Sometimes ideas and plans can live on in concept form for decades until they finally come to fruition. It’s easy to comprehend, especially when at a young age a particular fascination consumes your thoughts, be it a type of architecture, a career path, or better yet, a style of classic truck. For Dick Schaeffer of Severna Park, Maryland, his obsession with classic trucks started back in the ’60s with his high school daily driver.
There’s nothing cooler than standing apart from the rest and it was easy for Dick to do with a ’54 International hauler packed with Chevy big-block power. Driving the International for a number of years, he spent plenty of time wrenching on it and learning from the experiences it brought along. It was at that time when his appreciation of Ford trucks began to evolve.
As the years moved along there were a number of neat rides occupying his garage including a 1969 Mustang Mach 1, a pair of Jaguar XKEs, and even a small-block-Chevy-powered Datsun 280Z, all of which he put plenty of miles on. Somehow though his plans for a classic Ford truck were kept on the backburner and never forgotten. It’s always fun to come to the realization that its time to take on a quest that will eventually lead you to nirvana.
A few years before his retirement, Dick decided to start looking for a 1948 Ford pickup to act as a springboard for the truck he had been building in the back of his mind since he was a teen. He chose the ’48 model year due to a combination of the year’s style and fact that he was also born in ’48. Sounds simple right? Well anyone out there knows that it can take quite a bit of time to locate just the right base to start your project with. For Dick it meant lots of time searching and networking both on the web and through phone calls to come up with a winner. One day he received a call from a good friend passing through Omaha, Nebraska, who came across a near rust-free, complete truck with a great story behind it.
As with most trucks, they’re born to serve a life of hard work once they leave the production line. It’s almost impossible to find one still in its original state that hasn’t been abused, let alone one where its ownership can be traced back to when it was first sold. Dick followed up on the lead and soon discovered not only was the truck in fact rust free, but that there were only two prior owners. Even though it was a ’49 (and not a ’48) his interest in it piqued especially since visually the 1948 and 1949 models are very similar.
Contacting the current owner he was advised that the F-1 was originally sold to a farmer in Utah with a six-cylinder engine and four-speed trans. It served the farmer well for over 30 years and was then sold off to a mechanic in California who enjoyed it for another 30 years, taking it with him to Omaha when he retired. He began gathering parts for its restoration, but the project languished in his garage till it was offered up for sale. After hearing the stories and seeing the pictures of it, Dick wasted no time in making a deal and having the truck shipped back to Maryland.
Living on the East Coast and being a fan of classic transportation, you would certainly be familiar with many of the superbly crafted hot rods, muscle cars, and classic trucks that have rolled out of The Hot Rod Garage in Denton, Maryland. Dick was no stranger to the work that Ray Bartlett and his team of dedicated craftsman had turned out, so when it came time to take on the build of the ’49 there was no question as to who he would have do the job. After meeting with Bartlett, the pair laid out a plan for the rebirth of the truck with an infusion of subtle, well-thought-out enhancements to bring a whole new level of design elements to the F-1.
Seeing that this would be a full build, the team got started by tearing the truck down to bare bones to evaluate what could be saved and what would need replacement. It was not going to be a stock restoration; many of the components such as the rolling chassis and driveline would be replaced by more modern components. For a rock-solid spine a call was placed to Total Cost Involved Engineering for one of their complete chassis, featuring their exclusive 8-inch main ’rails which are fully boxed with center section and all crossmembers installed.
To handle planting the power out back, a Currie 9-inch rear filled with 3.0:1 gears and 31-spline axles was suspended in place by a combination of TCI Engineering parallel leaf springs complemented by a matching antiroll bar, and Monroe tube shocks. To set the nose in the dirt and add razor-sharp handling a TCI Engineering IFS was set in place up front, featuring custom tubular upper and lower control arms with coil springs and Monroe tube shocks deftly matched to TCI Engineering 2-inch drop spindles and an antiroll bar all linked to a power rack-and-pinion box.
When it comes time to tame the beast, custom swing pedals by Beau Wilkins at the Hot Rod Garage push fluid through a Master Power 8-inch dual master cylinder via stainless lines to 11-inch Ford drums out back and TCI Engineering 11-inch vented discs and calipers up front. To add plenty of allure, a set of Billet Specialties Rival G wheels in 17x7-inch front and 17x8-inch rear diameters were shod with Goodyear RSA rubber to stick the F-1 to the road.
There’s something to be said about maintaining the purity of a build by installing a matching driveline. Dick made the decision to keep his project all Ford and contacted Proformance Unlimited in Freehold, New Jersey, to build a wicked 408ci small-block V-8. Starting with 351ci Windsor block as a base, the team bored the block, added a 4.00-inch stroke, and blueprinted and balanced the entire rotating assembly. An Eagle forged stroker crank was linked to matching I-beam rods wearing SRP slugs, while a COMP Cams stick sets the pace.
Up top a set of Dart aluminum heads filled with stainless valves were matched to an Edelbrock Air-Gap RPM intake, breathing deep through a Holley 750-cfm carb. For dazzle, a Mooneyes finned air cleaner with matching valve covers were plated by Jon Wright’s Custom Chrome Plating and treated to gold accents. An MSD ignition lights the fire, dumping spent gasses through Sanderson headers to a custom Hot Rod Garage-designed 2½-inch exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers. Sending the power rearward, a TCI Automotive Street Fighter Ford C4 trans and torque converter was matched to a custom driveshaft by A1 Driveshafts of Baltimore, Maryland.
With the loaded chassis complete, The Hot Rod Garage continued working their magic with all of the subtle enhancements to the exterior sheetmetal of the truck. To add a well-balanced feel they first raised the front and rear fender wheel openings 1 inch and re-radiused the areas followed by lengthening the bottom of the front fenders, doors, and cab corners by 1 inch to cover the rocker panels and to also line up with the bottom of the running boards.
Continuing on, the team then sectioned the rearmost area of the back fenders by 1½ inches and followed by fabbing a custom rear roll pan. The bumpers are artwork in and of themselves with the front using a modified ’48 Ford passenger car unit, while out back a ’69 Ford van bumper was narrowed 5 inches and re-contoured to accent the rear fenders. Looking for more subtlety, the cowl vent was filled, ’55 Ford F-100 door handles were added, the hood received custom one-piece stainless side molding as well as one-piece D-moldings and turn signals that were shaved and incorporated into the headlights. Once all the metalwork was completed the truck was handed over to team member Jason Lester to make every panel razor sharp followed by filling his spray gun with plenty of PPG custom-blended root beer vibe to lay down the luster.
Rounding the corner it was time to focus on the interior and add just as much elegance inside. Team leader Dean Alexander pulled out all the stops and started by fitting a modified ’55 Ford F-100 dash in place, complete with a custom gauge insert by Beau Wilkins packed with dials by Classic Instruments. Alexander continued on by covering a modified Glide Engineering seat frame with plenty of butter soft fawn leather along with the door and kick panels, and complete headliner, while the floors were accented in chocolate wool cut-pile carpet.
At the same time, wiring was handed over to team member Henry Steward with cool breezes courtesy of Vintage Air and a custom covered Lecarra steering wheel linked to a Flaming River tilt column with a column shifter that plots the course. The completed truck is nothing short of breathtaking and it’s great to hear that Dick has already laid down the first 2,500 miles without a hint of slowing down. To us that’s just plain bitchin’!