What looks like a pug-nosed F-100, seats five and can haul a half ton of cargo or pull a fifth-wheel trailer? It's Dave Dolman's '56 C-750 Ford COE!
Having built four F-1 pickups in the past, along with several street rods and customs, Dave wanted to build a big truck and something no one else had. After clearing the latest custom project out of his small Verdon, Nebraska, shop, he went after the '56 COE cab a friend had told him about five years earlier. It was still sitting in a Kansas salvage yard, waiting to be rescued, which Dave did for a hundred-dollar bill.
An '86 Ford 1-ton chassis with twin I-beam front and leaf spring rear suspension provided a platform for the new project. Using AIM components, Dave built an air bag suspension, which incorporates two compressors and air tanks and a 2,800-pound air bag on each corner. Disc front and drum rear brakes came with the chassis, and Dave adapted Explorer rack-and-pinion steering.
After trimming 9 inches off the rear frame rails and fabricating new front frame horns to attach the front sheetmetal and radiator support, Dave dropped the body onto the frame and went to work on his specialty: bodywork! He cut off the back of the COE cab and added a '56 F-100 cab to make the truck a five-passenger. It took three doors to make the third door on the right side, which uses '99 Ford truck latches and locks. The rear window was enlarged 4 inches to match the height of the side windows. The long roof was sliced off of a '59 Ford station wagon, de-arched 3 inches, and trimmed to fit.
Dave built the pickup bed from scratch, making it 8-feet long and 4-inches wider than stock, with 6-inch taller sides. The raised oak bed floor hides all the mechanical components underneath. With a flip-up fifth-wheel ball installed in the bed and a bumper hitch receiver hidden behind the license plate, Dave can use the truck as a tow vehicle whenever the need arises. He also built the tailgate, rolled rear pan (into which he set '55 Pontiac taillights), the running boards, and aprons below the body and bed. Since the COE had wide front wheel openings for 22-inch wheels, Dave shrunk them down to better match the 16-inch Weld Outback wheels and BFG rubber. F-100 rear fenders were widened to shield the 12x16 rear wheel/tire combo, shortened in the rear, and lengthened in front.
Dave shot the finished Big Job with PPG Deltron base coat/clear coat in a Persimmon and silver combo. All visible bolts are polished stainless button heads. Help with the project also came from Greg Davis, Dennis White, and Auto Tool and Paint in St. Joe, Missouri.
To power the beast, Dave turned the 460 truck engine over to John Larson, who gave it a .060-inch overbore and fitted Speed Pro forged 9.8:1 pistons, a Crane roller cam kit, and ported and polished heads. It was topped off with a 780 Holley on a Weiand manifold, Mallory Unilite ignition, Hedman Hedders, and 3-inch exhaust with Dynomax mufflers. A four-core Ford radiator provides cooling. Art Wenger reworked a C-6 Ford automatic with a 2,100 stall converter, three additional clutch plates, and overdrive low and second gears. The rearend is a Dana 70 with 3.55:1 gears.
Dave and his supportive wife can take three friends along in the spacious cab, furnished with taupe leather and vinyl-covered late Chevy front seat and Ford van rear. Dave built the engine cover and aluminum dashboard extension and kick panels before turning the truck over to Larry Cummings for upholstery. A full complement of VDO gauges fill the original instrument panel, and a high-powered Jensen stereo system with CD changer provides entertainment. A LeCarra wheel mounts to the GM tilt column.
Dave accomplished his "big job" in just 18 months, and so far he hasn't seen another truck like it. Fat chance he ever will!