In the world of classic trucks have you ever sat down and asked yourself, What if? What if you had the chance to rethink one of the most classic and revered truck designs to ever roll out of the design studios of the Big Three? How could you even approach the thought of changing something with a clear conscience that so many hold so dear?
Maybe the way to approach it is to hold on tight to the original design elements and to take out a fresh sheet of paper to subtly enhance the original concept, making them unable to be discerned from several feet away. The closer you get, the more apparent the enhancements start to become, pulling your senses deeper into studying just what it took to create it. If you're Ron Caicco from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, it was a journey not for the faint of heart to bring his personal vision to life. Working with some of the greatest talents in his region was just the tip of the iceberg, but let's first take a look into Ron's past to see what path led him to create the '56 Hauler.
Growing up in Ontario, Ron fondly remembers the long drives he would take with his dad through the then-rural roads in Etobicoke. It was the quiet, personal time the pair shared where he was allowed at age 13 to not only learn to drive, but to take the wheel as they wove through endless miles together, infusing an appreciation of everything automotive to the youngster. At the age of 16 in 1964, Ron took a job at the local Ford dealership in the body shop to learn the ropes and set a baseline for the future. While there it was Terry Hawirko who gave him the start-up knowledge as well as an appreciation of Ford's '56 F-100. See, Terry happened to own a downright wicked '56 packed with a 430ci Lincoln mill, chopped top, and loads of attitude. It's the rides with Terry cruising the local boulevards that burned inside the youngsters mind enough to last him decades.
As the years passed by Ron owned countless hot rods, exotics, and trucks, but none sparked his magneto like Terry's F-100. There's always one vehicle from your past that haunts you—not to replicate it, but to take its memory to create your own version.
No limits … that's what Ron decided the rules were for the build. Without wasting any time he looked into numerous shops to work with on the project. One shop in particular garnered his attention above all others since they would be able to take on the entire build almost exclusively in-house. Boot Hill Auto owned by Blaine Schmidt located in Erin, Ontario, not only had the capabilities, they also had some of the finest fabricators and artisans all under one roof. Once the game plan was set, Ron started looking for a suitable donor truck. After much searching he located a solid big-window '56 cab at Bob's F-100 Parts in Riverside, California, that fit the needs. Once a deal was made it was shipped to Boot Hill for teardown and evaluation. It wasn't long till Boot Hill's project manager and chief designer Greg VanLeeuwen got busy. This is one of those builds where every square inch was massaged, updated, and reworked from front to rear. The attention to detail is exhaustive when reviewing all the steps to bring it to completion and there's no possible way that we can describe every facet due to space limitations, but we'll do the best we can.
To create a rock solid base to anchor the project, a call was placed to Progressive Automotive in Baltimore, Ohio, for one of their FTG2 frames. Crafted from 10-gauge steel featuring the contour and width of the original frame, it was completely boxed and kicked up 2 inches in the rear. Once in house, the team at Boot Hill got busy fabricating an endless array of custom pieces to tie it all together, starting with a mandrel bent chromoly center X-member along with a tubular, removable transmission crossmember. A fully polished Currie 9-inch rear with a polished Currie/Strange centersection packed with 3.73:1 gears was suspended in place by a parallel four-link and Panhard bar while RideTech Shockwaves handle elevation and bumps. To give the truck razor sharp handling plus an aggressive attitude, Progressive's Mustang II front suspension features polished stainless upper and lower control arms linked to 2-inch dropped spindles, antiroll bar, and RideTech Shockwaves to set the stance. Linked to a Flaming River rack-and-pinion, steering is sports car quick. Wanting to hide the gas tanks, a pair of one-off aluminum tanks holding 17 gallons total were fashioned and tucked inside the framerails. Everything that wasn't polished or plated was metal finished and prepped for final gloss. For the ultimate in stopping power custom-fabbed pedals push fluid through an SSBC dual master with 7-inch booster via stainless lines mounted atop the framerails to massive Baer 13.5-inch cross-drilled and vented rotors wearing their 6S six-piston calipers. To link the chassis to the street, a set of custom-cut polished 20-inch wheels (with one-off designed self-leveling center caps) wrapped in low-profile Yokohama ADVAN ST rubber seals the deal.