It all started at a pretty early stage in Bob Dillon's youth-his love of street rods, that is. Along with a few hot rod magazines and his admiration of the work turned out by local craftsmen- whose art Bob had seen blasting down the otherwise sedate Virginia roads all of his youth-he was pretty much hooked.
Back in 1991, Bob began to hunt for the right truck at the right price. His chance came when a thoroughly used '55 Ford F-100 became available for a fairly reasonable sum. Although in pretty rough shape, as Bob put it, he could see past the rust and rot that had come to define the truck's past and into its future as a full-fledged custom.
Stripping the F-100 down to the frame was the first chore in store for Bob. With a Pro Street look in mind and plenty of fresh horsepower planned, Bob boxed the frame's front three quarters and added a complete Mustang II front end kit from Fat Man Fabrications located in Charlotte, North Carolina, while adding a subframe for strength in the rear quarter.
Next, Bob purchased a Ford 9-inch Posi rearend that was disassembled and narrowed to allow room for the massive Mickey Thompson Sportsmans that were Bob's choice for traction. After fitting the modified rearend with Richmond 3.50:1 gears, Bob called on Air Ride Technologies for one of their ShockWave systems to keep the M/Ts in touch with the asphalt. To complete the rolling chassis, he added Wilwood four-piston calipers and drilled rotors for fast and reliable stopping power. He lightened the '55's steering with a Mustang II power steering rack mated to a Borgeson steering shaft, and the entire assembly was topped with a Budnik banjo-style steering wheel.
Bob's friend Tim told him about an available 460-inch Ford mill, which the pair stripped down and took to the local machine shop to clean it up and fit it with a set of Keith Black 9.5:1 pistons. In the meantime, the heads received a thorough port and polish. Once the block was back, Bob set to the task of assembling his first motor with a shop manual close at hand. Along the way to finishing the motor, a '78 Lincoln C-6 tranny found its way into Bob's garage. This, too, he stripped and had rebuilt by AA Transmission, who added a TCI 2,500-rpm stall torque converter.
Bob custom-made his bed floor...
Bob custom-made his bed floor out of Purple Heart, a toxic wood known for its purple color and inedible flavor. The Mooneyes fuel tank was custom-built to fit the 55's dimensions.
Of course, with a truck this age, you know there's got to be some rust and rot to deal with-and Bob got his share. Grinding, welding, and sanding till all hours of the night, Bob got the cab section of the truck ready for some pros to take over. He'd already chopped the top 4 inches up front while taking 3 1/2 inches off the rear to give the roofline a more aggressive attitude. He then dropped off the cab at C.A.R.S. in Belews Creek, Virginia, where the final touches were laid on the body. Meanwhile, Bob plumbed the oil, fuel, and brake lines in preparation for assembly. Upon the cab's return, he bolted it in place, followed by a Dan Carpenter bed and tailgate. Bob cut the bed and created the tubs that shroud the fat rear M/Ts. He then lined the bed with Purple Heart wood, and as a memorial to his wife's mom, her moniker, Weezie, is emblazoned on the differential cover. Seems she passed shortly before getting her ride in "that damn thing," so now she goes to all the runs, if only in name.
One final addition was one of the components Bob just had to have-a Mooneyes fuel tank. A few last wires to connect the MSD ignition and the motor fired easily, filling the garage with the divine thunder of a V-8.
Now, if this sounds like it took some time, you heard correctly. Twelve years, to be exact. After a successful season showing the truck, winter rolled around, and sure as the flu Bob was itchin' for another project. But since "the boss" (that'd be Bobbi, his wife) wasn't ready for another dozen years of garage time, she suggested he put his energy to use modifying the '55. To get Weezie ready for the '06 season, the engine bay got most of the attention with the addition of a Haltech EFI system that mimics the look of four classic Webers (minus the headaches), and a shiny new set of Boyd's Crown Jewel rims. One final touch came in the way of a birthday present from Bobbi-a new four-fan radiator created by Wizard Cooling in Orchard Park, New York, without Bob knowing. Is that cool or what?
The '55's ice-cold A/C is...
The '55's ice-cold A/C is thanks to Vintage Air. Gauges are from Ford Motorsports, with a cluster panel from Mid Fifty.
Under the hood sits a 460-inch...
Under the hood sits a 460-inch Ford topped with a Haltech FI setup that relies on MSD for spark. For power transfer, a beefed C-6 tranny packing a TCI torque converter unloads on a Ford 9-inch rearend with 3.50:1 Richmond gears.