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.
Behind the engine is a '73 Ford C-6 transmission backed by a B&M 2,800-rpm stall converter and shifter. To keep the temps in check, Jim added a 24-inch finned aluminum trans fluid cooler.
As evidenced by the images before you, Jim endeavored upon a great number of extensive body modifications, the most obvious of which is the 7-inch chop top. To get the body's proportions back in line, a full 12 inches were removed from the body. The wheels tuck up nice and tight into the wheelwells thanks to being channeled 4 inches. Not even the hood escaped surgery, as it was pied 3 inches. Out back, the dual side-opening doors were ditched in favor of a single door that opens from the top, like many modern SUVs. Once the body was massaged to get all the knots out of it, Jim sprayed the PPG Wheatland Yellow base coat, added the flame job, and topped it all with a white pearl clearcoat.
With the exterior buttoned up, Jim turned his attention to the interior. An EZ Wiring wire kit connects all the electronic components. What better way to display Ford-in-a-Ford power than with Ford Racing gauges in the dash. A 2000 Saab donated its front seats for the comfort of the driver and front passenger. As the owner of a sail-making business, we have no doubt Jim didn't hesitate to tackle the interior upholstery with yards and yards of tan leatherette and tan carpet similar to a Lincoln Continental's. The genuine oak beltline with chrome trim running across the doors and dash as well as the center console was also completed by Jim. Matching the interior is the tan Grant steering wheel. Behind the removable rear seat is a carpeted bridge-notch cover to keep the rearend from hitting the bed floor when the frame was C-notched.
Sure, it took four years to complete, something a professional probably could have completed in less time, but surely not for the relatively miniscule sum of $30K that Jim invested in his Ford. With a lot of hard work, dedication, creativity, and family support, homebuilt trucks can and do compete with the pro jobs; as evidenced by Jim McFarland's efforts, they even get the attention they deserve. CCT
Ford-in-a-Ford power courtesy of a big ol' 460 pumping out 520 horses
Ford Racing gauges fill the dash just behind the Auto Meter tach and Grant steering wheel.