You can't blame somebody for not wanting to subject their fresh homebuilt project vehicle to some aggressive performance flogging. But you can tell them about Mark Coleman, who drove his just finished '53 F-100 to the Goodguys Nashville Nationals and ran it, again and again, through the Street Challenge AutoCross.

When Mark got to Nashville, he was eager to enter the show 'n' shine, but more eager to enter the AutoCross to find out how the truck handled with Corvette suspension. Turns out, it handled better than the smaller and lighter roadsters competing against him, and ended up winning the AutoCross in the Street Rod class. He also took home a Top 100 award from Street Rodder magazine at the same event.

This was Mark's second time building the '53, which he has owned since 1977 when he bought the F-100 from a high school friend. When not driving it, he was building it up and showing it. That ended in 1991, when the truck was wrecked in an accident. It went into a barn and stayed there for a dozen years. Mark always intended to rebuild the '53, but he was busy with several other F-100 projects during that time. His '56 panel truck was shaved and smoothed with "things that go out of style" as he put it. His '55 extended cab followed a nostalgic resto theme with steelies, emblems, and a roll 'n' pleat interior. When he decided to start in on the neglected '53, he opted for something in between. Not trendy and not retro. Mark said, "I wanted this one to be timeless," and he wanted it to handle.

Part of the effort to keep it "timeless" was to keep the exterior fairly stock looking, adding custom elements that enhanced the stock appearance instead of eliminating it. Every change made was intended to look as if it could have come from the factory.

Mark pulled in the front bumper and added a pair of '34 Ford commercial headlights with custom-built trim rings. A '34 V-8 emblem was added to the smoothed grille to match the headlights. He smoothed the side cowl vents and removed the replaced the side windows and vents with smoke-tint one-piece windows from Vintage Glass. A big rear window from a '56 F-100 was added in back.

After thinking about red, Mark changed his mind and painted the truck Mystic Silver, using Matrix System paint. "The paint turned out a little slicker than planned," he said. He added that he had never been a fan of silver exteriors with red interiors, but this combination converted him. Good thing because it's red all over, from the custom dash to the home-built buckets. Mark made the seats by modifying a pair of original bench frames. When he was done, "Thumper" took over and covered them in Ultraleather. The 14-inch steering wheel is an Outlaw model from Billet Specialties' line of half-wrap wheels. Mark installed gauges from TPI-Tech Instruments, air conditioning from Danhard, and a Sony head unit with Xplod speakers (with color-coordinated red cones).

This is a Ford-powered F-100. The engine compartment is loaded with an owner-built '84 302. The tall K&N air cleaner tops a 600-cfm Holley and Power+Plus manifold, with a pair of BBK equal-length shorty headers at the other end. The T5 five-speed transmission and shifter are also owner-built.