If ever there was a hobby that demanded the ability to visualize the future, it has to be restoring old trucks. Seeing what they look like, rusting in the field, and visualizing what they could be on the show circuit takes a special kind of talent. When Jeff Bennett from Resaca, Georgia, first saw this 1955 Ford, it was in very bad shape. To put things in perspective, he acquired the F-100 by trading two lawnmowers for it. Fortunately, Jeff is one of those guys with the time, talent, and tenacity to bring the derelict hulk back to better-than-new condition.
A bulldozer operator by trade, Jeff does all his own automotive work and began the 18-month rejuvenation process by boxing the original Ford frame and incorporating the first of several Chevrolet parts into his Blue Oval. “One year hard,” he says smiling. In order to modernize the front suspension, he added a 1970 Chevelle front clip, using tubular A-arms and dropped spindles up front, along with his own four-link suspension holding a Camaro 10-bolt rear. Both the front and rear were modified to accommodate the Ride Tech air suspension components, and once the ’bags were in place Jeff installed the compressor under the bed and the reserve tank under the driver seat. Stopping power comes from the Wilwood Dynalite Big Brake kit with 13-inch disc brakes on all four wheels. He finished off the chassis mods with an 18-gallon fuel cell under the bed.
Lots of sheetmetal work was required on the body, beginning by replacing all four cab corners. The original bed was not salvageable, so Jeff chose a replacement from Early Fords. In order to keep the lines smooth, the tailgate was welded shut, the bed floor was raised 2 inches to accommodate the slammed suspension, and subtle oval taillights from Lokar were cut into the roll pan. As you’ll see, the oval theme runs throughout the truck. Miniature running board extensions connect the 3-inch wider rear fenders to the tailgate and a Pickled Oak wood floor completes the bed. The front fenders also received their share of attention, cut and moved 2 inches rearward to position the tire in the center of the wheelwell. To ensure the running boards blended into the new fender contours, Jeff made them thicker and wider, then added chrome oval exhaust tips. Up front, the painted and chromed ’55 grille uses ’56 headlight bezels with turn signals incorporated into the headlights. A second set of signals appears in the new sideview mirrors. The chrome front bumper was tucked in 3 inches closer to the body and the tilt-forward hood now sports a unique, faired-in, vintage Ford emblem.
Inside, the Blue Oval receives a few more Bow Tie enhancements, beginning with the distinctive 1959 Chevrolet dash. The Honda Accord seats were positioned inside a Corvette-style sheetmetal surround and separated by a free-form, sheetmetal center console. Stover Mufflers in Chatsworth, Georgia, handled the Bone Ostrich leather upholstery, but Jeff did everything else. The oval gauge pod on the dash comes from American Classics and the oval outlets from Vintage Air’s air conditioner keep the cabin cool. A Billet Specialties wheel resides on an ididit column and Billet Specialties door handles continue the theme. Jeff added his own stereo, locating the JVC head unit in the custom overhead console and outfitting the new door panels with a pair of two-way speakers. The doors are now equipped with single pane glass.
The final Chevy addition resides under the forward-tilt hood. Making the Ford tough with Chevy stuff, the 1967 Corvette 327 V-8 was bored 0.030 over, fitted with a Holly 670 TBI fuel injection, mild cam, Pete Jackson geardrive, March pulley system, and Sanderson headers. Jeff’s talent with metalwork is obvious when you realize the custom air cleaner on the engine was made from a motorcycle gas tank. Polished recovery tanks and billet accents finish off the painted engine room and the Be Cool aluminum radiator keeps temps in the green. The modern Turbo 400 trans gets the power to the 20-inch Foose Legend rims in the rear, wrapped in Toyo rubber. Eighteen-inch versions roll up front.
With the end almost in sight, Jeff did his own paintwork, spraying the bright House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl to complete the three-year build. His goal was to be ready for the May 2011 F-100 Super Nationals in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The bed was the last item installed, completed on May 9th two days before the show. With only three miles registering on the truck’s odometer, we photographed the truck May 12th at the event. Now that’s close timing! Jeff sends special thanks to Rodney Lock for all of his help. CCT