Without a hitch, fighting tooth and nail, and just plain odd are a few sayings that can describe situations, but it's still beyond strange how some things transpire. There's really no rhyme or reason to anything in this world, because the truth of the matter is that day-to-day situations come in all different sizes and shapes-it's just the nature of the beast. Yet knowing all this, we still can't help but give a puzzled smirk to the way certain events unfold, much like how John Bills acquired his '54 Ford.
A few years back, John had a boat in need of a mule to haul it to and from the lake. Looking for a bargain, he jumped on eBay and found this '54 Ford in Denver, Colorado, 500 miles away from his Lincoln, Nebraska, home. When he went to pick the truck up, the owner told him he may not get it to start again if he turned it off, so on that note it was straight on through until he got back to Lincoln. The plan was to swap the straight-six and factory tranny out for a V-8 and automatic transmission and hit the lake.
To get things rolling, John met up with Pete Klucas, owner of Top End Engineering in Lincoln. Together they began laying down a plan, but before the truck really got kicked off, John sold the boat! Now he was left with a truck he bought for a purpose, yet that purpose was now gone. However, John figured a truck is the quintessential utilitarian vehicle, so he went ahead and followed through with the initial build. And just like that, it wasn't long before Pete was building John a brand-new truck from the ground up, only the finished product wouldn't end up as a workhorse.
For the most part, Pete was the mastermind behind the F-100, although John did play a key role in determining the look and style of the ride, so he pretty much ran free and built John a solid truck. Top End started on the chassis. First they stripped the frame down and boxed it in. Then the straight-axle was yanked and a Total Cost Involved IFS frontend was grafted to the frame. Included in the front end are airbags and disc brakes for the ultimate in cruising comfort and stance. For the running gear, a '95 Mustang GT rearend was installed. Along with the rearend, the motor is also from a '95 Mustang Cobra, as well as the '95 AODE four-speed automatic tranny with a Baumann standalone computer. Plain, simple, and all-Ford is the way to describe the '54's underpinnings.
With the foundation finished up, it was time to get started on the body. John wanted the truck to retain the look of a '54 Ford, yet between Pete and John, they both decided it needed a few subtle mods. Top End started off by removing any obtrusive items that didn't serve a vital purpose, such as the side mirrors, locks, vents, gas filler door, and more. Next, they modified the tailgate, customized the running boards, and welded up the seams. Instead of using the stock bumper or shaving the bumpers, they came across a set of mid-'60s Bronco bumpers that fit perfectly.
When it came time to pick the color, it arrived in an even stranger way than the truck's beginning. John had a bright green golf club and said, "This is the color I want." Pete took the club to the paint store and tried finding a match, yet in the meantime John happened to run across a Saturn color that was close to the club. However, Pete felt the Saturn color was much too gold, so he played around with it, and what ultimately came from the whole scenario is the bright PPG custom green the Ford wears. Lastly, they threw on some Boyd Coddington 17- and 18-inch wheels, and it was off to upholstery.
Bob Weddington in Lincoln is responsible for the custom Sea Oyster and Light Sand-colored concoction. Along with the custom-stitched interior is an ididit steering column topped with a Billet Specialties steering wheel. Whether or not the truck is now serving its original intentions is beside the point, because now this Ford is one lean, mean, green machine.
Although the motor is a stock Cobra, the polished manifold and BBK headers really bring th
Dig that deep oak floor perched inside all that flamboyant green paint.