Close your eyes for a minute. Now picture this: Southern California; Pacific Coast Highway up through Malibu; Blue sky, sunshine, and winter temperatures in the high 70s; Sailboats and surfers playing out in the Pacific Ocean. On PCH, Hollywood types missing shifts in their Italian sports cars and weekend Harley warriors heading up to their Sunday get-togethers at some canyon coffee house. Suntanned California girls in convertibles, peering over their sunglasses, smiling at youyeah youas you cruise past in your Baywatch red Big-Window ’56 F-100. Livin’ the dream.
Okay, you can open your eyes now. Nice image, isn’t it? Now imagine this. You’re Richard Flamminio and this is your truck and you’re livin’ the dream for real.
Richard lives in Malibu, California, about a mile from Pacific Coast Highway and has owned a few cool cool cars in his lifebut not always. His first car was a ’54 Ford Crestline. It was kind of a wreck, he remembers. But it was his carsomething to work on, drive, and have fun with. Nicer rides followed, but nothing that would fall into the hot rod category. His friend George, who builds hot rods, kept encouraging him to get one.
When Richard was a teenager even before the Crestlinehe learned how to drive in his best friend’s dad’s ’56 Ford pickup, and his interest in these trucks never left him. He told George, If you can find me a 1956 Big-Window pickup, I would be seriously interested.
George, as it turned out, knew a painter who happened to have an unfinished project in his shop. I went to see the truck, Richard said. It was partially painted and in pieces. George guaranteed me that it would be put together and running in a month. He went back a month later it was put together and it was runningthanks to a Ford 351C and C6 transmission. Is this Richard’s dream truck? Not yet, but a good start. Another friend recommended Rodworks, in West Los Angeles, for getting the ’56 into the condition he wanted. Richard talked to Jerry Lechich at Rodworks and the final transformation began. I wanted a clean driver, Richard said, good-looking; something that will make people say, Wow, look at that!’ but still looks like a truck.
The ’56 still rides on the stock framerails, but the front end was built-up with a Mustang II independent suspension package from Total Cost Involved (TCI), including power rack-and-pinion steering. The rear is a TCI four-link setup, with 3.70:1 gears spinning in the Ford 9-inch Posi rearend. RideTech air suspension was installed all around. The RidePro digital control system sets up the truck for the ideal ride height or the most impressive rake. Richard can drop the ’56 an inch from the pavement if he wants.
Richard likes the looks of 351 Windsors, so the Cleveland engine in the truck was replaced with a built-up 351W crate engine from Ford Racing; an AOD transmission took the place of the C6. A Holley two-pump carburetor provides plenty of fuel and air. The beltdrive system and stainless inner fender walls brighten up the engine compartment and the ribbed air cleaner cover and valve covers dress things up even more. Powertrain custom headers complete the package, feeding into a pair of MagnaFlow headers.
The body and paint were in good condition when Richard got the truck, and no cutting was done to modify the stock lines of the ’56 body. The grille looks clean minus the V-8 emblem, but the front and side hood emblems were retained. The bed was finished with a ’56 repro kit. A No Limit 20-gallon gas tank was mounted underneath with the filler relocated from the side to the bed. Jerry at Rodworks bisected a Harley Sportster fender to build a pair of wheeltubs, which clear the rear wheels even when the truck is aired down. The Case red paint (as in Case tractors) was shot at George Gray’s Paint Shop, in Van Nuys, California. Goodyear rubber is wrapped around 17-inch Boyd Coddington wheels from the Legend series. In addition to giving the pickup’s hot rod identity a bump, the five-spokes show off the Baer brakes mounted behind them.
Mike Ambrose Custom Interiors, in North Hills, California, did a beautiful job transforming the Glide Engineering split back bench with German leather upholstery. The tan is highlighted with red and suede inserts. More suede covers the headliner. An aluminum panel was created for the VDO Cockpit Royale gauges kit. The Lecarra Mark 9 steering wheel sits on an ididit tilt column.
The ’56 turned out to be everything Richard had hoped for: a good-looking, clean driver that still looks like a truck. And people really do say, Wow, look at that! Since it’s been finished, Richard has been out there having fun driving itfrequently on Pacific Coast Highway and almost always accompanied by his cruising companion, Milo the wonder rescue dog. Livin’ the dream. CCT