In the early '70s, when Jeff King of Hettick, Illinois, first got out of the Air Force, he picked up an issue of Truckin' magazine and immediately took a liking to the mid-'50s Ford panel trucks that seemed to be abundant in Southern California. But back in Illinois, the reality of owning a Ford panel seemed to be just a dream, because he never saw any old panel trucks in his area. Until one day while driving home from work, Jeff took a little detour through Shipman, Illinois, and spotted a '55 Ford F-100 panel sitting in a backyard. The detour turned into Jeff's new route home as he cruised by the old '55 each day after work and dreamt about fixing the truck up.
Then one faithful day, Jeff drove by the house where the truck was sitting and discovered it was gone. His heart sank when he didn't see it, so out of depression he drove around Shipman until he got lucky and spotted the '55 in front of a wrecking yard. Jeff pulled into the lot and asked the guy behind the counter if they wanted to sell the truck. The fellow told him he could haul it away for $300. Jeff went home and told his wife about the truck, and sensing that he really wanted it, she said they could take the money out of their savings. Since Jeff and Sheila were raising four girls at the time, money was pretty tight, but he just had to have the panel. He paid the wrecking yard an additional $50 to hook the '55 up to a wrecker and haul it to Jeff's house. One of the things that Jeff forgot to mention to Sheila was that the truck didn't have an engine or transmission and the interior was gone.
A machinist by trade, the first steps Jeff took to customize the '55 were not all that unfamiliar. Jeff blew the '55 down to the bare chassis and started by boxing the frame and installing a C-notch in the rear to clear the Ford 9-inch rearend packing a set of steep 2.77:1 gears. Up front, the stock straight-axle was pitched in favor of a Mustang II with coilover shocks. Additional modifications to the chassis, enabling the '55 to run 15x10 Mickey Thompson tires on Centerline wheels, were handled by Creed's Rod Shop in Jefferson City, Missouri.
To propel the old Ford, Jeff decided since everything else was Ford, he might as well stay on course and run a Ford engine and transmission. Jeff located a '75 460-inch motor and rebuilt it to a mild state of tune, then opted for Sanderson headers with Flowmaster mufflers for the exhaust system and MSD for the ignition. For the transmission, the C-6 that came with the 460 was rebuilt.