Many of us have had ones that got away-trucks, women, jobs, barroom brawls, subprime adjustable rate mortgages. Seeing as this is a custom classic trucks magazine and not a country music station or, regrettably, a saloon, we'll stick to discussing trucks. Many years ago Jerry Johnston owned a 1956 Ford F-100, but sold it and regretted it ever since. With vigor, Johnston began to search for a new '56 F-100 to call his own.
In no time, Johnston saw a 1956 Ford-one with a Big-Window, no less. Though the owner wasn't interested in selling, a few months of badgering had the Ford sitting in the driveway of Johnston's Fallbrook, California, home. A few years of work had the Effie nearly done when fate stepped in the way. Actually it was a car in the way, and the result wasn't pretty. Johnston says that the truck was pretty much totaled.
Johnston picked up the pieces and shipped them off to Rex Buxton at Buxton Motorsports in Irvine, California. Buxton, who has a history of taking junk and turning it into show winners, set to work on the Ford. Gone is the bent stock unit. In its place is a Walton chassis that floats on an Air Ride Technologies suspension. Up front, the Walton IFS unit features 2-inch drop spindles, 1-inch Chassis Works rod ends, and a set of Air Ride Shockwaves. The rear end is a Walton four-link setup also equipped with Shockwaves. An Air Ride Technologies Ride Pro E controls the system. The rearend is a narrowed Ford 9-inch housing equipped with a Currie Enterprises centersection and 3.73 gears. Keeping the Ford handling nicely are 1-inch TCI anti-sway bars.
With plans for a powerful engine, sure stopping was a must, which means disc brakes. The front units are 11-inch Ford Granada cross-drilled rotors clamped with GM single-piston calipers, while the rear units are cross-drilled Explorer units from Currie. Combining the best of old and new, Johnston chose to equip his Effie with 18-inch American Torq-Thrust II wheels, while onto the classic American wheels went 50-series Kumho rubber.
For reliable power, a Chevy LT1 engine is hard to beat. Of course, there is some room for improvement and Buxton installed a Crane cam with 1.6:1 ratio roller rockers. A Street & Performance intake manifold was added, as was a Street & Performance housing filled with a K&N air cleaner. The show-chromed Street & Performance valve covers and pulley system complete the look. A set of ceramic-coated S&S headers (equipped with Doug's electric cutouts), MagnaFlow mufflers, and exhaust route the spent fuel to the outside. The Buxton crew built the radiator and aluminum fan shroud that houses the twin Spal fans.
A Street & Performance computer harness connects the engine and the 4L60E transmission. Said trans features a 2,100-stall Continental Converter and connects to the rearend with a custom Driveshaft Drivelines (of Lake Forrest, California) driveshaft. Randy Ritchie at Performance Associates in San Dimas, California, did the dyno tune and tweaking of the stock computer to get the engine running perfectly.
Buxton found that the crash had totaled the Ford's body, and with another cab and front sheetmetal procured, Buxton shaved the door handles and added a No Limit tilt hood assembly. The original bed has seen many tricks, including filling the ends of the bedrails and raising the bed floor 3 inches to clear the suspension. Buxton installed a fiberglass roll pan and Chevy dualie inner tubs while Mid Fifties tailgate latches finish off the work.
With the bodywork done, the truck was sent to Eagleton's Custom Paint of Huntington Beach, California, for the PPG Wild Berry Pearl paint job. A set of Headwinds Tri Bar Halogen front lights and the Mid Fifties billet brackets that surround stock taillight lenses completes the exterior package.
Thanks to the crew at Bill's Auto Upholstery in Brea, California, cool faux Zebra inserts adorn the Chevy bench seat. Bill's did all upholstery work, including the headliner, door panels, and leather half-wrapped Billet Specialties steering wheel sitting atop a Flaming River stainless steel column. Instruments are by Dakota Digital and the bezel is from Mid Fifties. A Vintage Air A/C system and Pioneer stereo complete the dash. Buxton installed the 18-circuit Painless Performance electrical wiring system. With his truck back on the road, Johnston can joke that "with Buxton Motorsports and the help of Farmers Insurance" the Ford has turne-d out nicely. As it's worth an estimated $150,000, Johnston will be very careful when driving his Ford.