In keeping with the "old-school" theme of this month's Custom Classic Trucks, we put Jeff Costa's flamed '54 F-100 from Petaluma, California, on the cover. That said, we'd bet it wasn't two seconds before some of you jumped right out of your seats, and roared: "It's a '55, not a '54!" That was our reaction too, so we asked Jeff if he would fill us in on what he knows about his Ford F-100's history, and it went something like this:

Jeff became aware of this old Ford after a friend had spotted it sitting derelict in front of a house on the outskirts of town. Almost completely camouflaged from the street in a faded Metalflake Green, it displayed all the trappings of a '70's-style hot-rod pickup. Underneath the hood sat a crusty 460 Lincoln backed with a C6 Cruise-O-Matic and a Ford 9-inch bringing up the rear. Inside the cab, true to the era, rested a 12-inch Covico steering wheel plopped on top of a candy-green steering column that matched every interior piece that wasn't covered in black tuck 'n' roll. When Jeff knocked on the front door, the youngster who answered it confirmed the truck was $1,500. He went on to explain that the F-100 once belonged to his dad, and that his grandfather bought the truck brand new in late '54 from Sanderson Ford in downtown Petaluma. Bearing in mind that anything is possible when it comes to old trucks, Jeff believes the kid's story that his Grandpa's '54 came new with a '55 grille.

By profession Jeff works as a building contractor who specializes in constructing monumental custom homes. When Jeff brought the '54 home, he intended to use it as a shop truck for Sonoma County Street Rodz-his hobby shop that, thanks to a circle of great friends and family, is fast becoming a second business. The original plan was to get busy and knock out a flat-black beauty in record time. The Sonoma County Street Rodz crew stuck to their punctual timeline by cranking the truck out as it appears here in only five months, but everything else about the build snowballed from basic to wild. Instead of the intended flat-black finish Jeff was planning on, his friend Jimmy Warren, a gifted custom painter with a knack for turning out showstoppers, convinced Jeff to go the high-profile glossy route. The first step to ready the '54 for paint before it went to Jimmy was to strip the Metalflake Green and original white paint down to the bare metal. Once the cab, doors, front fenders, and hood were media blasted, next in line was to procure a new set of rear fenders and a custom bed from Sacramento Vintage Ford Parts. From here, Jimmy proceeded to lay down the finest paint job he could, using as many economical materials as possible. For primer, Jimmy used Evercoat Feather Fill, a sprayable polyester that isn't prone to shrinkage. After blocking the primer out, Jimmy sprayed 3 gallons of DuPont Imron Fire Protection Red sourced straight from DuPont's industrial color chart. Following Jeff's desire to create an "old-school" look, Jimmy engulfed the '54 in what he calls "Von Dutch"-style flames, using House of Kolor's Sunrise Pearl spiked with Tangelo and then masking off Process Blue pinstripes. The finishing touch was a heavy topcoat of DuPont 72500S urethane clear.

True to "old-school" ways, Jeff sold off the 460 Lincoln-powered rolling chassis in complete form to finance the next phases of the build. Starting with a bare '53 F-100 frame that he already possessed, Jeff and his brother Steve, the welder in the family, boxed it and then converted the rear leaf-spring suspension to a triangulated four-link from Suicide Doors, aka the Thorbecke Brothers. Up front, the '54 rides on a Heidt's frontend, with all four-corners relying on Slam Specialties' bags for air-ride capabilities. The braking system is thoroughly modern from stem-to-stern, featuring Classic Performance Products exclusively. A CPP power-brake booster assists a CPP dual master cylinder connecting four CPP disc brakes. For rolling stock, Jeff mounted Diamondback BFGoodrich T/A radials with wide whitewalls onto a set of steelies, caps, and beauty rings from Wheel Vintiques.

Under the hood, Jeff chose a late 350-inch Chevrolet crate motor and mated it with a 700-R4 automatic transmission. For induction, the 350 relies on an Edelbrock Air-Gap intake manifold saddled with an Edelbrock AFB carburetor. To lend a tasty old-school feel to the late Vortec Chevy motor, Jeff purchased a set of Cal Custom finned aluminum valve covers with a matching Cal Custom finned-aluminum air cleaner. A Pete Jackson geardrive plus a pair of Flowmaster Hushpower mufflers installed by Kelly Purdy at Mufflerworks lend a hot and nasty note that combines a mechanical whir with the nostalgic mellow note of fiberglass-packed mufflers.

For the cab's interior, Jeff made use of the latest technology available by choosing brand-name products that are styled with a retro appeal. On top of a fully chromed ididit steering column, Jeff mounted a Billet Specialties steering wheel with a white leather half wrap. He also installed a Ron Francis wiring harness teamed with a fully chromed Powermaster alternator to handle the customized Ford's increased electrical demands. The additional juice helps to keep the truck's twin air compressors buzzing while Jeff watches a DVD of American Graffiti on the dash-mounted Alpine head unit. The red-and-white tuck 'n' roll interior, complete with red carpeting, was done by Jason Gradney at Gradney's Custom Upholstery. The glass was done by Don Ransom at Redwood Glass.

In closing, Jeff wanted us to make sure his dad, Bill Costa, and a friend, Marty Frey, were also mentioned as a part of the Sonoma County Street Rodz crew that played a substantial role in the five-month build of their "shop truck."

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