At some point in our lives we're all limited by the amount of money (or lack thereof) in our bank accounts. In such situations, we usually have two options: Go without the things we want, or settle for something a little less spendy. Maybe we end up buying a Honda instead of a Harley. Or a trusty ol' Timex instead of a Rolex. But when we settle for less, it seems there's always a part of us that pines for something more.
Keith Ward was in that sort of predicament more than a decade ago when he picked up this '53 F-100. "I first bought this truck in 1985 with the intention of building it like the ones I read about in magazines," Keith says. "But my budget only allowed me to build it pretty much stock." Still, owning a restored F-100 is a pretty cool experience. Keith and his wife Valerie had plenty of fun driving and showing the truck for 10 years, but the dream of owning a tricked-out Effie never left Keith's mind. That desire was re-ignited with new intensity when the F-100 was stolen from a friend's shop a few years ago. "I promised myself if it was recovered I would build it the way I really wanted," Keith says. As luck would have it the truck was recovered, and Keith was quick to make good on his promise.
With help from friends Grey Brantley, Al Angilello, Mark Richardson, and Mark Harvell, Keith began disassembling his truck for the second time. But he was very careful about it this time around. Remember, the F-100 had led a fairly pampered life as a restoration, which meant the body and paint were still in good shape. Keith figured it would be easier (and more affordable) to save and retain the existing paint job, so the utmost of care was used during teardown and reassembly.
Once the cab and other body parts were safely set aside, Keith sent the frame to Jeff Parlow at Palm Coast Rod & Custom. Jeff cured Keith's straight-axle blues by installing a Heidt's Superide IFS, complete with polished stainless control arms and coilovers. Then he suspended a 9-inch rearend using two more coilovers and a four-link setup, and placed Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners. Plenty of polish and powdercoating made the chassis look great, while Billet Specialties wheels and Sumitomo rubber got it rolling.
Jeff set the chassis up for small-block Chevy power, and even recessed the firewall so the ZZ4 crate engine could be set back a few inches. While this was happening, Keith got some assistance from Bill Clark in breathing a little more life into the stout small block before dressing it to the nines with billet brightwork, a polished Edelbrock intake and coated Sanderson headers. Then a 700-R4 automatic was bolted in place, providing the convenience of overdrive.
With the chassis finished, Keith and his buddies from the Road Runners club took the utmost care in re-assembling the body on the frame. The new suspension required some alteration to the stock inner fender wells, but Jeff expertly painted them to match the rest of the body. Everything else remains as painted by Mark Osteen in 1988, with the exception of the smoothed and filled dash. The balance of the interior received an overhaul as well, with new amenities like Dakota Digital gauges, an ididit tilt column, Vintage Air climate controls, and a killer stereo by Dave and Bob Gilliam of DG Car Audio. Then Bobby Mann at Bobby's Upholstery wrapped things up by stitching supple Goldenrod-colored leather over the stock seat, custom door panels and sculpted headliner.
It took some time, but Keith Ward finally got the F-100 of his dreams. And judging by the smile we saw on his face, he definitely prefers the tricked-out cruiser he has now to the restored stocker he drove for 10 years. It just goes to show that settling for less in the short term doesn't mean you have to give up your dream forever.
F A C T S & F I G U R E S
Keith & Valerie Ward
Orange Park, Florida
1953 Ford F-100
Frame / Manufacturer modified stock/Ford
Modifications by Jeff Parlow, Palm Coast Rod & Custom
Rearend / Ratio 9 inch/3.73:1
Rear suspension four-link, Aldan coilovers
Rear brakes Wilwood disc
Front suspension Heidt's Superide IFS
Front brakes Wilwood disc
Master cylinder Master Power
Steering Heidt's rack & pinion
Steering column ididit
Front wheel make, size Billet Specialties, 17x8
Rear wheel make, size Billet Specialties, 18x9.5
Front tire make, size Sumitomo, 235/45ZR17
Rear tire make, size Sumitomo, 255/45ZR18
Gas tank stock
Other chassis items lots of polished aluminum
Year and make Chevy ZZ4 crate engine
Displacement 350 ci
Camshaft ZZ4 hydraulic roller
Cooling fan Cooling Components electric
Heads aluminum ZZ4
Valve covers Billet Specialties
Manifold / Induction Edelbrock/Edelbrock 750 cfm
Ignition / Wires MSD/Taylor
Exhaust / Mufflers 2.5 inch/Flowmaster
Year and make Chevrolet 700R4
Shifter ididit column shift
Body style / Material pickup/steel
Body manufacturer Ford
Body mods none
Bodywork Osteen's Paint & Body, Jacksonville,
Painter Mark Osteen
Paint type / Color 3M basecoat/clearcoat/black
Headlights / Taillights stock/stock
Outside mirrors stock
Dashboard smoothed stock
Gauges Dakota Digital
Stereo / Speakers JVC/Bostawick
Air conditioning Vintage Air
Wiring EZ Wiring
Steering wheel Billet Specialties
Seats stock bench
Upholsterer Bobby's Upholstery, Jacksonville, FL
Material / Color leather/Goldenrod
Carpet burnt orange