The Grand National Roadster Show gives out only one "Best Truck" award each year. There was no doubt that this truck was going to win Best Truck, before it had even been placed in position at the show. People seem to flock to Frank & Linda Gorin's '56 F-100 like it's magnetic.

The attraction is well deserved. Virtually every piece of this truck was modified or handbuilt in some way, and it is all tastefully done. Gorin, a painting contractor by trade, does not have the time or skills to build a truck at this extremely high level of quality, but he certainly knew where to turn. Hot Rods & Custom Stuff (760/745-1170) in Escondido, California, is well known for its professionalism and high-quality work, but this time these guys even outdid themselves. Every part was carefully considered and meticulously prepped. They even handbuilt the BMW-style flipped-hood mechanism.

Of course, like most projects, this truck didn't start out to be a world-beater. Gorin brought the truck into Hot Rods & Custom Stuff to have it fixed up. He's owned the pickup since the '70s, and even used it in his painting business. As work began and enthusiasm soared, Gorin walked in with a picture of an aluminum-center-section Currie rear end, complete with polished Strange third member. This caused a pause from the crew of workers. "You're going in a different direction here," owner Randy Clark told Gorin. As is often the case, Gorin started having grander ideas than simply "fixing it up."

Clark explained that if you're going to use an exotic piece for the rear end, you should compliment it with other high-end pieces such as a four-link rear suspension with coilover shocks, Willwood disc brakes--heck, maybe even a completely custom-built frame. Gorin kept saying yes. And if you're going to go to all that trouble on the undercarriage, Clark pointed out, you should give the truck some zing on the exterior. Yes again. And you can't just stick a small-block in the engine compartment, it really screams for a 8-71 blown 502. Absolutely.

"Fix it up" had taken on a whole new meaning. When the plan was all laid out, the crew (and Gorin) knew that the pickup needed to be at the Grand National Roadster Show for its public unveiling.

HR&CS didn't let on that a project of this magnitude was being built at their shop. No pre-publicity, no progress reports, nothing. In fact, the shop didn't allow any automotive journalists to take photos of the truck. Except for Custom Classic Trucks, that is. We enjoyed the opportunity over the past year to take under-construction photos with the promise that we would not publish them until after the truck had made its public debut. We honored that request so our readers could get a real up-close look at how this stunning truck was put together.

Body mods are extensive, some obvious and others subtle. The front valance was filled, the grill narrowed, and the wheel openings shortened. Each of these was obviously a major undertaking, but they significantly alter the appearance of the truck. The running boards were handbuilt, the door corners were rounded, all of the seams were filled, and the cab back was smoothed. The bed is a whole other matter. Custom one-piece sides were fabricated with no seams, rounded corners, tear-drop bed rails, and louvers underneath. Yes, underneath. The bed tilts up on chrome hydraulic rams to reveal unbelievable detail.

All wiring and hoses are hidden (most run through the frame) to give the appearance of simplicity and beauty. The interior is also designed to appear simple. All of the stereo speakers are hidden, thanks to Stereo Bob, and every inch of metal is covered with the magic of Ron Mangus' work. The formed black leather even covers the dash, which makes the Moon Classics gauges really stand out. The flamed steering wheel, of course, is one of Mangus'.

No matter which direction your eyes move around this pickup, you always find something new you hadn't noticed before. That's the sign of a truly outstanding truck. Hey, this is America's most beautiful F-100.