A Classic Custom 56 F100
Written/Photos By: Justin Banner
While we all desire awesome cars throughout our lives, sometimes we don’t find the one we want until later. For Richard Wilk and his wife, Mary Ann, this 1956 Ford F100 came into their lives after needing it for work on their property.
Richard had wanted a custom truck for a long time and when this F100’s use was over he couldn’t part with it. Knowing that he had wanted a truck like this to build into a hot rod, Mary Ann suggested they keep it and turn it into his dream truck. Without much hesitation, he took the truck to Trigen in La Habra, California to begin working on it.
The chassis is modified to not only be fully boxed, but also use a custom Racing Parts Company (RPC) four-link suspension in the rear. The front features the TCI Engineering Coil Spring front suspension so that the handling matches its good looks. Attached to the spindles and rear hubs are ASB disc brakes with 13-inch rotors up front and 11-inch in the rear. With wheels like that, you can’t have just any tire on it. A set Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R tires were slipped on in 26×10.00R18 front and 28×12.00R18 rear to compliment a set of Vintage Wheel Works V45 wheels in 18×8 front and 18×10 rear.
After the chassis was welded, cleaned up, and taken back apart, it was then sent to Fercadi Powder Coating in La Habra. Meanwhile, the body received custom metal work by Bill, Jr. from Trigen. Every seam was filled with steel, rain gutters removed, the firewall smoothed out. Even the hood had its holes filled with the addition of a BMW-style forward tilt. The door handles were removed and a set from a 1999 Chevrolet Impala were grafted in place. The running boards were shortened by one-inch and tucked up into the cab, which required a 1.5-inch width increase. This also enabled them to run the exhaust through each side of the running boards.
The floating grill features a 1.5-inch setback. The tailgate isn’t the original from the 56 but was replaced with a mid-50s version that flows nicely with the boxed tucked rear bumper.
The bed is a real work of craftsmanship, as well. The oak boards were coated with ten coats of Man of War Marine Spar varnish and finished with a set of SS bed strips. The body is shot in House of Kolor Luna Yellow by Auto Perfections in La Habra.
Bill’s Auto Upholstrey in Brea, CA took a set of Cadillac Eldorado seats and modified them to adjoin the custom steel center console by Trigen before wrapping all of it in leather. Bill’s also installed a custom headliner to finish off the clean look of the customized seats.
The dash was filled, and a sub dash was made by Trigen. Those vintage looking gauges were made by Dalphin with American Auto Wire sending them the signals. Vintage Air created a custom A/C system. The Budnik steering wheel attaches to an RPC tilt with a custom Ford “V8” drop.
The engine is mild but doesn’t pull any punches. It’s a Ford 460-cu.in. V8 with an Edelbrock Performer Intake and matching 750cfm carburetor. A chrome RPC air cleaner tops off the engine to match the chrome Ford Motorsport valve covers.
La Habra Plating provides parts with additional chrome and polishing where the truck didn’t have it from the factory. The Sanderson headers attach to a custom 2.5-inch exhaust system with Magnaflow mufflers providing a rich sound. The Matson radiator keeps the engine cool with a pair of electric fans pulling air through it. The March pulley system gives the 460 a modern serpentine belt system for easy maintenance and further custom looks.
From the crankshaft, a Ford E4OD sends power through a custom OC Driveshaft shaft to the Ford 9-inch, which has a set of 3.373:1 gears and posi-traction for straight grip.
Richard was not only a Vietnam veteran but was also a Captain with the Los Angeles County Fire Department 44. He retired from the department in 2006 with just over 32-years under his fire helmet. That’s why he proudly displays the California State Fire Association and veteran decals on his rear window.
The rear taillights are mid-Fifty style, and while it was not Richard’s intention, you can’t help but notice they also sort of resemble helmet shields.
Richard’s 56 F100 can be easily appreciated for what it is, a former farm truck turned awe-inspiring street truck.