Typically, the F-100 Supernationals and Ford Family Reunion held mid-May each year in Knoxville, Tennessee, is the best place to see the nicest '53-56 Ford F-100s in the United States. This year's 28th, where we celebrated the '56's 50th birthday, was no different.
Since this is such a special event for vintage Ford trucks and their enthusiasts, we arrived one day earlier than usual. While they were unloading their enclosed trailer on the eve of the show, we met Barb and Bob Baxter of Lakeside, California. What emerged from the large white rolling box was a feast for a Ford fanatic's senses, a jet black '56 F-100 built with the best hot rod components.
We soon learned this black beauty belonged to Barb, and it's the third '56 F-100 presently owned by the Baxters. Bob bought a brand-new '56 F-100 while stationed in Massachusetts in the United States Air Force. He drove it 300,000 miles before restoring and showing it. Bob also built a '56 for their daughter Brandi's 16th birthday. They premiered Brandi's truck at the 20th Annual F-100 Supernationals.
By boxing the stock frame, son Jerry and Bob began building the F-100 some 16 years ago. They replaced the front suspension with a custom IFS setup, which included '69 Impala wagon spindles and disc brakes. Carrera coilovers, tubular A-arms, and a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system brought the F-100's front suspension up to date. Utilizing a 3.80:1 geared differential suspended by dual Carrera coilovers and an '87 Corvette IRS, the rear suspension was now every bit as capable as the front. The guys took the chassis apart and had it powdercoated red, then rebuilt the chassis with red-anodized rear control arms in addition to all the polished stainless and aluminum components.
Before father and son Baxter could address the Effie's drivetrain, a major roadblock halted the project pickup's progress. Bob bought his teenaged daughter, Brandi, a '56 he wanted to build for her 16th birthday. The family finished Brandi's birthday gift in time for the 20th F-100 Supernationals, then got back to work on Barb's truck upon their return from the show. Seeking a special engine, Bob found a '57 312ci Y-block he bored .040-inch over and filled with Sealed Power rings and pistons. An Edelbrock 600-cfm four-barrel carb made the motor a well-fed mill, while a Billet Specialties air cleaner and '57 Thunderbird valve covers brought abundant brightwork to the engine bay. The D500 dump truck Ram Horn exhaust headers were Jet-Hot Coated so well they almost look like tubular block hugger headers. Equipped with a floor-mounted Gennie shifter, an '89 C-4 automatic trans enhanced with a trans cooler within the aluminum radiator handles the transfer of power with precision.
Though the Effie's exterior didn't have much rust, Bob took the panels to bare metal before welding all the body seams. He shaved the door handles and locks. When he transported the F-100 to Bodyworks by Jerry in Ramona, California, for paint, it was ready for PPG Black and clearcoat topcoats.
Benny Gonzales in El Cajon transformed the interior with his artful stitch work. After Bob wired the truck and finally fired it up for the first time, it was finished for the biggest F-100 Supernationals ever-the 28th annual affair that celebrated the '56's 50th anniversary. The first time out for Barb's '56 brought a Top 4 finish at the Supernats. Barb's F-100 may have taken 16 years to complete, but it was well worth the wait. Son-in-laws Jesse Patton, David Beat, and Jordan Martinez also helped construct the F-100. If the other two Ford trucks the Baxters own are any indication, Barb's '56 should be in the family for years to come. Well done, Baxters!