Maybe we’re spoiled. No, change that. We are spoiled. If given a choice, we’ll choose "all of the above" every time. We want chocolate and vanilla, fries and a baked potato, paper and plastic, debit and credit, Ford and Chevy, great taste and less filling and cold (and free, if possible).
We’re the same way when it comes to our taste in custom classic trucks. We want custom and classic. And don’t ask us to decide between a show truck and a driver and a work horse because we already found out a long time ago that you don’t have to choose. The best trucks combine all of those elements.
Apparently, a lot of people agree, because we keep running across their trucks. You’re looking at one right now. Dannie Eaves, from Linden, Alabama, is the owner of this multipurpose ’56 Ford extended-cab F-100 that looks good and gets driven and wins trophies and pulls that cool teardrop trailer.
You heard right; ’56 and extended cab. That’s not a combination you see every day, unless you happen to build one. Dannie built this one at Eaves Custom Trucks, the shop he owns as a sideline to his construction company in Demopolis, Alabama. The ’56 Big-Window he started with had been a local school bus repair shop truck. He replaced the rotten floor and cab corners while looking for the right donor truck for the cab extension. It took two cabs and five doors to turn this thing into an extended cab with fully functioning rear doors. Dannie added 20 inches to the length of the cab. The donor doors were narrowed and reversed driver side to passenger side, with the hinge pockets reversed to allow them to open suicide-style.
Extending the cab meant extending the stock ’56 Ford frame by the equivalent 20 inches to keep up. In addition to the stretch, the ’rails were boxed, and bridge notched six inches to lower the truck to an on-the-ground crouch. The stance can be adjusted by the Ride Tech air suspension front and rear. Chubby Chassis built the Mustang II-style front end, and the modified ladder bar rear suspension built at Eaves Custom Trucks.
For looks and function, Dannie packed the wheelwells with plenty of rubber, choosing 255/45ZR18 Michelin Pilot radials on 18x9 Budnik five-spokes in the rear with a pair of 225/45ZR18s rolling on 18x7 rims. Disc brakes do the stopping at all wheels.
The powertrain choice for the truck was another case of wanting "all of the above." What Dannie wanted was a small-block with electronic fuel injection--something that would provide reliable performance and make decent fuel economy and have enough power to pull his trailer and put a smile on his face. The "all of the above" choice was a readily-available 350ci LT1, out of a ’97 Firebird. These engines have been rated at 304 hp. Dannie’s Firebird donor car was generous enough to provide a 4L60E automatic transmission and a 3.73:1 rearend as well. The trans was treated to a B&M shift kit and the driveshaft was lengthened by Precision Drive Shaft to reach all the way to the rearend. The Firebird also donated its wiring harness, which Dannie had to cut down and modify for its new application. "It took some head scratching to get that done," he said.
The bed was kept stock, with oak boards used to build the floor. One of the center boards opens for access to the filler for the 21-gallon aluminum tank. Lani Kaeo gets thanks for helping with bodywork. Tim Tanner from Eaves Customs shot the two-tone paint using DuPont Teal and Silver.
With the extended cab, Dannie’s ’56 needed a rear seat. The owner built a custom bench by following the style of the TEA’s Design split-bucket font bench. M&M Custom Interiors, located in Holly Pond, Alabama, used camel-colored leather on the seats, door panels, and headliner. The steering wheel is Budnik. The factory instruments were replaced with VDO gauges in an aluminum panel, with the lower dash housing the Vintage Air A/C vents, Ride Tech controls, and head unit for the Pioneer stereo.