Gleaming myrtle wood fills...
Gleaming myrtle wood fills the bed, while a motorcycle cap identifies the fill location.
A mostly stock Ford Y-block...
A mostly stock Ford Y-block fills the yellow engine compartment. The aircraft-aluminum valve covers and air cleaner add a custom touch.
Two-tone grey 1986 Mercury...
Two-tone grey 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis seats offer a modernized perch. Louie&8217s Kustom Auto Interiors did the upholstery. The tilt and telescopic steering column is from a 1976 Cadillac, and a LeCarra wheel tops off the unit.
Allan Bretz had no previous experience modifying cars when he bought a $1200 fixer-upper 1956 F-100 for his 15- and 17-year-old sons. As a machinist who "occasionally dabbled with engines over the years," the Renton, Washington, resident had an idea of how much work revamping the hauler would be. He also had confidence in his sons, Jeff and Calvin, who both displayed a strong interest in automotive subjects. It was to be "kind of a high school project" for them.
In their first burst of enthusiasm, Allan and his sons accomplished a lot. By reading magazine articles, they were able to do the work themselves. They suicided the doors, installed the Plymouth Volare torsion-bar front suspension and chopped 3 inches off the top. The chop was an ordeal: Jeff and Calvin had trouble with the curved windshield. They ended up having to cut the top and later cut the glass to fit it. They were lucky--it fit the first time, and the truck started to acquire its final personality.
But all too soon the glow wore off, and Jeff and Calvin lost interest. The abandoned project sat for several years before Allan decided to finish it himself.
Starting at the frame, he continued building it up, combining stock components with select modifications. He swapped in a 1967 Ford 9-inch rearend and custom spring and shock mounts. The shocks are Monroe air shocks, but the rear springs and brakes remain stock. Allan chose 15-inch Cragar wheels and BFGoodrich tires. The Volare front-suspension swap includes front disc brakes, but a Mustang dual master cylinder and power booster were added to the brake assembly.
Allan applied his engine-dabbling experience to the Ford’s Y-block V-8 when he added an RV-grind camshaft. He used 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum to custom-build the valve covers and air cleaner which adorn the yellow engine. A 650 Holley single-barrel carburetor replaces the stock model on one end, and a 2 1/4-inch aluminized-steel exhaust system improves airflow on the other. The transmission is a Ford Top Loader four-speed.
The pickup’s bodywork and tasteful in-and-out modifications and accessories give it crowd-pleasing appeal. The paint color is Sikkens Fruehauf Fleet Yellow, which Allan applied himself. John Hannukaine of Tumwater, Washington, overlaid some pink and lavender pinstriping on the wheelwells. Allan installed modified Cadillac taillights, shaved the door handles and replaced the window regulators with Specialty Power Windows electric mechanisms. The 1976 tilt and telescopic steering column is also from a Cadillac, and the wheel is from LeCarra. Allan chose 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis seats with dark-gray and silver-gray seat and door-panel upholstery that was custom designed by Louie’s Kustom Auto Interiors.
Allan filled the seams and cowl vent, as well as the stake pockets. Myrtlewood distinguishes the bed floor, which Allan purchased from Cliff Jones of North Idaho F-100's. The gas tank, which holds 20 gallons, is under the bed and between the framerails. A filler cap from a motorcycle is in the bed. Other accessories include a third brake light in the tailgate, a rear roll pan, a power antenna hidden in the rear fender and speakers in the door panels. The finished truck gets driven to more than just shows. Although it's not a daily driver, Allan enjoys taking it for a spin on summer days and occasionally on a weekend night. "I like to drive it. It's a nice-handling truck. I like to go around to shows with it, show it off, really. I'm proud of it." He has reason to be: The truck is an award-winner. At last count, the hauler had captured 13 or 14 awards, including the BFGoodrich Tire Best Truck award, an ISCA award, the '92 Auto Rama truck award and several local-rod-run recognition awards.
This high-school-project-turned-award-winner came out a lot better than Allan expected, and the satisfied owner says, "Originally, it was just going to be something for the kids to play around with and drive, but one thing led to another--you can see the end result."