As a youngster growing up in Kentucky, Billy Joe Caudill had the kind of childhood every motorsports fan would have enjoyed. You see, BJ's dad was a drag racer and imbued a strong sense of family in his young son by including all the kinfolk in his passion, racing and rodding. So close-knit was the young family that they served as the race team's pit crew as early as BJ can remember, garnering a Best Appearing Crew at the IHRA Spring Nats when BJ was only 2 years old.
As a teen, BJ built his first street machine, a '68 Ford F-100, and it was at this point that he began his love affair with customized classic trucks. That first pickup was just the start, as pride in his ride struck him like lightning. He enjoyed that Ford immensely, showing it at Pigeon Forge. The truck garnered enough attention to set the hook pretty deep in the young customizer. As a few years passed, BJ's idea of a fresh dream ride took shape, so he parted company with his first '68 F-100 and used the money to finance his next F-100.
While keeping his eyes open for a fresh truck chassis, BJ began making the first purchases for the new project. For starters, he procured a new 514-inch crate motor from Ford Motorsports, saving BJ the hassle of tearing into an old V-8. The engine was set up with C429 aluminum Cobra Jet heads that receive fuel via a Demon 850 carb. The motor came outfitted with a .647-lift cam to allow plenty of mixture into the cylinders. BJ also budgeted funds for a set of Sanderson headers that dump into a pair of 3-inch Flowmasters. A Ford Racing distributor delivers the properly timed spark, with full advance occurring at 30 degrees.
Next on his mid-summer Christmas list was a Fatman IFS front suspension and a Fatman Pro Street four-link setup to handle the rear. Shortly after the boxes of parts began arriving from Fatman Fabrications, BJ found a '68 donor truck with a frame that was in pretty good shape. The donor was the first in a handful of Bulletside Fords that BJ hauled home and parted out.
The chassis from the first truck was stripped bare, with the 'rails boxed and then ultimately painted by BJ and his dad. Once ready, the pair then spent many hours setting up the frame and suspension using Air Ride Shockwaves front and rear and spindles from a retired Pinto to hang the front GM disc brake rotors. They robbed the rear drum brakes from a junked Mustang. The pair chose Classic Cragar Street Lite wheels to mount Cooper Cobra tires up front, with Hoosier Pro-Street radials providing bite in the rear.
To get power to the 3.55:1-geared Ford 9-inch rearend, narrowed 4 inches and packed with Moser 31-spline axles, BJ located a '70 Ford C6 trans he rebuilt and beefed up with a B&M tranny kit, then topped off with a Hurst quarter stick shifter.
Moving on to the '68's bodywork, BJ plunked down the cash to buy a used MIG welder, and after a few quick lessons from his friend Nathan Reffitt, he began the process of cutting out cardboard templates, transferring the needed shapes for body alterations to the sheetmetal, and then welding the pieces together to get the body lines just right. The '68's cab came from BJ's grandfather's old F-100, which had been resting in the corner of the garage. Steve Lowe chopped the top on Grandpa's cab by 4 inches. With that completed, BJ sectioned, widened, and smoothed the steps on the Flareside bed. He also shaved the door handles, cut out the cowl panel, shaved the stock holes and vents, and installed a one-off louvered panel he created. The finishing touch was to smooth and fill all the seams. Paragraph Inside the bed, BJ installed a Dan Carpenter kit with a pair of 3-inch widened BeBop fiberglass fenders on the outside. The tailgate is another of BJ's creations; he used '48 Ford taillights to french into the rear bumper. Before he installed the motor, BJ convinced his dad that a smoothed firewall would be really cool, so while BJ was off at the Kentucky Dept. of Justice Academy, his father kept the project rolling by creating the templates for the last-minute body mods.
For paint, the '68 was turned over to BJ's good friend Bud Bradley, who handled the final prep work before spraying the DuPont Tequila Sunrise Orange paint in his two-bay shop in Hueysville, Kentucky, that's heated by a rustic yet efficient potbelly stove. The truck's graphics feature tri-coat tribal flames with pinstriping handled by Lil' Jack Graphics.
With the paintjob completed, work turned to the interior, which was transformed by Hall's Custom Upholstery in Hindman, Kentucky. Hall's handled stitching the '99 Nissan Maxima seats in dark grey leather and fitting them with Peak Racing Equipment five-point seatbelts. To clean up the dashboard, BJ shaved the ashtray, heater controls, and choke knob. For sound, BJ installed a Pioneer sound system featuring two 10-inch Jensen subs in an enclosure BJ constructed and hid behind the seats. There's also a pair of 6x9 Jensens in the custom console and two 4-inch tweeters that help deliver the full range of audio to the cab. To keep track of the truck's vitals, BJ built a custom dash filled with a full complement of Auto Meter gauges, including a 5-inch tach. The final touch inside the cab is a Lecarra leather and billet steering wheel atop the steering column.
BJ told us that "trucks have been a major part of my life; I guess it's a passion. This truck is my hunting, fishing, golf, and anything-else-you-can-mention truck. Thanks to my girlfriend, mom and dad, along with my friends, my dream has come true.