People who’ve spent their whole lives in the Sun Belt might not be familiar with the concept of a “winter driver.” To people in the Snow Belt, it’s as familiar as the sight of a rusted tailpipe lying on the highway.
This ’76 Ford F-100 Fleetside was intended as a winter driver. Jeff Huebner of Belmont, Michigan, picked it up for $1,000 so he wouldn’t have to drive his Mustang through snow and slush. As it turned out, he liked the truck better. So he sold the Mustang and saved the F-100.
Part of the truck’s appeal was that it was in good condition and loaded with options, including power steering, power brakes, A/C, a 390 engine, automatic transmission, and Posi rearend. When he decided to transform the pickup from temporary transportation into something a little more special, he began gathering parts. At the time, replacement sheetmetal parts, trim pieces, gas tanks, and other components were still available from Ford.
With the exception of the engine and transmission, Jeff did all the work himself. He said that he built the truck with a theme in mind: If Ford had offered the SVT Lightning edition in the mid ’70s, what would it look like? This is his answer.
The truck had come from Washington State and the body was in decent condition, but Jeff swapped the cab and pickup box with rust-free replacements to avoid having to repair the sheetmetal. He shaved some emblems to clean up the lines, and bought new-old-stock door handles to replace the originals. The grille is also N.O.S. with a 1973 insert, and Hella headlights in place of the factory lights. The outside mirrors were taken from a ’92 Ford. The bed’s custom tonneau cover was created from aluminum square tubing frame with Haartz convertible material stretched over an aluminum top. With the bodywork complete, Jeff shot the mint green finish using DuPont Imron paint.
For the right wheels and tires to meet the truck’s street performance/show truck personality, Jeff chose 18x9.5 and 17x7 five-spoke wheels from Billet Specialties. Michelin tires measuring 255/55R18 and 225/55R17 complete the combination.
The cab interior was treated to Dynamat and Dynaliner insulation to cut down on heat and noise. Jeff’s F-100 was an XLT model and retains the top-of-the-line interior trim, which featured details such as cloth seats with vinyl trim, carpet, chrome door panel trim, dash trim, and factory air. A set of ’92 Ford lumbar-support seats take the place of the originals, and have been upholstered in cloth.
The 390 engine has been painted Mercury Outboard Green and detailed to look like a factory hi-po engine. Todd Hunt in Coopersville, Michigan, bored the block 0.030-over and port-matched the heads before reassembling the engine with a Comp Cams camshaft and valves. Ignition comes from an electronic Ford Duraspark system. An Edelbrock intake is topped with a Holley 4160 600-cfm carburetor.
The stock air cleaner has been modified for dual air inlets. On the exhaust side, Dynomax headers run to custom-built 2½-inch exhaust tubes with Flowmaster Delta Flow mufflers. The stock radiator was re-cored and reinstalled. The column-shifted C6 was rebuilt by George’s Transmission in Grand Rapids. It’s been modified with a B&M shift kit and a TCI StreetFighter converter. At the far end of the driveshaft (painted red, white, and blue, to celebrate the truck’s bicentennial heritage), 3.25:1 gears fill the 9-inch rearend, complete with factory limited-slip.
The truck sits on the factory framerails, modified with a few custom suspension components. The mounting points were raised for the front suspension. Twin I-beam axles from AIM Industries are dropped 3 inches, lowering the stance. Taking half a coil out of the NAPA front springs, and de-arched rear leafs on modified hangers brings things down a little more. NAPA shocks were mounted at each corner. The front and rear brakes are OEM Ford drums.
Building the truck was a one-and-a-half-year project for Jeff. You can see for yourself how nice it turned out. And you can trust Jeff’s word that it rides as good as it looks. He’s been enjoying driving it, mostly during the warmer months (its “winter driver” days are behind it). The most enjoyable ride was the 3,600-mile round trip Jeff and his dad took in 2011, from Michigan to Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats. As he told us, “We met great people we wouldn’t have met in a rental car.”