"Come here, Mr. Watson, I want to see you." His spoken words transmitted over copper wire to an adjoining room, Alexander Graham Bell made history in 1876. Invented in 1875, the telephone finally worked that day. Ironically, Bell became a millionaire from this invention, not from his lifelong career helping the deaf communicate.
Almost 100 years later in 1969, Bell Telephone employee Jim Blackburn bought a retired AT&T-owned '55 F-100 to use on his Clarksville, Georgia, farm as a wood, hay and rock hauler. The pickup provided trusty service for over 20 years, but had to be stored in the Blackburn's barn in '92 with worn-out steering and brakes.
Jim dreamed of bringing the Effie back as a show-winning hot rod hauler. From attending the F-100 Supernationals since the mid-'90s, he became acquainted with accomplished fabricator Teron Carver, who had constructed a road-peeling NASCAR-themed '56 F-100. Being Ford fans and motorheads, the duo had much in common. Their plan to renew the Effie with a high-performance theme incorporating modern drivability and comfort set the project on the right track.
Known as TC by his friends, Teron boxed the stock F-100 frame for strength. At both ends he welded in Corvette crossmembers to accommodate a '96 Corvette C5 IFS and IRS. Within the rear framerails, TC installed a 20-gallon Rock Valley fuel tank before plumbing both the fuel and brake lines. Once the modern, C5-comprised chassis was together, TC disassembled it enough to paint the non-shiny 'rails and 'members.
Blackburn sourced a '95 Ford Lightning truck 351ci Windsor V-8 crate engine and a Ford E4OD automatic trans. For swift, worry-free shifts, Phoenix Transmissions enhanced the auto trans further with a B&M trans cooler and a 2,500-stall converter, and custom-tuned the shift pressure for spirited driving.
Contemplating what color to paint the '55 occupied much of Jim's pickup planning. He wanted a hue that would exude class without being stodgy. When all TC's painstaking bodywork and paint prep was complete, he laid down several coats of Pewter Metallic. Color-sanding between coats, clearcoats and buffing resulted in a finish that has helped the Blackburns win many Best of Class and Best of Show awards at events throughout the Southeast. Before transporting the '56 to its last stop, the upholstery shop, TC wired it with a Haywire harness.
Lamar Stephens of Buford, Georgia, trimmed the '97 F-100 extended-cab split-bench seat in gray leather. Apart from gray wool-carpeted floors, the rest of the interior received more of the same. Because of careful planning and his partnership with an accomplished builder, Blackburn was able to finish the F-100 in one year. What was once a telephone truck and farm workhorse is now driven weekly and shown anytime there's an event in the Southeast. We bet even Alexander Graham Bell would appreciate the ingenuity and skill of Teron Carver and Jim Blackburn. As for the F-100, that's the sort of retirement all CCT readers aspire to.
Powering the '55 is a '95...
Powering the '55 is a '95 Ford Lightning truck 351ci V-8 that produces an estimated 275 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque, enough grunt to give the all-independent Corvette C5-suspension-equipped chassis some exercise.
Front and back bumpers are...
Front and back bumpers are '55 Ford reproduction stainless steel items. The Corvette C5 rolling stock, circa '96, are 17x10 inches all the way around. Shod with BFGoodrich G-Force TA series 255/50ZR17-inch radials, this vintage Lightning F-100 can run with the best of 'em. The taillights are '48-52 Ford-styled LCD items.
As upholstered by Lamar Stephens...
As upholstered by Lamar Stephens in gray leather, the '97 Ford F-100 extended cab's split bench seat is much more comfortable than what came off Ford's assembly line in '55.