Peggy Fontaine's love of all things classic began when she met her husband, Kurt. A lifelong hot rodder and all around tinkerer, Peggy's sudden immersion in the hot rod scene surrounding their Dayton, Ohio, home soon had her yearning, like many women lucky enough to become involved in the hobby, for a hot rod all her own.
"Since my husband is an avid hot rodder, I decided I wanted to have one of my own. I wanted a truck, but not sure what make, model, or year. We looked at many swap meets, but couldn't nail anything down.
"We decided to stop and see one of Kurt's buddies, Jim Cox, and look at his latest truck project and boy was it cool!! He was building a 1948 Ford F-1, Hemi powered, patina'd paint, and low to the ground. I tried to get Jim to sell it to me, but he wouldn't budge. I looked at my husband and told him I wanted an F-1 and now the search was on.
"In 2006, my husband and his buddy Doug Mendenhall went to the Back to the 50's car show in Minnesota. Kurt always has luck finding cars there (he's bought one every time he visits), and luck struck again. Within an hour of walking the grounds, Doug found me a truck sitting on the north side of the facility. The truck was in pretty good shape, was mostly steel, had a 350/350 Chevy combo in it and the frontend had a Volare subframe. They determined the truck had great potential and the price was right. Not wanting to let one get away, my husband sat in the cab until the owner showed up! After a testdrive around town, cash changed hands and the truck was mine.
"Before his 12-hour trip home, he had to replace a brake hose as it pulled real hard to the right, and tightened up every nut and bolt he could see. His trip home was uneventful except for the $150 worth of gas it went through."
Once home, the Fontaine's tore into Peggy's new truck, rebuilding the Volare frontend and lowering the back by mounting the rear leaf spring under the axle as opposed to above it with the help of Jeff Tygret. It also received a fresh set of rollers courtesy of chrome steelies with bullet center caps from Wheel Vintiques, shod in Coker wide whitewall rubber. Those are 15x6s up front shod in 5.60x15-inch rubber with 15x7s out back wrapped in L78x15-inch rubber.
To power Peggy's truck, they decided to go the simple route and install a small-block Chevy engine shod in various chrome and aluminum dress-up goodies that delivers all the power the TH350 trans can handle. A five-blade mechanical fan and recored stock radiator keeps the motor running cool, while a GM HEI distributor provides plenty of spark to keep the cylinders alit.
The all-steel '49 Ford pickup needed a few replacement parts once the Fontaine's took ownership of the F-1, including the tailgate and stake pockets (a common occurrence on the early F-1s as they tend to trap moisture). A few of the more interesting features on the truck are the handmade steel lower front fenders, one-piece rear rollpan, and frenched '53 Buick taillights, all hammered out by Jeff Tygret, before he sprayed the entire truck in PPG GM factory basecoat with flattener and no clear. All the exterior chrome items were also replaced, yielding a classic pickup with all the shiny bits once again in their original state. New glass was then installed by Steve at Thumpers Classic Glass in Huber Heights, Ohio, using rubber from Hot Rod's Classic Trucks.
Inside, Peggy continues the story, "The truck already had a nicely re-covered stock bench seat in black and white roll and pleat as well as white pleated door panels, so my husband and I simply cleaned them up. We installed insulation on the floor and topped it with new carpet and a set of black seatbelts that my husband found at a swap meet. The dash (once red), was stripped and painted black and now holds a swap meet insert filled with Stewart-Warner gauges, a chrome speaker grille, and radio delete plate we found on eBay. A Mustang column and shifter that was originally in the truck was discarded and replaced with an original '49 truck column and an old style turn signal assembly topped with a '50 Ford passenger wheel, donated by Milo and restored by my husband, swap meet horn ring, and horn button featuring Achmed the Dead Terrorist (from the comedian Jeff Dunham). The wiring is from Ron Francis and was originally installed by the previous owner.
"The first big car show we attended was Goodguys Columbus in 2009 and the attention the truck received was more than I expected. The truck turned out far better than I expected and I plan on keeping it for awhile ... at least 'til the next project rolls in the door."
And that's just how it goes sometimes, doesn't it?