Joe Greeves
May 29, 2014

It's a situation we've seen many times before. Early childhood memories often become the motivation for the current custom ride in your driveway. When we relive those pleasant moments of cruising in the family vehicle as a kid, it often leads to the next project vehicle in the garage. That's about the way it began for Gary Coe from Portland, Oregon. Gary became an enthusiast at an early age and now earns a living with his hobby, owning several tow truck and car-related businesses. This beautiful custom '57 F-100 wasn't scheduled to be part of Gary's collection when it first showed up on his storage lot. He had something else in mind. The old truck brought back memories of the '57 "big back window" Ford that his father bought new. Gary's plan was to restore it and present it to Dad as a gift. As it turned out, Dad needed a bigger vehicle for his business so, staying flexible, Gary decided to create a one-of-a-kind addition to his own collection. Over the years, he has owned a multitude of special vehicles and usually does his own work. This time the plan was different with Gary opting to become the designer instead of the builder. The talented team at Steve's Auto Restorations in Portland, Oregon took on the challenge of turning the truck into Gary's "F-157" dream ride.

Like many enthusiasts, Gary had accumulated a mental list of changes he would make if the truck like this ever became available. Putting the list on paper was the first step in what would turn out to be a 3½-year build! Gary smiles when he says the list grew considerably over time. No average custom, this F-100 has more than a hundred body surgeries that began with a proposed 2-inch top chop from above the windshield and a 1-inch trim along the bottom edge of the body. Inside, the custom interior would have a unique '55 Thunderbird-style bench seat with a padded dash with a French seam that flowed from the dash, through the doors, and rearward to the B-pillar. The bed would also be one of a kind.

While the plans for the body were being refined, the handcrafted frame was fabricated, featuring a tall C-notch that would allow the ground skimming, 5.5-inch ride clearance. Modern suspension upgrades were a must and the truck got its autocross-level handling from a combination of aftermarket upgrades that began with a Heidts Mustang II front end, a custom fabricated four-link rear, and QA1 coilovers on all four corners. Baer 13-inch disc brakes up front and 12-inch versions in the rear ensured modern stopping power. To accommodate the wide and tall 20-inch chrome Budnik wheels, the rear wheeltubs were raised 6 inches and widened 2 inches. Matching 18-inch Budniks were added up front.

Work began on the vintage Ford sheetmetal, using the list that the builders and the owner were jointly revising on a regular basis. In fact, the final tally took up two pages in Gary's tech sheet! Each was designed to accent the Ford's classic lines while making the truck lower and longer, and at the same time, adding an air of elegance and luxury. The top was chopped and 1.5 inches sectioned from the cab below the door handles. The door handles were shaved, the hood was pancaked, and the front fenders sectioned 2 inches in order to reshape the wheel opening. The grille and the tailgate were both angled forward to match the A- and B-pillars. To achieve this "forward look," the hood was extended and the slim '66 Econoline front bumper was trimmed and tucked closer to the body. The subtle peak in the bumper matches the peak in the sectioned grille. Faired-in frenched headlights create a seamless line on the fenders. In the rear, a second Econoline bumper was used, narrowed 6 inches and with the ends contoured to tuck closely into the body.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

A tremendous amount of imagination and skill went into redesigning the bed. The recontoured tailgate sports a distinctive Ford logo, created by pressing steel letters into a piece of sheetmetal, then welding it in place. The bed floor was raised to accommodate the chassis mods, then hinged at the forward edge to provide access to a storage compartment for Gary's cleaning supplies. Drop the tailgate and the bed slides rearward, exposing the filler cap for the truck's twin gas tanks. Cosmetics in the bed combine oak plywood and a sheet of polished stainless steel, precisely blended together thanks to a CNC machine. Like everything else on this truck, careful thought went into each change with the ridges in the bed matching the ridges in the hood as well as the stainless steel accents added to the headliner. The clean round taillights and the parking lights cut into in the front bumper are Hummer H2 reflectors with housings made from exhaust tubing and accented with chrome rings.

As the body was taking shape, work was also underway inside with upholsterer Paul Reichen in Everett, Washington, carefully checking items off Gary's long list. The T-bird styled, separated-bucket bench seat, matching door panels and headliner were stitched in Buttery Tan leather. That distinctive French seam mentioned earlier runs through the dash and doors. Since space is always at a premium, the area behind the seats was pressed into service to hold the truck's electronics. Metal work inside included a smooth dash redesigned to hold a '96 Mustang gauge cluster and just one switch for the headlights. The rest of the truck's controls and the Alpine stereo were relocated to the glove compartment. The painted-to-match Ididit steering column holds the custom-made steering wheel with "F-157" logo.

Although the truck is bristling with custom touches inside and out, one of the biggest surprises is under the hood. Gary chose a 32-valve, 4.6L Four-Valve Mustang V-8 for motive power and even though the Mod motor has plenty of get-up-and-go, more is always better. The distinctive Kenne Bell blower looks good and helps to send the highly optioned Ford through the quarter in the high 14s. Airbrushed sheetmetal covers hide the coil packs, the chrome air ducts hide wires and injectors, and the new inner fender panels duct cold air from a central point in the grille. The firewall is smoothed and recesses in the inner fender panels provide clearance for the hood hinges. The final step in the 3½-year build was the deep red, House of Kolor Blue Blood paintjob, accented with Argent Silver under the hood.

Gary says the excitement of the build process increased every day as his dream truck was coming together. Of course, nothing can compare to finally getting behind the wheel and joining other like-minded enthusiasts at shows. When we photographed his unique "F-157" at the F-100 Super Nationals in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, it earned a Best Custom Award, an Editor's Choice, and a coveted Truck of the Year award for his class.

The Details
Vehicle: 1957 Ford F-100
Owner: Gary Coe
Stock 4.6 L DOHC 32V V-8
Kenne Bell supercharger
Polished dual air intakes
Airbrushed Coil pack covers with Ford logo
Custom inner fender panels and radiator shroud
JBA Headers
2.5-inch polished stainless exhaust
Borla Hushpower mufflers
Lentech AOD with shift kit
Ford 9-inch
4.11 gears
31-spline Moser axles
Front: Heidts Mustang II-style, QA1 coilovers
Rear: Custom chrome four-link with QA1 coilovers
Front: Baer 13-inch discs, single-piston calipers
Rear: Baer 12-inch discs, single-piston calipers
Front: Budnik; 18x8
Rear: Budnik; 20x10
BFGoodrich G-Force T/A Radials
Front: 245/40ZR18
Rear: 295/40ZR20
Tan leather on the custom bench seat, door panels, dash, and headliner; stainless headliner strips match bed strips; Alpine stereo and controls relocated to the glovebox; 5-inch speakers in the kick panels; 6x9s in rear cab corners; Mustang Cobra instrument package; ididit column and "F-157" steering wheel; electronics hidden behind seats; upholstery by Paul Reichen in Everett, Washington
Chopped top; sectioned body; pancaked hood; custom grille, bed, and taillights; frenched headlights; Hummer taillights and parking lights; hand-formed tailgate; trimmed and tucked Econoline bumpers; painted House of Kolor Blue Blood/Argent Silver by Steve's Auto Restoration, Portland, Oregon