Building a customized classic truck can be a lot of fun, and the best part about it is the fun never ends. That is of course unless a feller sells his truck, and then takes up stamp collecting or something ... we call those guys ex-truckers.

For Ron Tarlton of Oxford, North Carolina, the thought of quitting old trucks has never entered his mind. A good example would be the moniker "No Limits" that he has given to his '70 Ford F-100 shortbed Styleside. The saga of Ron's '70 Ford is not unlike a lot of the trucks that have appeared on the pages of Custom Classic Trucks. Ron bought his truck form the original owner, a man who lived in Henderson, North Carolina, and used the short-wide F-100 to haul materials and the custom cabinets he built. After plopping $1,000 into the cabinetmaker's hands, Ron drove the old Ford towards home. It wasn't but a few blocks before he noticed the original 360-inch FE (a 361-inch Ford truck motor is an FT) that the truck left the factory with wasn't running all that good, and probably never really did have the beans he would have liked it to. That said, the very first thing Ron did to his '70 was yank out the 360 and drop in a 390.

Right off the bat, Ron didn't wait too long to see if he was going to like the stock 390--he started on a campaign to hop it up. Maybe it was the extra horsepower, or maybe it was just nature taking its toll, but no sooner than he had the hot-rod part of his truck in motion, he noticed that his cab was sitting a little caddywhompus. A closer inspection revealed the cab mounts were rusted out. By the time Ron and his dad had finished scattering the '70's interior all over his dad's welding shop, the two had decided the cab was way too rusty to save. No problem. Ron located a wrecked '70 Ranger with only 68,000 original miles on it and went to town. The town was Berea, North Carolina, where Ron entrusted Mac Surratt at Mac's Car Care to strip the cab down to the bare metal and get it ready for paint. Finding himself staring at an empty chassis, Ron figured it would be a good time to get busy doing all of the things that he'd been thinking about doing to his truck's stance.

Upfront Ron tossed the stock twin I-beams in favor of a dropped set from DJM, along with a pair of LMC 2-inch dropped coil springs. In the rear, Ron's '70 lost four inches of altitude with some DJM goodies, including a set of dropped shackle perches. As long as the engine and transmission were so easy to get to, Ron plucked the 390 out and dropped in the big mama (by one inch) of FE motors: a 428-inch Cobra Jet built by Donnie Moore of Durham, North Carolina. Donnie punched the 428 out 0.30 over and dropped in a set of 12.5:1 Wiseco pistons. The beauty of sticking to an FE motor was this: Ron could reuse the Edelbrock heads and intake manifold he bought from Summit Racing Equipment for his 390 and transfer them to the CJ 428. Switching to aluminum on a Ford FE motor knocks off almost 150 pounds of weight in comparison to the stock cast-iron parts from Ford. To extract even more horsepower, Ron took the Edelbrock FE heads over to Heads-Up Performance in Lumberton, North Carolina, and had them port and polish the Edelbrocks before Donnie bolted them on. Cam and carburetion for Ron's 428 comes from a solid-lifter Comp cam and a dual-feed double-pumper 750 Holley. For ignition the 428 relies on an MSD distributor, as well as wires that really go well with the truck's red paint--don't you think?

Behind the Donnie Moore-built 428 sits a TCI Streetfighter C6 Cruise-o connected to a Ford 9-inch packing a set of deep 4.11:1 gears, as one can well imagine Ron's Ford doesn't waste any time leaving the line. Not one to stop when he's having fun, but after the built 428 was dropped in, Ron figured it was a good time to install a set of Master Power disc brakes with drilled and slotted rotors--the trick go-and-whoa pedals are from Lokar.

Ron drove the Ford in the configuration above with it in primer for about a year before he decided it was time to return it to Mac's Car Care and have Mac hose on a heavy coat of DuPont Torch Red paint. From Mac's the '70 was shipped over to Powell's Upholstery in Durham, North Carolina, where Dennis Powell and his crew trimmed the truck in black vinyl and gray tweed. One of the last major touches that Ron did to his truck was to get a hold of a hardwood bed kit from Bruce Horkey and install it himself.

Even though Ron's '70 now appears to be finished, he says that he still checks out the magazine ads "because there's no limit to how much can be done to fix up an old truck."

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