"It started when a friend I worked with was building a '52 F-1 pickup," Ray Corn explained. "I thought, 'How could anyone put so much time and money into such an ugly truck?'"
Looking at it from the opposite direction, maybe it makes more sense to modify a truck you think is ugly. Those are the ones that could benefit from that time and money. We've all seen custom truck builders sink a pile of cash into a ride that started out really nice-cutting and reworking it until they've obliterated every bit of its original appeal (never in this magazine, though). On the other hand, we've come to realize that no truck was ever made that could not be turned into something amazing. There's no truck that doesn't have some desirable quality that can be drawn out. All it takes is imagination, ambition, time, talent, and money.
We've always seen the beauty inherent in F-1s and are glad that Ray came around to his friend's-and our-way of thinking. Otherwise, he never would have built this well-reworked, and definitely good-looking, '51. Ray's conversion began after seeing how good his friend's truck looked with a chopped top and some cool paint.
Ray, who has owned classic cars, trucks, and race cars over the past four decades, decided his next ride ought to be a custom truck. But not just any truck, an F-1. Before long, he'd sold his Super Street drag race car and trailer (talk about time and money!) and started looking around for a project. His friend with the '52, Tony Henehan, knew about this one. It was already under construction as a Pro Street pickup, just waiting for somebody to continue the work. Ray bought it and immediately enlisted Tony's help in finishing it. "I told him that I wanted something that would keep up with the latest trends and styles," he told us.
The sheetmetal was the starting point for the project, but the body mods were kept mild. Tony handled the bodywork, starting with a new firewall, then moving up to the top, which was chopped 23/4 inches. The cowl was filled and all the gaps were made perfect. Front and rear roll pans were built, and LED tailights were flushed in below the tailgate. The bed is from Mar-K Quality Parts and the crew at Tony's installed the bed wood.
After being fully mocked-up, the truck was disassembled, blasted, and sent to Alamo Customs in Alvin, Texas, where Robert Meza blocked the panels to perfection and sprayed the PPG Candy Brandywine and the ghost flames. Each part was then returned to Tony Henehan's for assembly.
A little bit of that paint carries over onto the dash, which was customized with new gauges from Classic Instruments. The dash also houses the controls and vents for the Vintage Air A/C system, and (look closely) the flat screen for the DVD player. If it's just tunes you're after, there is an Alpine stereo system as well. The rest of the interior, including the custom I.S.S. seats, is brightened up by the Snow White Ultraleather upholstery with ostrich inserts, installed by Shawn Cook of Cook's Auto Top & Trim in Murphy, Texas. The steering wheel is from Billet Specialties.
It's bright under the hood, too. Ray went for high impact, in terms of power and appearance. Sorry Ford purists and Flathead fans. Street & Performance in Mena, Arkansas, built the injected GM RamJet 502ci big-block for the truck, which puts out 510 horsepower. The whole thing was polished and plated with Flowmaster mufflers to scavenge the exhaust. An overdrive 700-R4 transmission, operated by a Lokar shifter, backs up the big motor, delivering torque to the 4.11 gears in the Ford 9-inch rearend.
Underneath, the '51 retains its factory frame, but the rails have been completely boxed and the frontend swapped for a Mustang II independent suspension. The Ford 9-inch rear is suspended by a four-link. Front and rear Aldan coilover shocks and Chassis Engineering anti-sway bars improve ride and handling. The brakes are Aerospace Components discs (popular with drag racers) with a Hydro-boost assist setup. As with every other part of the truck, the chassis combines function and style, with more candy paint providing the latter. True to the Pro Street theme he was after, Ray filled the rear fenders with a pair of 20x15 Matrix Twisted billet wheels from Intro, rolling on 29x18.00R20 Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R radials. Front MTs are mounted on 18x8 Intros.
For a truck Ray once considered ugly, his candy F-1 has been getting a lot of praise for its appearance, including Outstanding Truck from the Houston AutoRama. To date, the truck has won six Best of Show awards at seven events. Ironic, isn't it?