If anybody deserves cool toys, Brandon Archer does. As an active-duty Army pilot flying aeromedical evacuation, Brandon spends a lot of time far from his home in Killeen, Texas, and far from fun. And after flying UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, it probably takes an out-of-the-ordinary car or truck to keep him excited.
After his last deployment to Iraq, Brandon had banked enough money to buy a real nice ride: an all-original, one-owner, low-mile ’66 Mustang convertible. Driving the Mustang ignited his interest in owning something else—another high-performance Ford, but a truck this time. Something custom, combining classic and contemporary components. Something with all the modern amenities, enough style to make a statement when he takes it to a show, and enough power to make him smile when he drives it on the street.
He’s always been a fan of F-100s, so the search started there, and ended when he found the perfect ’55 for his project—a cab on the stock chassis with the potential to become what Brandon wanted. It turned out to be an ambitious build, but with help from Terry Price, Brandon had his F-100 done in four years. Its public debut was at the 2012 Goodguys Spring Lone Star Nationals in Fort Worth.
When the project started, the body and bed were pulled off the frame to perform the sheetmetal work that was required to make the F-100 this straight. The ’55 F-100 body doesn’t call for a lot of improvements (if any) and Brandon kept the lines factory, making changes by losing the front and rear bumpers, replacing seals, and perfecting seams. He kept the hood emblems in place, and cleaned up the profile by shaving the door handles and replacing the vent windows with one-piece glass. Tri-bar headlights light the way at night.
The bed was transformed with a smoothed tailgate, built by Brandon. The license plate and taillights were frenched into the rollpan, which is another owner-fabricated piece. The taillights are two-of-a-kind prototypes he got from Mid Fifty F-100 Parts in Golden Valley, Arizona. The wheel tubs extend far into the bed, where aluminum diamond plate covers the floor.
The right paint color was never in doubt. Brandon has developed a preference for red, partly because of the fire trucks he remembers from his father’s career as a fireman, and partly from the color of the crosses painted on the Black Hawk he flies. Viper Red is about the brightest there is, and Homer Plentl of Belton, Texas, made sure the ’55 was completely covered, spraying DuPont ChromaBase paint.
The interior modifications update the F-100 by about five decades. The work was handled at Ick’s Upholstery in Killeen. It took a lot of leather to wrap those Lexus power seats. The center panels of the high-back buckets and doors were inlayed with seamed ostrich leather, also used to cover the entire headliner. Ick’s used the same color for both types of leather to keep it low-key, then went high-impact with plenty of bright red piping.
A custom-built center console separates the seats and houses the cup holders, Lokar shifter, controls for the Vintage Air A/C, and the Pioneer stereo unit and Polk speakers. The custom armrest features more leather and ostrich upholstery. The factory dash was completely smoothed and painted; headlight and wiper knobs were relocated to the column drop. The worn-out gauges were replaced with Classic Instruments gauges in a custom panel. A leather-wrapped steering wheel from Hot Rods by Boyd is mounted on a Flaming River tilt column.
A look under the hood will convince you that all that style is backed up by some muscle. And Ford fans will be happy to see something familiar for a change. The firewall was modified to fit a ’68 Ford HO 347 (a stroked 302), built by Terry Price. Wiseco 10.5:1 pistons and rings fill the cylinders, with Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads topped with Ford Racing valve covers. A KMJ shotgun scoop feeds fresh air to a Summit Racing 750-cfm double pumper carburetor and Edelbrock Air-Gap intake. A pair of custom-built Tri-Y headers draw the exhaust. Backing up the 425hp engine is a Ford C4 transmission with a B&M Holeshot converter and a trans cooler from Performance Rod & Custom.
Further back, the Ford 8.8-inch rearend is equipped with 3.73 gears and a Posi. Rear suspension consists of factory leafs and RideTech shocks. The Mustang II frontend includes 2-inch drop spindles, crossmember, and springs, plus RideTech shocks and a sway bar. A Flaming River rack-and-pinion replaces the stock steering. The original unmodified frame has been powdercoated by Price.
The pickup keeps its grip on the road with some meaty 295/40R20 and 225/55R17 Toyo Proxes tires. The radials are mounted on 20x10 and 17x8.5 Boyd Coddington five-spoke wheels. Mustang II disc brakes at the front and drums in the rear bring things to a halt without a problem.
Brandon will miss his screaming red F-100 when he is deployed overseas again in 2013, so while he’s home he’s enjoying the truck as much as possible. He drives it to work about once a week, and he and his wife Jean cruise it on the weekend. When a local show comes around, the ’55 F-100 is usually in attendance, where it’s impossible to miss.