Like most old trucks, this one has a story to tell. The truck was purchased new in Kansas and the original owner kept the truck into the '80s. While we're not certain how, the truck found its way to the Early Ford and Mercury Swap Meet in Wayne, Michigan. It was there that Bob and Linda Lupa discovered the old truck and struck a deal, thereby becoming the second owners of this first-year F-100.
The truck came home to the Lupa garage, but there were other hot rod projects in progress, so the truck was rolled into the corner, patiently waiting its turn. As so often happens, weeks become months, months become years, and when the Lupas made the move from Michigan to Tennessee in 1998 the old original truck came with them. Once again the truck was put on hold and another six years passed, until finally in 2004, Bob Lupa began work on the '53. Parts were acquired and it appeared the truck would finally be finished, but sadly Bob Lupa's health was failing and he passed away before the project was anywhere near complete.
After several years Linda decided she wanted to finish the truck and was lucky enough to have Bob Hancock and his Southern Street Performance shop right in her hometown of Kodak, Tennessee. Linda also had the help and support of an active street rod community, especially Bud and Joanne Ciotti. And so the truck rolled into Southern Street Performance for a complete frame-up build.
Up front, a Fatman Fabrications front suspension was installed providing power rack-and-pinion steering, disc brakes, and good handling in one package. Out back a pair of monoleaf springs mount the 8-inch Ford rear that carries 3.00:1 gears and drum brakes. A CPP power master cylinder applies the binders with minimal effort and a new ABS Tanks fuel tank replaced the old rusted unit.
The original plan for the truck was to keep it all Ford and to that end a 1979 351ci Windsor was rebuilt by Bob Hancock and then mated to a C6 transmission of the same year. A Griffin aluminum radiator and twin fans cool the Windsor, while an Edelbrock carburetor and intake provide fuel and Sanderson headers exit the spent gases through Flowmaster mufflers. All of the aluminum atop the motor was treated to a perfect brushed finish; the result is a subtle high-performance appearance with minimal maintenance.
When it came time for the bodywork, modifications were kept to a minimum. The Dennis Carpenter Reproductions stainless steel bumpers now reside closer to the body and the tailgate chains have given way to a Dan Carpenter Specialties hidden latch kit that redefines the term "clean." Beyond these modifications it was pure restoration of the original truck, followed by PPG Glacier Blue paint, the same color the truck wore in 1953 when it rolled off the assembly line. Wayne Ryleigh handled both the bodywork and the paint.
Continuing with the understated theme, the interior of the truck was fitted with a bench seat from a 1990 Silverado, the cab was lined with Dynamat, and a complete Ron Francis Wiring kit was installed. The Vintage Air controls and ducts reside in the lower dashboard valance from Dan Carpenter Specialties, while a Lecarra wheel tops off the ididit steering column. The stock gauge cluster was refurbished and converted to 12 volts before being reinstalled in the original location. With all the fabrication done, the truck was brought to Kirk's Kustom Upholstery in Corryton, Tennessee. The upholstery was kept simple by design with gray leather and charcoal carpets, but Kirk's always adds detail and a keen eye will notice the arm rests are shaped in the form of the side trim on the hood.
And so after a long wait, Linda Lupa finally had her F-100 ready for the open road. Built with reliable driving in mind, the truck has proven to be extremely roadworthy. On any given weekend you might find the old hauler on the way to a rod run, or better yet, pulling a matching Glacier Blue teardrop camper through the local Smoky Mountains. It all proves the old adage, "Good trucks come to those who wait."