Modified Mustangs & FordsFeatured Vehicles
'63 F-100 Short-Bed - Contemporary Cruiser
Modern Four-Cam Power motivates this Integral-Cab F-100
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Jerry Boles from Port St. John, Florida, has enjoyed the automotive hobby almost all of his life. Shortly after learning to walk, he was rolling in the coolest customized wagons on the block, and the four-wheeled fun hasn't stopped yet.
Jerry built several trucks over the years and owned a great collection of high-performance cars. All had one thing in common: None were trailer queens. His previous custom pickup transported him and his wife, Jean, to Pigeon Forge five years in a row, with the drive becoming a big part of the fun.
When it came time for a new project, Jerry had a few essentials on his wish list. Style was important, along with a leather interior, air conditioning, a stereo, and a distinctive engine. The new truck would also follow in the footsteps of his past trucks and be a solid, dependable driver that could handle long distances in comfort.
He found this '63 F-100 Styleside pickup with the "integral cab" (Unibody) about 2-1/2 years ago at a show in Knoxville, Tennessee. It had the sought-after big back window and short bed that he was looking for. The chassis was fairly stock except for a C-notch in the rear and a Volare front clip with disc brakes that the previous owner had installed. The rear uses leaf springs, air shocks, and a strong 9-inch Ford with 3.70 gears, although Jerry has plans to install a new independent rearend in the future.
Body mods began with shaving the door handles, adding a new rear pan, smoothing the tailgate, and hiding the gas-filler cap behind the license plate. Jerry added a fiberglass scoop to the metal hood and fitted the '63 with a rechromed '65 Ford grille, chosen so he could eliminate the parking lights. Subtle Harley units replace the originals. Classic lines flow from the Unibody rear fenders and wrap inside the doors, accented with a pair of Escort side mirrors that blend in perfectly. The unique bed floor, covered in polished pecan wood with stainless steel strips, is protected by a Checkmate fiberglass tonneau cover. Chrome Cragar wheels--15x8 all around with P275/60R15 Firestone Firehawk Indy 500s--give the truck a classic look. For extra tire clearance, Jerry added 4-inch tubs to the rear.
That big back window on the Ford was one of the reasons Jerry bought the truck, as it gives spectators a clear view of the custom interior. Chrysler seats and an unusual folding center console from a Taurus work together to create a comfortable, stylish environment inside. All the pieces were upholstered to match in Charcoal leather. With a little help from his friend, Rob Simpson, Jerry installed the '77 Ford adjustable steering column, topped with a Grant wheel. To keep track of all the underhood activity, Jerry uses a set of VDO gauges housed in an engine-turned panel on the dash. Power door locks, power windows, the Sony stereo, and the Southern Air A/C unit were the perfect options for long distance cruising.
With most of the elements checked off on Jerry's list, the powerplant was next, but not just any engine would do. Keeping with the Blue Oval lineage, Jerry bought a totaled '94 Lincoln Mark VIII. The 4.6 DOHC V-8, fitted with an Overdrive four-speed auto trans, was just the right combination of horsepower and aggressive good looks. In addition to easily powering the truck down the road, the 281ci/290hp motor had a distinctive appearance that creates lots of attention when the hood is open (car-show attendees think it's a Hemi).
Jerry is a self-taught welder and began the installation by fabricating new motor mounts and transmission supports. He smiles when he says putting the motor in was fairly easy. "The biggest hassle was getting the engine to run and connecting all the high-tech Lincoln computers," he says. "With help from Dave Smart, we took out each wire, figured out what it did, marked it, and then routed it so it was out of sight. I learned my lesson. Next time it will be an aftermarket wiring harness."
All the tedious work, however, was worth the effort. A visual delight occurs when you pop the hood. The huge 4.6 DOHC V-8 spans the width of the engine bay, giving you the first hint of the power in this motor. The firewall and fenders were smoothed, with many subtle changes added to the motor. The coil packs were moved to the rear of the engine, and the intake manifold was polished to a mirror-like shine. Cam covers were chromed, as was the radiator degas tank. Ford Racing Performance Parts headers were ceramic-coated to minimize heat in the engine room, and the pair of rumbling Turbo mufflers creates an unmistakable performance sound. To ensure free breathing, Jerry custom-built the side-mounted air intake, topping it with a high-flow K&N filter. The truck is air-conditioned, but the low-mounted compressor is hidden from view. Ensuring the engine keeps its cool, the stock Lincoln radiator and electric fan were retained. Once the engine and transmission were in place, Jerry trimmed the Lincoln aluminum driveshaft to fit.
As part of the final phase, Jerry put his three-car garage to good use, hanging plastic curtains when it was time to spray the truck. Self-taught, he handled the spray gun himself, shooting his favorite Ford shade of Rio Red. His friend Randy Johnson accomplished the detail work, buffing the finished paint job to a mirror-like shine.
Jerry says the completed truck was worth every minute of the 2-1/2-year build time, and it has already proven itself a winner in its first two outings, capturing Gold at the Palm Bay Ford show and Best Ford at the NPD/Silver Springs Mustang & Ford Roundup, both in 2007. Naturally, Jerry and Jean are eager to take their first long trip in their latest family ride.