Joe Greeves
January 8, 2010

If you've spent any time with the mem-bers of the F-100 community, you know that these Blue Oval fans hold their trucks in high regard. Often, drivers will have owned several of Ford's iconic pickup with each one better than the last. The most popular approach seems to be modifying as many details on the truck as possible, without obscuring the truck's classic style. There also seems to be a consensus that the '56, with its distinctive wraparound windshield is the sought-after ride. George Nicholson fits the F-100 owner profile perfectly. Among many other Fords, he's owned three F-100s and currently has a pair of '56s in the driveway, one painted flat black and the other, this beautiful black and silver version he calls his "Silver Bullet."

Retired from the U.S. Coast Guard, George is active in the oil field service business. An auto enthusiast since birth, this lifelong Ford fan was happy to discover his latest F-100 not far from his home in Ocala, Florida. Abandoned in a forest with a tree growing through the bed, the '56 wasn't in the best condition but George collected parts to rebuild the truck over a two-year period. During that time, he met Jim Wallace, of Wallace Transmotive Service in Belleview, Florida. The connection was immediate, thanks to Jim's '34 Ford parked out front. The quality of the street rod was obvious and convinced George that Jim had the talent necessary to rejuvenate his F-100.

The customizing goal was to create a subtle, street rod-style '56 with every inch massaged in some way, while still remaining true to the original design. When Jim received the truck, his initial impression was that the body was fairly good but the entire frontend had been badly modified in an attempt to install a larger Lincoln motor. The first step was to remove the damaged frame sections and create a new front clip. With a dolly full of 2X4 rectangular steel tubing and George's second '56 F-100 as a model, Jim constructed a new front clip, incorporating a Fatman Fabrications crossmember along with a Mustang II frontend, tubular A-arms, and Thunderbird rack-and-pinion power steering. Standard springs and Monroe Sensa-Trac shocks, paired with 11-inch Cougar disc brakes, completed the frontend. Moving to the rear, Jim notched the framerails for additional axle clearance and installed a Ford 9-inch, held in place with monoleaf springs that allowed a slightly lower ride height.

George is the best kind of Ford fanatic, believing that Fords should be powered by Fords. The 5.0L engine, AOD transmission, and engine electronics powering the truck were sourced from a wrecked '89 Mustang GT. Already quick, the 0.030 over engine gets a little extra punch from a Ford Racing Performance Parts E303 hydraulic cam, ported and matched heads, a BBK cold air kit, and Speedway Motors block hugger headers that dump into a pair of Flowmasters. A billet power steering pump and A/C compressor, an Arizona heavy-duty radiator with polished brass top, and a SPAL electric fan round out the 21st century upgrades. Polished stainless steel inner fender panels add some sparkle to the engine room.

Lots of subtle body mods were added to the Effie, beginning with the '56 Ford Fairlane parking lights integrated into the original grille and painted to match. The tilt-forward hood mechanism is from No Limit and created the perfect canvas to display some of Jim's custom paint techniques. In order to allow the bumper to be mounted closer to the body, the front frame horns were shortened, then the bumper bolts were smoothed, and the ends of the bumpers filled in. The cab is stock height but the door handles were shaved, corners rounded, and one-piece door glass replaced the originals. The traditional wraparound windshield that makes the '56 F-100 so distinctive was complemented by the new Big Back Window kit from Mike Chesser, with Jim carefully welding it in place. The cowl was also filled in and a retractable power antenna now resides where the gas filler cap used to be.

Lots of subtle modifications went into the bed, beginning with new external sheetmetal that covered the original stake pockets and created a new outer bedwall. Not only did the widened bed allow them to position the truck's steel fenders 2 inches farther out and run a fatter tire, but it also made the rear fenders wider than the front, a distinct departure from the narrower rear/wide front of the original. As an added benefit, it also created a smooth surface for the new side graphics, soon to be applied. The bed floor was covered with Brazilian Walnut and features a polished aluminum fuel filler cap. Jim completed the body mods with a set of reshaped running boards, a new rear pan, frenched license plate, oval '48 Ford taillights, and matching oval exhaust tips. Billet Specialties Vintec rims, 17x8 up front and 17x10 in the rear, matched with Kumho P225/55R17 and P275/60R17 tires got the truck rolling in style.

The interior transformation began by removing the cab-mounted gas tank and substituting it with a fuel cell between the framerails. All the dashboard seams were filled, and then the glovebox and ashtray were welded shut. A new lower dash panel was fabricated to hold the Vintage Air A/C vents. Information and control elements were modernized, thanks to the collection of TPI Tech instruments in the No Limit panel along with the Flaming River Waterfall steering wheel and Lokar shifter. Subtle touches are everywhere, like the stealth stereo controls just above the driver's sun visor. CKC Kustom Interiors in Ocala was chosen for the upholstery work and since George wanted to keep the period look, they stitched up classic rolls and pleats for the Glide Engineering bench seat. Matching upholstery on the door panels flows seamlessly into the kick panels.

Jim Wallace wrapped up the project, spraying a pair of DuPont ChromaBase colors, Kalapana Black and Ford Silver Pearl, from the Harley Davidson Anniversary truck. Once again employing the '56 theme, he used an original chrome '56 Ford Fairlane side spear as the basis for the separation of the colors, even duplicating the checkerboard graphics at the end of the spear. The tilt-forward hood mechanism displays the scallops on the hood.

Because of his job, George was out of the country during much of the build, but Jim was able to construct the truck by remote, thanks to the Internet and regular emails. The process took 2 years but looking back, both agree it was worth every minute. Jim and George take the truck to shows on a regular basis and they have already racked up a significant collection of trophies, thanks to an F-100 that looks good, even in a crowd of Ford's famous fat-fendered classics.

The Details
George Nicholson's '56 Ford F-100

Engine
'89 Mustang 5.0L V-8
4.030-inch bore
3.00-inch stroke
Speed Pro pistons
Perfect Circle rings
FRPP E303 hydraulic roller camshaft
0.498-inch lift, 282/220 degrees duration, 110-degree lobe center
Ported heads
BBK cold air kit

Transmission
Four-speed automatic overdrive

Rearend
9-inch
28-spline axles
3.50 gears

Exhaust
Speedway Motors headers
Flowmaster 40-series mufflers
23/4-inch dual exhaust

Suspension
Front: Fatman crossmember, Mustang II frontend, stainless steel polished tubular A-arms, T-bird rack-and-pinion power steering, Monroe Sensa-Trac shocks
Rear: Monoleaf, with notched frame, Monroe Sensa-Trac shocks

Brakes
Front: 11-inch disc, single-piston caliper
Rear: 11-inch drum

Wheels
Front: Billet Specialties Vintec, polished, 17x8
Rear: Billet Specialties Vintec, polished, 17x10

Tires
Front: Kumho Ecsta STX, P225/55R17
Rear: Kumho Ecsta STX, P275/60R17

Interior
Ultra Leather-covered bench seat from Glide Engineering, smoothed dash with TPI Tech instruments, No Limit Engineering gauge panel, Flaming River Waterfall wheel, Ididit tilt column, Lokar shifter and pedals, three-point seatbelts, Vintage Air billet A/C controls and vents, Custom Autosound Secret Audio, black Bentley carpet

Exterior
Tilt-forward hood, '56 Fairlane parking lights in modified grille, Big Back Window conversion, door corners rounded, handles shaved, and one-piece door glass, smooth tailgate with '48 Ford taillights, Brazilian Walnut wood bed, custom DuPont ChromaBase Kalapana black and Ford Silver Pearl paint