Larry Jewett
April 1, 2002

Artists don't have to work from a blank canvas. Sometimes, the smart artist sees where he's given a head start and goes from there.

You could say Jerry Boles of Port St. John, Florida, bought an artistic work in progress. This particular "canvas" was a 56 Ford F-100. Jerry had some ideas about getting the exact truck he wanted. This would be the starting point.

The truck started its life in the hands of a farmer in New Mexico. It wasn't intended to haul loads to market or herd cattle through the fields, but it was a "Sunday go to meeting" truck. A body shop owner from Ohio was in New Mexico on vacation, saw the truck for sale, and took it back to the Midwest. The truck was rust-free, a perfect candidate for innovation. The new owner wanted to do some work in his spare time but, after two years, found he had less spare time than he imagined. The truck ended up in Titusville, Florida, where it sat.

"A friend of mine heard about it and knew I was looking for an F-100 truck," says Jerry. "I got the address, and went and checked it out. It looked pretty good, so I bought it and hauled it home."

"Pretty good" will differ in the eyes of the beholder. Jerry admits the hood and fenders did not fit and were badly scratched. All the wiring was gone. The engine wouldn't run (hence the need to be "hauled" home). In the creative mind of an artist, these were not obstacles, but opportunities.

Jerry went to work on the engine, putting in a 302 4V spirited away from a '69 Torino GT. An Edelbrock intake with a 600 Holley sat on top. Headers and valve covers from a '92 Mustang GT graced the ride. Stainless steel mufflers from a '99 Mustang matched up with an aluminized 2½-inch exhaust for sweet sounds.

Borrowing more modern parts, an '84 Lincoln Continental rear end went under the truck. Front suspension is a Chrysler long T-bar with disc brakes. A '68 Mustang gave up its gas tank to hold the fuel. The steering column is a tilt unit from a '79 Ford truck with a Cobra-style Moto-Lita wooden steering wheel. The console was lifted from a '95 Taurus. The seats are Dodge van seats, covered with charcoal pseudo-leather.

The bed was done again in white oak. Boat accessory latches were fabricated to become tailgate hinges. Purple lights were put into the bed ends. The color is Pacific Blue. "This was a good two-year project for me, and the fun part was improvising some for the parts and then figuring out how to get them to work together," Jerry says.

Now retired from his job at the Kennedy Space Center, Jerry has time to enjoy the fruits of his labors. The truck is a regular at area shows, and makes the trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for the National Truck Show. It's well-received at all shows with its impressive array of innovations.

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