When you're 16 years old, life moves at a fast pace. Your mouth writes checks your proverbial butt can't cash, your vast amount of assumed knowledge is light years ahead of your actual knowledge, and dreams run much wilder than your wallet. Yet there is light at the end of the tunnel. For most things come full circle and eventually meet at an equal playing ground. On that ground dreams become reality. For Clayton Lashley his dreams and vision met head on when he turned 63 years old.
Growing up, Clayton's dad taught him to drive in his '56 Ford F-100. As Clayton cruised the streets of the Midwest his mind often drifted towards vivid visions of customizing the old man's truck. However, Clayton's pocketbook and skill didn't quite see eye-to-eye with Dad. In light of his misfortunes Clayton had no choice but to wait his turn. Years later-many years later-this '53 F-100 edged its way into the picture for $250! From that point on, Clayton set out to build the Ford that his 16-year-old self wanted back in 1962.
Not only did the look of the Ford need to match Clayton's '60's vision, but the ingenuity needed to as well. Instead of opting to take the chassis into the 21st century Clayton was content to stay in 1962. To bring the nose down to the appropriate stance Clayton installed a 2-inch drop axle with a reversed eyelet spring. The front axle was also moved forward 11/4 inches to satisfy Clayton's vision for the front wheelwell opening. The only feature out of place on the chassis are the '70 Chevy disc brakes mounted at opposing ends of the axle, but Clayton figured he'd sacrifice a bit of nostalgia for safety. In the rear, Clayton picked up a '57 Ford station wagon 9-inch with 3.70 gears. Coupled with the new 9-inch is a set of de-arched '80 Chevy leaf springs.
When it came to power, Clayton asked himself what would he have done in 1962? The answer was to set out and hit the junkyards looking for a Hemi, Cadillac, or Oldsmobile engine; therefore he followed his 16-year-old mind-set. What he found was 331 cubic inches of Chrysler Imperial Hemi power. Clayton had the Hemi bored 0.030 over, and from there installed a set of Egge 9:1 pistons with Sealed Power rings. At the heart of the motor lies an Isky 270 Mega cam with a max lift and duration of 0.450 inch and 220 degrees. Atop the Hemi sits an aluminum hi-rise intake manifold with a 600-cfm Holley carburetor. Various '60's-era speed parts meandered their way into the engine bay, including an original Moon fuel block, finned breather cap, and a chrome "helmet" air cleaner. Mated to the 331 Hemi is a Chevy 700-R4 tranny with a 2,200-stall converter. Combine the overdrive tranny with the 350-horse Hemi and not only is the Ford good for light-to-light action, but long hauls are just as efficient.
From the day Clayton entered the hot rod world he has dabbled in several genres. Whether it's hot rods, customs, or race cars Clayton has found himself knee deep in the throes of all. Pulling bits and pieces of each genre he conjured up the exterior look of his '53. For starters, an inch was taken from the A-pillars for a more streamlined look. Matching the newly reshaped top is the pie-cut hood, which also received a 1-inch slice. Another subtle look up front are the reshaped front fenders. Clayton added 11/2 inches to the rear of the front fender openings for a more symmetrical look. Next, all the door corners were rounded and the vent windows were removed. In the rear, the stake pockets were filled, the edges were rounded, the tailgate chains were removed, and various other little tweaks were performed as well. The key focal points of the bed are the '37 Ford taillights with the custom mounts and the "FirePower" logo from a Hemi valve cover inserted in the tailgate's skin.
With the metalwork finished Clayton was at a loss for color, but Clayton's wife had it all figured out for him, Hugger Orange. As it turned out the color struck a chord with Clayton so he filled up his gun with PPG Hugger Orange. Clayton then called pinstriper Ron Myers to lay down some lines for a distinguished, and period correct, look. The stock Ford rims were painted to match the exterior and outfitted with Spider caps and beauty rings. Finishing things off are a set of whitewalls, 215/70/15s in the front and 265/75/15s in the rear.
Inside the cab Clayton wasted no opportunities to be creative. He started with the dash. Clayton began by smoothing the dash and installing a '62 Ford Fairlane dashpod. Still, something was missing; therefore Clayton built a custom set of awnings to hang over the gauges. Nestled under the Fairlane cluster is a '60 Oldsmobile steering column and wheel painted black and off-white to match the interior colors. Under the dash Clayton installed a '61 Ford hanging pedal assembly. Providing heat and air to the cab of the '53 is a Nostalgia Air unit. Action Auto Trim, in Midwest City, Oklahoma, upholstered the interior in black and white rolls-and-pleats, and they finished the job off with a custom Hugger Orange tonneau cover. It may be a few years after that initial revelation, but as the old saying goes, it truly is better late than never!