It's been said that a good mechanic can cover his tracks no matter how bad he screws up-it's a skill I learned to master at a very young age.
I don't know what it is about toasters, but I think that just about anyone with a love for customizing who grew up in the mid-20th century got their mechanical chops hopping up the family toaster. On the street where I grew up, all the guys who were into customizing were a couple of years older than I was. At the time, I didn't understand why, but those extra two years of age sure made a big difference in not only skill but imagination as well. The pressure was always on for me to present something to the other guys that was really cool. It didn't matter if it was an AMT 1/25th-scale model car or our dad's new gas-powered lawnmower, nothing was safe from modification in our neighborhood.
I think it was Alex Marikian, the kid across the street from me, who started the great toaster build-off. Alex was pretty good at tearing stuff apart and putting it back together with just the right touch. Not to be outdone by Alex's mom's full-custom T-35 Sunbeam, I tore into my mom's Model 1B14 Toastmaster. I got it to look as good, if not better than, Alex's, but I couldn't quite figure out how to put the internals back together again. I knew my dad would kill me if he knew I took the toaster apart, so I did my best to make it look like it had never been touched, then plugged it back into the kitchen wall. As fate would have it, my dad was the first person to use the toaster. Just when it looked like it might work, the damn thing burst into flames. My dad didn't say a word, he just turned around and started chasing me. From toasters, I graduated to electric can-openers, and soon afterward riding lawnmowers. By the time I had my second vehicle, a '47 Chevy 1/2-ton panel, I had acquired a proper respect for anything that had springs that could fly out or wires that had to be hooked back up. This isn't to say that some 40 years later I've mastered the art of not screwing things up, because I'm still pretty good at that, but what's cool is that I still harbor my love for customizing and most definitely a competitive spirit.
This brings us to the Great Custom Classic Truck Build-Off, or should it be called the Great Classic Truck Build-Off? You see, the competition has already begun, and I haven't even finished explaining what I'm talking about. It all started innocently enough when Classic Trucks' associate editor Grant Peterson bought a '68 Ford F-100 shortbed Flareside. Not too long afterward I came across a '72 Ford F-100 shortbed Styleside. Before we knew it, there was talk in the air about pitting us against each other in a build-off.
For Custom Classic Trucks' and Classic Trucks' Ford fanatics, the build-off will provide a wealth of interesting and informative tech for their F-100s. Since there's about 30 years of age difference between Grant and I, it pretty much goes without saying that for the next 12 months readers will witness firsthand two different schools of thought in action.
While Grant has opted to power his '68 with a 5.4 DOHC Ford V-8 backed with a six-speed stick Keisler transmission, I'm running a pushrod 427 coupled to a beefed C-6 packing a Gear Vendors overdrive. The radical differences between the two trucks will not stop with the powertrain-by the time our trucks are completed, it is likely that the only common thread will be a Blue Oval.
So that Custom Classic Trucks' and Classic Trucks' readers can get a firsthand look at the two Fords in person and vote on their favorite one, Grant and I are rolling them out for Rod & Custom's 2007 Americruise. At the end of each leg we will park the two Fords nose-to-nose with a ballot box and tally the votes. Not to sound too cocky, but hopefully when it is all said and done, Classic Trucks' entry will be toast. CCT