You never really forget your first vehicle. Some of us are lucky enough to say we still have them, but then there's the rest of us who've had to see them off for one reason or another. Sometimes we're relegated to replacing our first car or truck with something more "practical," for lack of a better term. Other times, fate intervenes and our dreams of holding onto our first vehicle are crushed in one disastrous moment. For Chris Smith, the latter of these two situations was the reason he parted ways with his initial means of transportation.
Chris' love for this particular truck is his birthright, for all intents and purposes. You see, both Chris' father and grandfather had a passion for the Blue Oval in their blood and drove F-100s as well. Chris grew up around this body style and spent many of his formative years riding in the ones his folks owned. So, carrying on the tradition of eventually owning one was all too appropriate. When Chris turned 16, he fulfilled that legacy when he got his first truck: a '69 F-100.
For about the next year and a half, the truck was his daily driver until tragedy struck. Chris was in an accident, and although he walked away relatively unscathed, the same couldn't be said about his '69. It was totaled. He had to bid farewell as it was towed off to automotive heaven. Chris vowed that one day, when finances allowed, he would purchase another '69 F-100, spare no expense in its restoration, and put his heart into building it exactly the way he wanted. Over the next 14 years, the inevitable wife and children came along, but Chris never lost sight of his dream. After seeing an ad in a local paper, he was able to capitalize on it.
Chris knew right away he'd found the right platform to turn his vision into reality. The paint was faded and the brakes were poor, but, all in all, the truck was pretty straight and really just needed a thorough freshening up. A handshake and $750 later, Chris was well on his way to giving this '69 a second lease on life. After driving it for about a month to get a feel for what the F-100's resurrection would entail, Chris spent practically every night over the next two years rebuilding the truck.
The game plan was to return the truck to factory condition with a few modern conveniences. Chris completely disassembled it and began painting the frame and rearend. For more stopping power, he swapped out the stock front drums to '73-78-model discs after finding a pair in a local junkyard. Aside from that, the only deviation from stock Chris made to the chassis was the addition of 15-inch Cragars.
Although the motor looks stock at first glance, Chris actually wanted to go with something a little more powerful. He purchased and rebuilt a '94 Mustang GT motor, and borrowed components from the original 302 to maintain a factory appearance. He switched it over to the original carbbed intake and repainted the valve covers, oil pan, timing chain cover, and air cleaner from the previous motor. The original C4 was also rebuilt and added to the rolling chassis.
As a paint shop supervisor (and having grown up in the business), Chris didn't cut any corners on bodywork. He spent many a night blocking, sanding, and repainting the truck in the original Ragu Red. That paintwork also included carrying the body color over to the inner fenders (a departure from stock) to make the truck look that much cleaner. All side chrome, bumpers, and weather stripping were replaced, courtesy of parts purchased through LMC. It took approximately a year and a half to locate another grille to replace the beat-up original, as repops for this particular style are unavailable.
The interior was restored to factory condition, with two exceptions: adding a CD player and painting the steering wheel to match the color of the truck. To say that the finished product is a part of the family would be an understatement. "I wish my father and grandfather were here to see it," Chris says. "They'd be proud of it." Today, Chris' two children are as enamored of their dad's F-100 as he was of the ones owned by his father and grandfather. It's safe to say that same F-100 bloodline is now going into its fourth generation. Who knows, maybe you'll eventually see an article on the F-100s Chris' little ones end up building.