The story of Jim Collins' '56 Ford F-100 Big-Window is one of trial and tribulation, scandal and intrigue, with family members pitted against each other in a bitter rivalry that threatens to split the very bond that exists between a father and his sons.
OK, so it may not be that dramatic, but as Jim's son Mike tells it, there was quite a backlash after he and his brother Rob secretly bought the '56 and delivered it while the elder Collins' were out of the house.
"In the fall of 1999 my father had mentioned that he would like to get a '56 Ford Big-Window F-100 like he had prior to me and my brother's arrival into this world and take it down and build it up as a frame-off restoration. I mentioned that it's not as easy as it sounds and he informed us that he's been doing this for a while and my brother Rob asked 'When's the last time you did it though?'
"Fast forward to the spring of 2000. I had located a '56 that was basically stripped down of all of the components which would be replaced anyway (Y-block, transmission, interior, bed floor, etc.). At this point I called Rob, who was working in Arizona, and asked him if he would split the costs with me and present the truck to replace the one which "hit the road" upon our arrival. He agreed to the idea and I went ahead and made the purchase and trailered the truck to my friend's house to store until Rob was home for a weekend. Rob came back after a week or so and we planned on delivering the truck to my parent's garage while they were at church on Sunday. Everything went well with the delivery. We moved some stuff out of the way to make some room in the vacant garage bay, slid it in, shut the door, picked up the ramps, and left.
"Well they returned, pulled into the garage right next to the truck and went into the house to change for their afternoon of running errands and lunch, without even seeing it. My dad came out first and this time he saw it and was in amazement as to where this truck came from and what it was doing there. Then the excitement really started; Mom came out to see it. It wasn't a pleasant reception for the truck. There were questions like 'Where did that come from?' 'Why did you buy it?' 'What are you going to do with it?' 'I don't remember approving such a purchase!' Dad of course had none of the answers for her since he was just as surprised as she was. Next stop was Rob's house where he was read the Riot Act as soon as he confessed to having involvement, but clarified that it wasn't his idea, he just helped finance it. 'Call Mike!' was his response. Well, the phone call I had been waiting for finally came but instead of the 'That was such a good gift.' and 'You guys are so thoughtful,' it was more like 'You're so stupid,' 'What a waste of money, he's never going to do anything with that pile of junk,' 'You should have never wasted your money.' And more which can't be repeated to the point where I had to hang up the phone on her. All that did was guarantee me another dosage of the same medicine I had just received, but the only difference was that this time it was going to be in person.
"To make a long story short after she stepped back and thought about it she warmed up to the idea and was looking forward to getting it going and on the road so that they could go out and enjoy driving it."
After the stuff that hit the fan slowly settled and tempers cooled, Jim started tearing into the old Ford.
"The build of this truck was spread out over the course of 6 years. The truck was purchased in 2000 in rough condition, yet 80 percent complete. The cab, a stock bed, fenders, doors, running boards, and the factory frame were in place. Items such as the 312 Y-block engine, transmission, and other items were not part of the deal which was fine because they were items that were slated for removal prior to searching out the project.
"To start things off the truck was taken to get the chassis fabrication performed by Brian Jendro. Included in this was the installation of the Mustang II front suspension, the four-link rear suspension, narrowing of a Ford 9-inch rearend, boxing of the framerails, mounting of the engine/transmission, brake master cylinder, fuel tank, and the radiator. Also as part of this initial phase of the build was Dave Wright performing the raw metalwork for smoothing the firewall, cowl vent, the heater air intake vents on the passenger side of the cab, the dash, and gas fill hole and rust repair to the roof, the rear window opening, and the rear quarters of the truck. Upon completion of this phase the truck was then taken to Jon Guilmet of Hot Rod Hell.
"The continuation of the metalwork was performed at this juncture. Included in this was the shaving of the emblems, door handles, the sectioning of the hood, the channeling of the body over the framerails at the front 2 inches, the shaving of the roof seams, the radius of the corners on the doors, assembly of the aftermarket bed, fabrication of the custom rear roll pan, welding up of the bed seams, the capping of the end of the top rails at the back of the bed, and the installation and fitting of the original doors, fenders, and running boards. After the metalwork was completed Jon started in on the bodywork.
"Concurrent with the above-mentioned work, the 460ci Ford engine was being rebuilt along with the transmission that would receive the silver and red paint. Also at this time, the frame was powdercoated gloss black.
"The truck was then moved to Bobco where the final bodywork, paint, and assembly of the truck would take place. This was the longest stay of the previously visited locations. At Bobco the truck was completely disassembled and shot in PPG red then reassembled. After the final installation of the engine/trans, the wiring of the truck was next on the list, along with the installation of the one-piece side power windows, Vintage Air A/C unit, gauges, windshield, rear window, and polished stainless trim. When the cab was starting to become complete, Bobco then moved to the bed of the truck to install the finished oak rails, the actuator-driven bed slat for the access to the fuel fill, the tailgate, the taillights, and last but not least, the rear bumper.
"From here the truck was sent to Upland, California, where Mark Lopez at Elegance Auto Interiors built door panels, an overhead console, the wraparound kick panel, and an underdash brow for the A/C vents and controls. Then he covered the Cadillac seats with tan leather along with the door panels, kick panels, headliner, and the rear of the cab, accompanied by red accents."
Since the initial arrival of the truck, all parties involved have come to agree that the boys' purchase of the truck for their dad was very thoughtful, replacing what they had originally. And who couldn't forgive a couple of guys who surprise you with one of the most sought-after classic truck models out there!?
The C6-backed,'63-vintage Ford 460ci engine was balanced and blueprinted before being sprayed in Kosmos Red and dressed in aluminum Edelbrock heads, intake manifold, and 750-cfm carb, polished March Performance pulleys, coated Sanderson headers, chrome 100-amp alternator and A/C compressor, and Mooneyes finned air cleaner.
The dash was smoothed and...
The dash was smoothed and painted before the tan leather was installed by Mark Lopez at Elegance Auto Interiors. The Cadillac bench seat is flanked by custom panels, floor to ceiling.