First Hand Account
by: Marty Perkins
Nearly seven years ago I brought home a rusty hulk that had in a former life been a 1949 Ford F1 pickup. It really was a pathetic thing wasting away with a small oak tree growing up right through the bed.
The front clip lay on the ground a few feet away from where it should have been. I had no idea what I was going to end up with, as I'd never built a vehicle modified for the eye before. All my past endeavors had been purely hotrod muscle in nature. All I knew was that I had never undertaken a project this big.
I removed the 1961 390 mill and 3 speed trans that was installed in the beast's midlife crisis years. That, the original '49 rear, and the entire front suspension went to a friend with a similar project. I stripped the frame, sandblasted it, patched myriad holes and ancient torchings, and chopped off the rear four feet.
I fashioned my own rear frame from 2x4 tubing and built a mustang front suspension and crossmember. A friend's deceased '75 mustang donated arms, power rack, spindles, struts, and all the necessary geometry lessons. Since the truck was 3" wider than the mustang.
I used another rack and built inserts to lengthen the rack at the tie rod pivots. Sway bar end bushings and strut rubbers were replaced with ball ends. The frame was finished off with black iso-acrylic enamel.
I chopped a Ford 9" rear end from a '67 Fairlane and added large bearing ends. Then came custom mounts for the AVO coil-overs and the brackets for the uneven four-link suspension from Ron Baker Racecars. Ron was nice enough to let me use his facility and specialty tooling to shorten the rear myself.
The cab was a wreck. A whole new floor was in order and after some 21 fabricated patch panels, it's integrity was restored. I replaced the bottom third of both doors too since they had seen better days.
Then came the fun. I had never chopped a top before and figured it could be rather serious if I messed up. I found no less than a dozen articles, half of which contradicted each other, and I spoke to professional body men that had done chops before.
I quartered the roof and dropped the profile 2 ¾" total, but cut low in the back to maintain a full sized rear window. Cutting the doors to match actually proved harder than the roof itself. Overall it was much scarier than it was difficult.
I decided to change the look of the hood and solicited the services of a local sheet metal shop with a louver press. I had a right and left patch panel made and butt-welded them into the sides of the hood for a clean look inside and out.
The bed was gone, nothing salvageable other than as templates. I decided the bed would dump so I made a subframe to mount the sides and floor on, stepped hard to allow room for the rear. Space was there so I built in a handy little storage space under the bed floor. Inner fender wells were necessary to allow room for the 31x16.5 M/T Sportsman tires.
The strengthening contours of the bed sides were replaced with hardwood panels so the fenders would fit properly. Not only did they match original profile, but they set the truck off wonderfully. The hardwood for that as well as throughout the truck is white oak with "Santeen" (a South American hardwood) accents.
The tailgate and roll pan were totally handmade from scratch. The "FORD" script is an aftermarket patch panel. The stainless hidden latches are integrated into the top tube of the gate.
The hydraulic system for the bed uses industrial pneumatic cylinders since the pressures needed are so low (under 250 psi) and runs in series off the power steering system. The 12 volt electric valve is mounted under the passenger seat but all lines are outside the vehicle.
Both front and rear fenders as well as running boards and grille are fiberglass. The whole mess was primed with epoxy primer and painted with a stock Ford production color, '94 Mustang GT Laser Red. All parts were fully painted before finally assembling the truck.
The 460 power plant runs stock compression through radically ported and polished heads and intake to produce wonderful results on pump gas. The matching Edelbrock carburetor and intake feed toward the custom welded shorty headers and stainless exhaust. The Weiand polished aluminum water pump and stainless braided heater hoses enhance the Motorsport chrome covers.
The GM style one wire alternator and remote sump power steering pump add simplicity. It all gets to the ground through a C6 transmission. The inner fender wells are polished 16 Ga. Aluminum. A false firewall of polished stainless cleans up the engine compartment further.
Many of the goodies on the truck were just ideas "on the fly" such as the four separate exhaust outlets on each side, the home made stainless driveshaft, and many of the cans and containers under the hood, all made from stainless tubing from a local dairy. Friends from Black Cloud Racing motorcycle team and Ron Baker Racecars added to the ideas as the projects took shape.
This vehicle will never be a "trailer car" and was meant to be driven and enjoyed. Some changes and improvements will be made in time as money permits. The stock mustang suspension will be changed to tubular strut-less arms. The interior will probably be totally redone but not for a couple years, although a new oak and Santeen console is already designed and nearly complete.
I found a source for Santeen veneer and plan to cut a large ford oval into the bed floor near the cab. There are literally hundreds of "little tidbits" that would enhance the detail of the truck. Besides…. The definition of Street Rod is "vehicle that is never done". - CTS