at each corner to handle the dampening of this ride.
When it was time to work the body panels and lay the finish on the F-100, Randy trusted Tony McAlister with Mac’s Hot Rod Shop, another local guy, to do the job. Randy was adamant about keeping the sleek original body lines Ford had constructed, but he did want to smooth things out a bit. They started with the stake hole pockets in the bed and removed the rear bumper in favor of a much smoother and streamlined rear roll pan. They then smoothed the front bumper, trimmed up the edges and finally tucked it in nice and tight to the body to eliminate those ugly gaps. To conclude the overall smooth look, they opted to remove all the factory badging from the body and prep things like the front grille and bumper for paint to give the truck an overall uniform look.
After hours upon hours of rust repair, metal work and body prep, it was time to pick a color. Randy stated he wanted a bright blue Ford color, but he trusted the professional opinion of his painter and went with a modified BMW silver. To add a little contrast to the overall look, they painted the inner fender wells black and gave the bed floor a textured liner. Additionally, the grille was painted a darker color and, to break up the large metal canvas, Tony painted a custom stripe on the lower body and included the word “Coyote” to entice the wondering minds.
What are we wondering about, you ask? The powertrain of course! Randy did what he had wanted to do for years and wedged a Ford 5.0L Coyote from Aroson Motorsports in between the frame rails. Then backed it up with a heavy duty 4R70W automatic transmission from Performance Automatic, which also supplied the computer controller to get it dialed in to the Coyote V-8. A custom driveshaft ties the power to the Ford 9-inch rear end via the Currie Enterprises-built third member, carrying a stout Detroit Locker with 4.11 gears and custom axles. Not to be overlooked, Randy knew with this kind of power, an equal amount of stopping power would be needed. So, Freddy installed the large diameter brakes from Wilwood, utilizing a six-piston caliper up front and a four-piston on the rear, each with a cross-drilled and slotted rotor to help with the heat dissipation in those heavy braking applications.
To cap off the look of this silver Coyote, Randy selected a set of Coy’s five-spoke wheels. Matching the paint, the wheels have a silver center and machined wheel lip, running 18×8 on all four corners. Trusting all this acceleration and road contact is a set of Bridgestones in a staggered width to give a little more bite on the rear axle.
Finishing off this project is the custom interior. Not to be held back at this juncture in the project, Randy spared no expense here as well. Mac’s Hot Rod Shop smoothed the dash and added a lower skirt where all the control knobs would be housed along with the A/C vents. Then they coordinated the dash’s color with the same two-tone silver as the exterior with matching stripe reading “Coyote.” Using seats with a center console from Glide Industries, Wilson’s Upholstery covered them in black leather along with the door panels and Billet Specialties steering wheel. To make things more comfortable, a tilt column was added along with a ventilation system from Vintage Air. The dash is filled with modern electronics including the Classic Instruments Nostalgia VT series gauges and the Kenwood sound system. Randy learned a lot during this project.
“There is definitely a difference between putting a project together and putting a project together to use,” he says.
I would agree that there is a prodigious difference between the two. He has discovered that without spending the right money on the right parts, you leave yourself with an unfinished product. Additionally, Randy would be the first to state that maybe this project went a little too far, but I would argue how do you know if it is too far if you never get there? When you realize there are no shortcuts and it isn’t right to do anything just halfway, then most of the time you can count on building something others would think is overdone. Well, we don’t need that kind of negativity around here! Keep on building those dreams.
You ever go by another person’s ride or project and think of the things you would do differently if you owned it? Of course you have! I know for a fact David Hudson did when he saw a local hot rodder with a 1956 panel truck sitting in his garage for the better part of 30 years. David says the local man and his wife were both schoolteachers years ago, and in the summers, they used to load up and travel the country in it. Well, as much as he liked seeing the couple use that panel truck, he thought it would be pretty cool if he could put his own touches on that F-100 panel to make it his own. So, that’s exactly what he did.
David took ownership of the panel truck, but by that time it had been torn down and was actually far from the truck he had remembered. The truck had been parked since the mid ’80s. When he received it, it was no longer in complete running order and had seen better days. However, since it sat in a garage for so long, the truck was virtually rust free. This allowed David to skip a lot of the rust repair most people encounter with a mid-’50s build. His first thought was to take the unnatural Chevy drivetrain out and do a proper Ford powered build. He also wanted to redo a few things the previous owner had done and talked about showing the beauty of the original Ford body lines.
David started by taking the truck back apart to redo the chassis. The previous owner had installed a Chevy car clip, and that just had to go. David Sourced out another F-100 clip and reattached it, then he boxed in the entire frame for strength. After doing so, he found a front crossmember from a Crown Vic and used it as his updated front suspension. Since the donor car’s crossmember comes with all the suspension, steering and brakes, he was all set up front. Out back, he reused the factory leaf springs and positioned a Mustang rear axle from a 2012 Shelby. This guaranteed him strength for the added horsepower he planned for, and larger disc brakes to help slow down this bread box when needed. To keep all this suspension under control, he chose QA1 shocks for the job on all four corners.
David knew he wouldn’t let this F-100 roll under any other power except Ford, so he started to do his research and put in an order to Midway Mustang in DeWitt, Iowa. This is where he sourced the rear axle from a 2012 Shelby Mustang, but he also bought the complete drivetrain from there as well. He chose a powerful 5.4L Ford Racing SVT crate engine that is powered by an Eaton supercharger with integral intercooler and backed by the Shelby six-speed manual transmission. After David mounted the modern drivetrain, he built a custom Magnaflow exhaust to give it the right tone, exiting the tailpipes through the rear fenders just before the tire.
When it came to the body and metal work, David was both relieved and frustrated with the truck. As stated before, the panel sat in an enclosed garage for about 30 years. However, the truck’s previous owner had taken it apart and done some custom work that was just not David’s style. So, David once again had to source out a bunch of body parts to complete this project. He wanted to go with a more traditional look, the way Ford had produced it. Perhaps the only thing on the sheetmetal he really changed was the front wheel well openings. They were moved up about 3 inches, then forward about 4 inches. This helped center the wheel and give it a lighter, more streamline appearance to match the rear. Stock pieces like door handles, the front grille and the smooth stainless bumpers were all sourced and put back like stock. To add a personal custom touch, a few snake badges off the Shelby GT were added very tastefully.
When it came time to lay down the color, David had gone to a local paint store and chose a gray color. When they shot a test panel, it revealed to be too white for his taste. So, after several long hours back at his local paint store, they were able to come up with a custom mixed gray for the panel truck. When asked to name it David replied, “Geez, there must be 50 shades of gray in there,” and it stuck. Now that the color had been perfected David let his nephew, Eddy Hudson, lay down the shine.
Completely painted and ready for its final assembly, it was time to match a set of wheels to this newborn hotrod. Keeping things classy and adding a little bit of sport, David chose a set of Ford Shelby SVT aluminum wheels in a 19×10 for the front and 20×13 for the rear. Needing to keep this box glued to the ground, a set of Continental Extreme Contact tires were wrapped around the Shelby wheels, giving this F-100 panel a real thick look and perhaps foreshadowing the potential under the hood for those who were wondering.
The last piece of this restoration, but perhaps the largest, was the interior. Being a panel truck adds quite a bit of cubic feet to an interior. David entrusted Gary Hodge of A&G Upholstery in Elkview, West Virginia, to take on the task. Wanting to be subtle and not too loud, David instructed Gary to go with more tones of—you guessed it—gray! Utilizing yards of leather and tweed, the factory bench seat was covered along with the door panels, head liner, rear panel sides and rear roof. Details were added to the drivers compartment like the Ididit steering column topped off with a wood grain banjo steering wheel, and the matching Classic Instruments factory replacement gauge cluster. The floor of the cargo area steals the show. David laid down planks of rich oak with stainless steel strips to make a custom floor that would no longer be carrying the load of a work truck.
Wrapping up this colossal project within two years was no small task. That’s why David and his soon-to-be wife, Jeanie, set a goal to have this truck ready to debut at the Grand National F-100 Reunion put on by Joe Carpenter in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Not only were they to announce their project, but Jeanie actually called Joe to ask permission to be married at the show and announce their nuptials as well!
Hats off to a gentleman who can score a 1956 F-100 panel truck and a woman who wants to be married by it at a truck show! Best of luck to their future in hot-rodding—and marriage.
1964 Ford F-100
David and Jeanie Hudson
1956 Ford F-100 Panel Marmet, WV