Neil then went on the hunt for a suitable motor. He came across a 351 Windsor at Performance Unlimited in Freehold, New Jersey, which he felt would do the trick in his ’57. With an Edelbrock 695-cfm four-barrel on top and a set of Hooker headers, this little package pushed out 425 horsepower—plenty of juice to propel the truck down the Garden State’s back roads.
For a trans, Neil selected an AOD, three-speed automatic with overdrive. The engine/transmission combo would be perfect for the build theme, as Neil wanted to drive the hell out of his ride. Next, these pieces were set in and mocked up with the chassis. Once this was done, the truck’s cab, fenders, and hood were test fit to finish the mockup. After the OK was given, it was all torn down for its specific coatings.
The body was sprayed with an epoxy primer, bodywork was smoothed, and a healthy dose of Monaco Blue base/clear was applied. The dark blue almost looks black in lower light, but pops nicely out in the bright sunlight. The chassis also received a helping of flat black paint, for an old-school look.
Next, attention was given to the bed. A kit from Blue Oval Parts contained all the necessary goodies to return the back end of this truck to life. Panels, fenders, wood, and stainless steel hardware were all included in this particular kit. It was assembled and test fit, and once again broken down for paint. The wood was sanded and shellacked, rubbed with steel wool, and then varnished to finish it off. Metal pieces received epoxy primer and paint, in preparation for final assembly.
The cab was remounted along with the doors, and the gas tank was placed out back. With that, the bed was reassembled and laid out back. Flowmaster 2½-inch exhaust was then added to the mix, continuing the flow of gasses from the Hooker headers up front.
The interior was the next hurdle. All glass was in good shape and reused. The floors received a layer of Dynamat to cut down on heat and noise, and a fresh carpet was added to the mix. Vintage Air supplied the cooling effect, Haneline gauges were mounted and a power window kit made getting fresh air a breeze. American Autowire supplied the fuse box and wiring harness.
Vick’s Auto Upholstery dreamed up a nice, subtle remake of the skins and panels. A modern console was placed in between the driver and passenger and a Flaming River tilt steering column keeps this Ford pointed in the right direction.
Outside, shaved handles give the truck a sleek look. Emblems and bumpers were supplied by Mac’s Auto. This Blue Oval rides on steel American Racing rims, with 15x8s up front and 16x10s out back. These wheels are wrapped in Cooper Cobra skins; 245/60R15 up front and big 295/50R16 meats in the rear.
With his past behind him, Neil is out cruising the streets in the first ride he ever purchased. His life has been a long, bumpy road and at times he felt like he was creeping backward, and not making progress. But now his life is firing on all cylinders and driving down the road in a ride he dreamed about as a kid is definitely a euphoric experience, and worth the effort put forth.
Neil would like to thank his wife Jen for putting up with his shenanigans, his parents for believing in their son and pushing him when life was putting the pressure on. He would also like to give a shout out to Bob Evans for the inspiration and Tony Cirillo at Muscle Car Restoration in Bayville for their collaboration on this project.