HRC massaged the original sheetmetal back to original perfection, stripping off the emblems but leaving the handles in place. A stainless front bumper was installed and the rear bumper was eliminated to make way for a custom rear roll pan, with cutouts for the exhaust and a recess for the license plate. The bed wood was replaced with rich looking walnut. Fenders have been widened two inches in back and ½-inch in front—just enough to improve the proportions to Rick’s liking. The rears were modified with flame-shaped openings in the sheetmetal for the taillights and backup lights. Additional flame-oriented style elements include strobe lights mounted in the cowl vent, custom firefighter badge mirrors, badge-shaped emblems in the modified running boards, and Rick’s own badge mounted in the center of the front bumper.

The paint was applied at Hot Rod Construction. Selecting the color was easy. What we’d call “fire engine red” is actually a Spies Hecker color called Victory Red, a little brighter than the Porsche red previously worn by the truck.

The interior is a lot more plush that the typical fire truck cab, sporting a pair of Mazda bucket seats covered in tan leather. Dan Wickett at HRC handled the upholstery work. A center console houses the controls for the RideTech suspension and the Secret Audio sound system operating a six-disc CD changer. The lower dash is shaved smooth except for the air vents for the Vintage Air A/C. VDO gauges replace the stock gauges in the instrument panel. A flame-style billet steering wheel tops the ididit shifter column. The fire axe-shaped door handles and the fire hose nozzle shift knob are billet pieces crafted by Custom Billet Works specifically for this truck.

Rick prefers to maintain The American Firerod Eng. Co. 56 as a show truck rather than a street truck, trailering it to events. Needless to say, the unique ’56 receives a lot of attention wherever its shown. It has garnered a Best of Show award at the F-100 Supernationals and was one of 18 “Best of” winners at the Carolina Open Car Show & Hot Rod Run in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. More important to Rick than those awards is the chance to display the ’56 in commemoration of this country’s fire fighters. CCT