There's nothing like owning a prize-winning show car. Will Myers from Sun City West, Arizona, knows that feeling. A few years ago, his black '53 Studebaker coupe was getting all kinds of attention on the show circuit. But the car required a level of pampering that kept Will from driving it as much as he wanted. When his grandson started college, Will sold it to help with the cost of tuition and started looking around for another custom vehicle.
With the exception of the Stude, Will's classics have all been Fords—including a '55 F-100 loaded with a Ford 429 Cobra Jet. In addition to being an impressive show truck, the '55 was a reliable driver; Will clocked 50,000 miles in the truck. With that in mind, Will decided that his next ride would be another F-100—and had to be a driver. He found what he was looking for on the classifieds page of the Hot Rod Hotline website: a big-window '56 Effie with some classic Ford power under the hood.
When Mel Boling of Haysville, Kansas, bought the '56 F-100 back in 1999, the truck was painted white. The engine compartment was loaded with a Ford 351 Windsor engine and the bed was loaded with hundreds of car and truck magazines. Mel removed the magazines and repainted the body, but retained the Windsor. The rest of the truck was treated to a complete rebuild.
A Total Cost Involved Mustang II style frontend setup, including coilovers and a sway bar, beefs up the suspension. Steering is handled by a Mustang II rack in conjunction with an ididit column. A '75 Ranchero rearend spins 2.73:1 gears and hangs on a mono-leaf spring and center-mount shocks. TCI Engineering front discs and Ford rear drums team up to bring the '56 to a quick halt.
The '83 351 Windsor that was in the truck in 1999 is in it today. Mel Boling went through the engine, building it up to run its best. When Will Myers got the truck, he changed the induction to its current combination of an Edelbrock Performer intake and Edelbrock 650cfm four-barrel carburetor. Will also added a PerTronix ignition system as well as a new radiator shroud and motor mounts. A pair of BBK Performance headers draws the exhaust gases and Flowmaster mufflers turn undesirable exhaust noise into a desirable tone. Backing up the 351W is a Ford C6 transmission, shifted from the ididit steering column.
Most of the bodywork done to clean up the cab and bed was performed by Mel Boling or by Chris Carlson and his crew at Chaotic Customs in Mulvane, Kansas. The exterior sheetmetal was shaved to remove all badging and trim, save for the grille bar V-8 emblem. That emblem, headlight bezels, mirrors, door handles, locks, and tailgate hinges are the only remaining brightwork on the exterior. The bumpers were removed and a roll pan was added in the back, where four oval taillights were flush mounted by Chaotic Customs. All new glass includes the one-piece power windows for the doors.
Will claims that Mel Boling's choice of paint color is one of his favorite things about the F-100. It's a PPG color called Midnight Gray, and it was a Ford truck color in the late Nineties. It looks great on the '56, which was sprayed at Chaotic Customs.
The bed floor was finished with white oak and stainless steel strips from Mar-K Quality Parts in Oklahoma City. The installation was done by Steve Swain, who owned the truck after Mel and before Will. When Will bought the '56 from Swain and brought it to Arizona, Hotrod Alley in Glendale performed some minor sheetmetal and paint touchup work.
The first thing Will did to personalize the truck was add some new tires and wheels. The rear fenders had been widened 2½ inches, so fitting those meaty 275/50R17 Nitto NT450 Extreme Performance radials presented no problem. The tires roll on 17x10 Shelby Cobra wheels from American Racing. The front fenders are filled with 255/50R17 Nittos on 17x8 rims.
White leather and cloth upholstery brightens up the inside cab. Walt Curry at Walt's Upholstery in Mulvane covered the '92 Buick Roadmaster power seats, and created the custom door panels and headliner. The stock dash was modified to fit Dakota Digital instruments in place of the original gauges. Controls and vents for the Vintage Air A/C were also incorporated into the dash, along with a JVC audio head unit. Mel Boling used a Ron Francis wiring package to send electrical power where needed. A Banjo wheel from Billet Specialties and Lokar Performance Products pedals further dress up the interior.
Mel Boling said, "I just wanted a nice road machine that I could drive and depend on and show." Will Myers had the exact same thing in mind when he bought the truck from Steve and Labrenda Swain in 2012. While the F-100 has already proven its show-worthiness, Will is now working on boosting the mileage. He and his wife Cindy have a long way to go to catch up with the 50k they put on their '55, but the '56 is driven every day and the miles are adding up!