It's not often that someone buys a brand-new truck and keeps it for 30 years, but Texas-born Charles Youngblood had the makings of a fine custom classic truck literally grow up in his very hands. When Charles and his wife, Cindy, were just starting their soon-to-be family of four, they chose a '77 Ford Ranger XLT Lariat with a mere 390 miles on the odometer as an all-around family vehicle. "At the time I got it," Charles reminisces, "our daughter Angie was just a baby. So the truck grew into the family along with Angie, who's now 32."
But unlike daughter Angie, the years weren't quite so kind to the Ranger. As one might imagine, 30 years of Texas weather along with the Lone Star State's infamous bumpy red clay backroads added more than just a gentle patina to the trusty '77. A brand-new pickup might be the answer, Charles thought, but it wasn't until he stumbled on a unique piece of equipment at a local police auction that a lightbulb went on in his head. He found an '02 F-150 for an unbelievably low price with very low mileage, but there was one small problem: the F-150 was completely devoid of sheetmetal body panels. Nothing that could even be considered a paintable surface existed anywhere on the truck. It seems someone had taken a serious liking to the truck's outer skin, and after stealing it with a mere 60 miles on the odometer, they stripped it to the bone before the Special Investigation Unit had it back to the somewhat dismayed owner, who promptly let it go across the auction block as part of an insurance settlement.
Since the price was so low and his Ranger and the '02 F-150 shared a similar wheelbase, Charles figured he just might be able to squeeze some lemonade out of this pile of lemons. When he got the stripped late-model home, he began taking the measurements that were critical for what he had in mind. Charles wanted to complete a merger of sorts. If the two trucks shared enough common geometry, Charles figured he could graft the old body to the new chassis and driveline. At first, it seemed like a big if, so Charles took the '02 rolling chassis and his treasured '77 to his buddy Mike Cassidy, the proprietor of Cassidy's Rod & Customs in nearby Newcaney, Texas. If anybody could give him an answer to his dilemma, it was Mike.