Over the last several years there have been discussions in the street rod community about the proliferation of professional restoration and custom shops and builders. For many, going this route seems the sure and only way to get noticed for the big awards and media exposure. Although the professionals do turn out quite amazing vehicles, it seems to be to the detriment of the home-builder's efforts, which is what this great hobby of ours was built around.
While attending the 2007 Knoxville Nationals, we couldn't help but be drawn to this '57 Ford panel truck done up in a Pro Street style. As we talked more and more with the owner, Jim McFarland of Georgia, we just knew we had to share his creation with our readers. You see, Jim, with the help of his wife and son, has one of the nicest homebuilt trucks around.
Jim's first step was to get the frame prepped to accommodate the many radical changes Jim had in store for this project. The frame's front half was boxed in anticipation of the weight of the new motor. An aftermarket IFS front end uses the stock shocks, springs, and sway bars along with custom front spindles fabricated by Jim Weimer Rod Garage. The stock steering setup was upgraded to a rack-and-pinion unit from a '79 Ford. Braking is handled by '78 model-year GM discs.
The frame's rear has a 5-inch C-notch to allow the rear axle proper travel. The stock 9-inch rearend was narrowed and filled with 4.56 gears along with a Posi unit. Gabriel shocks and the stock leaf springs, relocated inboard several inches, suspend the rear, while the stock Ford drums perform the braking duties. Making the frame a roller are Cragar wheels wrapped in Cooper and Hoosier tires, front and rear respectively. The front wheels wear 205/70R15s, while the rear Hoosiers are steamroller-like 31.0x16.5x15s, the perfect combination for a Pro Street-style truck.
The boxed frame is now plenty capable of supporting the 520hp 460ci Ford engine sitting in the bay. Jim balanced the entire assembly of the '73 vintage big-block, which has been bored 0.020 over and filled with stock 10.5:1 compression pistons. The heads have been angle-milled and received a competition valve job. Induction duties fall to a pair of Holley 600 carburetors atop a Weiand Tunnel Ram intake manifold. A combination of Sanderson headers and Summit Racing mufflers expel the spent gasses.