The F-100 Supernationals is a show that should be on the bucket list of every Blue Oval-blooded truck fan. The event takes place in Pigeon Forge, in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. Even after the trucks leave town, this part of eastern Tennessee is one of the most scenic places in the whole country.
A few miles up the road from Pigeon Forge is the city of Newport, where—if you know where to look—you’ll find another one of the area’s most impressive local attractions. You won’t see it listed in the travel books, so we’re showing it to you here.
Rodney Buckner told us that even before he started working on this eye-catchin’ red ’49 Ford F-1, he was designing the truck in his imagination. Nothing drastic, he told us, just a more contemporary style with some big wheels and a few other surprises to make it unique. After he bought the truck—basically just a cab and frame—from his cousin, it sat for a while before he started turning it into what he had imagined.
You can see from these photos that Rodney’s updates and upgrades are numerous but not over the top. He relied on good taste instead of radical reworking, and hard work instead of a big budget. It didn’t hurt that Rodney grew up in a family of automotive enthusiasts, has been building cars and trucks his whole life, and now owns the local street rod parts store.
Changes to the exterior were done consistent with Rodney’s “nothing drastic” plans. Alan Shepherd got involved early with some sheetmetal patching and stuck around to help with other body, chassis, interior, and assembly chores. The top is unchopped and the body was lowered over the frame. Rodney used the stock hood and grille with stainless grille bars and front bumper. Headlights and taillights are stock as well. The fenders and running boards are fiberglass replacements form Be Bops. Aftermarket stainless swan neck mirrors were added to both sides and one-piece tinted windows were installed. The door handles were shaved and every emblem and piece of exterior trim was eliminated. Filling the hood front vent holes and the cowl vent cleans things up even more. The bed came from Dan Carpenter’s Specialties, in Norwood, North Carolina, with a roll pan added below. The bed floor is oak, with no boltholes in the stainless steel strips.
Rodney needed the paint to be just the right red—not dark, but not too orange. He found what he wanted on a ’54 Ford he’d seen. It’s a ’94 Ford truck color called Ultra Red, and was sprayed on the ’49 by Bruce White in Rutledge, Tennessee.
The choice of rolling stock is consistent with Rodney’s “some big wheels” plan, but again, nothing drastic or distracting. He ordered 18s and 20s from Billet Specialties, selecting these five-spokes with spinner caps from the Vintec line. The radial tires are Cooper Discover H/T light-truck tires, measuring 255/55R18 and 275/45R20.
Those outward mods are just the beginning of the story. Underneath, the stock chassis needed some attention to make the truck ride the way Rodney wanted. The stock framerails were boxed and a Heidts Mustang II-style IFS with 2-inch dropped spindles was installed, hanging on Mustang springs and gas shocks. Keeping up at the other end, a ’61 Ford 9-inch with Posi spins Currie axles suspended by leaf springs. A Power Master cylinder and booster from Master Power Brakes control the 11-inch front disc brakes and rear drums.
A friend sold Rodney the ’74 351W that powers the truck. When Stanley Allison had finished the machining, Jim Thomas and the owner built it up, adding an Edelbrock 4V carb and manifold for induction, and Sanderson headers and Flowmasters for exhaust—and to dress things up, there’s the Billet Specialties air cleaner and Street & Performance pulleys and brackets. Rodney said, “It’s got some umph to it,” and he rates the engine at around 415 hp. The transmission is a column-shifted small-block C6 with a Dayco converter, built by Tooley Automatic Transmission Service in Morristown, Tennessee.
When it was time to finish the interior, the ’49 went a couple miles across Newport to Clark’s Trim Shop, where the ISS bench seat and door panels were stitched in tan leather. Albert Shepherd built a clean custom dash and Ronnie’s Custom Machining built the aluminum custom dash inserts for the VDO gauges. A Billet Specialties Vintec steering wheel, styled similarly to the BS rims, was mounted on an ididit tilt shifter column.
But getting back to the F-100 Supernationals, that’s where we ran across the ’49, all finished and in the process of winning a well-deserved Top 20 award and ready to be photographed for this story. Congratulations on both counts, Rodney! CCT