It's an all-too-familiar scenario. You begin what seems like a simple task only to question your own judgment and intentions. Before you know it, you're deeply committed to making every detail perfect and spent a heck of a lot more time than you'd planned. But is it to your chagrin or satisfaction? Musicians do it in the studio, women do it with wardrobe changes, and classic truck owners do it with their projects. Why? It's a labor of love.
Take Ed Miller, for instance. A lifelong custom car and truck enthusiast at heart, Ed has been dedicated to this hobby since his dad bought him a '39 Dodge sedan when he was 12 years old. Like many of us, he can't just settle for a run-of-the-mill approach when it comes to taking on a new four-wheeled endeavor.
When Ed found a '55 F-100, he initially thought it would be a good no-frills work truck that he could fix up to make it practical for errand running and hauling dirty parts. Although it was all there, it had its typical share of damage from being as old as it was. Ed's original plan was to go the stock route in his restoration. When he started pulling the engine apart and eventually the cab, he just kept going. Ed thought if he was going to make one thing look and run right, he might as well apply that standard to every facet of the build.
In the front, Ed put in a Total Cost Involved Mustang II IFS; a four-bar with a Powertrax posi and 3.55 gears now resides in the rear. In order to get the '55 to sit right, Ed went through three sets of springs in the front and one set in the back. With the 17x8 Budnik Rockers up front and the 18x9s in the rear, getting all this and the proportions of the tires to sit right took some tinkering. With the stance it has now, it's about as sexy and aggressive as a pinup painted on the nose of a B-17 bomber.
For the drivetrain, Ed was considering a blown 392 Hemi, as he was pretty enamored with that idea after helping a friend drop one in a Willys pickup. But Hemi is a four-letter word when it comes to cost, so Ed decided to go with tried and true. He kept the '76 351W the '55 already had and hopped it up with a Holley 750; Edelbrock heads, cam, and Air Gap manifold; and Sanderson headers. The '55 had an FMX trans when Ed bought it and that has subsequently been swapped for a '70 C6 with a 2,400-stall converter.
As for the body, with some help from Frank's Auto Body in Huntington Beach, California, all the seams have been lined up like cabaret dancers. Since aftermarket and even N.O.S. factory parts are notorious for not fitting exactly the way you want them, this was also a task in and of itself. The bed has been replaced with steel bedsides from Mid Fifty F-100 Parts and Ed fitted it himself with white oak.
Ed also made new inner fender panels and panels to fit inside those to cover up the suspension parts and give it a cleaner look. In addition, he cleaned up the firewall and ran the plumbing under the fenderwell. An electric cowl vent was also created; just another feature that's discreet and unique.
When it came to choosing a color, this involved a bit of trial and error. Choosing colors out of a swatch book tells you about as much as buying a mail-order bride, and Ed knew it. His friend shot a panel about five different times until he found the one he liked. The standard red from this year was too overdone for Ed and he came across his ideal shade in PPG two-stage San Marino Red.
The custom Ford logo on the tailgate was air-brushed by Briggs Custom Paint in Huntington Beach. The taillights have been changed to '48-52 F-1 versions and the bumpers have been tucked in. You may notice something else out of the ordinary. The chrome license plate surround was borrowed from a '49 Chevy and ground to fit the stock rear bumper-another one of those details that just blends right in as if it were part of the truck originally.
Inside, the look continues the theme of refined and unobtrusive. Ed tried to go with a fiberglass panel under the dash to keep the wiring hidden, but it just wasn't working for him so he stenciled out another and cut his own one-off aluminum version. The gauges are genuine Ford with the exception of a Mooneyes tach, Pioneer stereo, and Vintage Air control panel. The seat is stock '55 issue and redone in black Naugahyde. The door panels have been left simple and painted.
Upon taking the '55 to the Donut Derelicts in Huntington Beach, California, after completion, even the legendary Art Chrisman complimented Ed on the truck's craftsmanship. In a way, Ed still has a shop truck. Its simple approach has practicality and a less-is-more feel written all over it. No frills and high-dollar braggadocio bs. If this is Ed's idea of a shop truck, we can't help but wonder what he'd come up with if he had an unlimited budget. But then again, this truck is proof you don't need to be in Warren Buffet's income bracket to create something that's show quality.