A t the turn of the 20th century's sixth decade, the latest rage for America's Big Three automobile manufacturers was the compact craze. Not even American light-duty trucks were safe from an across-the-board introduction of revolutionary new models featuring unique ideas. Although the '60 Ford pickup was clearly a part of the new decade, it wasn't until '61 that the "Slick '60s" really took hold for Ford truck designs. The Ford Motor Company's '61 entry into the compact truck market was a cab-forward design utilizing the platform launched on the '60 Ford Falcon compact car. The Econoline pickup Ford introduced in '61 is a unibody of the purest sense due to its 100-percent construction.

For Chris Krajewski of Chase, Maryland, it was the Econoline series' unique appearance that caught his eye at the tender age of 14 years old, so much so that Chris, along with his dad, dragged home six Econoline pickups and 10 Econoline vans within a short period of time.

The '61 Econoline pickup featured here was a former farm truck Chris discovered with its nose tilted downward into the mud, serving as breeding grounds for pollywogs and mosquitoes.

When Chris and his dad first discovered the '61 Econoline pickup, they were only interested in its cherry tailgate and bed. But as the years passed and the duo built several interesting vehicles along the way, including a '41 Willys coupe Gasser and a '63 Chevy C10, Chris pared down his Econoline collection until he only had this '61 pickup and a '65 van. On Chris' 40th birthday his wife announced she was going to finance the '61's resurrection as a birthday present. After almost two decades it was finally time for the little compact unibody Ford to have its day in the sun.

The very first thing Chris did to start on the project was blow the Econoline all the way down to the bare shell and sandblast it. From here Chris' second step in the '61's rebirth was to set the stance. To drop it in the front while retaining the original '61 E- 100 spindles, he whacked the front subframe and boxed it in. Relocating the front shock mounts to work properly was the final step. With this completed, Chris managed to drop the '61 down 6 inches closer to its stock straight axle front suspension. Bringing up the rear, or should we say dropping it, consisted of relocating the pickup points for the shackles, then reinstalling the stock Ford 8-inch rearend.

Sitting rusting away with the cab submerged in mud in the farmer's field took a severe toll on the Econoline's front body panels. To repair the nose, Chris fabricated new sheetmetal to rebuild the '61's face. The only parts of the Econoline that didn't require a ton of bodywork were the bed interior and tailgate. But even the tailgate didn't completely escape Chris' attention. To add the CLK Kustoms touch, Chris made custom hidden tailgate latches and mounting tabs.