1956 Ford F100


Formerly owned by Joe MacPherson with work by Squeak White and Art and Mike Chrisman

1965 Ford single overhead-cam 427 cu. in. V8 engine, Ford C-6 automatic transmission, 1978 Ford front suspension, four-link rear suspension with Spax coil-over shocks, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 118"

Following World War II, Ford, like all manufacturers, rushed its prewar models into production to meet the need for both replacement vehicles and to fill the demand created by an affluent and vastly expanded market.

Introduced in 1949, the new Ford F-1 was freshly restyled but still very much a prewar vehicle under the skin. Consumers would have to wait until 1953 for Ford to introduce the first all new postwar truck. This delay was a result of Ford placing first priority on modernizing its automobile lines. After this was complete, Ford turned its attention to the pickup with a four-year, $30 million development program that in 1953 produced an all-new Ford pickup, the F-100.

Completely restyled, with a one-piece curved windshield and distinctive wide grille, the F-100 set a standard in light duty trucks that the consumer public was quick to recognize and would ultimately result in the F-100 nameplate becoming one of the longest-lived in American consumer vehicle history. Its name is recalled today in the current Ford pickups, which have grown slightly in size, greatly in features and even more in price, to earn the name F-150.

Almost immediately after its introduction, the F-100 became an instant hit with hot rodders. It could be used for towing and push-starting race cars, chasing parts, or with lowering and a little customization, become a noteworthy and very attractive vehicle in its own right. Restyled with a modern wraparound windshield, yet still retaining separate fenders and running boards, the 1956 model instantly became the most popular of them all. The Custom Cab option included the first chrome-plated truck grille since the 1938 Deluxe models, a bright windshield, drip rail, window, inner door and instrument moldings, a right hand arm rest, automatic dome light and a second horn. Both conventional and “big window" wraparound rear glass were available.

Despite its initial appearance as a big-window Custom Cab model, the truck presented here has been extensively customized. All of the metal work was performed by noted craftsman “Squeak" White, who worked full-time on Joe MacPherson's collection for nearly ten years after an apprenticeship with Steve Davis and Boyd Coddington. Mr. MacPherson owned the famed “Joe's Garage" collection in Tustin, California and sadly passed away in 2007. He believed in what he referred to as the “five-percent factor." That is to say, his cars were recognizable for what they were, yet somehow cleaner and smoother than any other comparable examples. As such, the tremendous attention to detail was only noticeable upon closer examination and by a relatively small percentage of observers.

To begin with, all the front sheet metal of the truck was rotated downward with the core support shortened to relocate the hood and fenders for a more pleasing profile. The cab and bed were tilted forward to match. After these extensive modifications, the hood and door gaps were adjusted with metal added where necessary to achieve outstanding fit. In addition, the wheel openings in the fenders were reduced to better fit the wheels and tires. Each rear fender was extensively modified using pieces from two other fenders so that it ran parallel to the bed and the top of the wheel opening was parallel with the bed rails.

Other subtle customizing touches included complete removal of the drip rails and filled and smoothed upper cab seams. The gas filler, cowl, heater vents, front fender, and hood seams were filled as well. The hood peak was shortened while the door corners were rounded and the wind wings removed. As for the bed floor, it was raised two inches for clearance and handsomely finished in oak wood with stainless steel hardware. The stake pockets were filled, tailgate seams were removed, custom hinges and latches installed, and custom rolled rear pan was fabricated along with completely new running boards and custom brackets for the '34 Ford taillights. Finally, under the hood, the windshield wiper motor was removed, the firewall filled and custom inner fender panels were fabricated.

The exterior is beautifully finished in custom-mixed PPG “Twilight Blue" polyurethane by Jerry Cain. The polished 15-inch Eric Vaughn “Real Wheels" are shod in 215/65-15 and 255/70-15 B.F. Goodrich tires (front and rear, respectively), and complemented by chrome and polishing by Christensen Plating and Speedway Polishing.

As for the interior, all the dashboard holes and seams were filled and a gauge cluster from a 1999 Mustang was installed. Chevrolet Tahoe bucket seats are divided by a custom fabricated aluminum console with a built-in switch panel. Interestingly, a special storage compartment is hidden behind the seats. The interior is tastefully upholstered in burgundy leather with burgundy nylon carpeting by Little John's Interior Concepts, and the leather door panels benefit from '56 Chevrolet armrests and '55-'57 Chevrolet stainless steel trim. Rounding out the interior is a set of modified Lokar pedals and a GM steering column with column shifter and a 1952 Ford steering wheel.

With expert workmanship by Mike Chrisman, the chassis features the entire disc brake and power steering-equipped front suspension from a 1978 Ford. In the rear, a Currie nine-inch Ford rear end equipped with Explorer disc brakes is mounted with a four-link control system and Spax coil-over shock units. Custom tubular crossmembers are used as well. The drivetrain consists of a rare 1965 Ford 427 single overhead-cam V8 engine, mated to a Ford C-6 automatic transmission, built by the legendary Art Chrisman and utilizing 9:1 JE pistons, stainless steel valves, and a high capacity oiling system. Custom aluminum cam covers machined by Dick Holt top-off the engine, which is fed by Hilborn fuel injection converted to modern electronic operation by Mike Chrisman. The wiring, by Tom Oliva, is completely hidden and the ignition is Motec electronic featuring eight Denso coils and an MSD crank trigger. Custom built two-inch headers by Rod Sexton feed the 2 1/2-inch exhaust system equipped with Mega Flow mufflers.

As evidenced by the extensive custom work, professional fabrication, and remarkable attention to detail, this F-100 Custom Cab Pickup adheres beautifully to Mr. MacPherson's “five-percent" rule. Benefitting from the expertise of such respected professionals as Squeak White and Art Chrisman, it remains a spectacular show truck through and through.