Building a great-looking classic truck on a budget doesn't take a degree in economics. All you really need is the right attitude, a little restraint, and the talent-or patience-to do as much work as possible yourself.
Richard Smith utilized all those attributes and then some when building his purple, semi-pro street F-1 Ford. His first smart move came in selecting a '48 model pickup instead of the more popular (and pricey) '53-56 Fords. He also lucked out and found a nice complete pickup that hadn't been registered (and presumably not driven) since 1961. This was back in 1989, and between buying a house, having a child, and tending to the other necessities of life, Richard spent about nine years just getting started on the truck's chassis. (See, we told you that patience was a key.)
Despite the delay in getting the project started, Richard had a pretty consistent plan from the get-go. He wanted to build a truck with the fat-tire pro street look, without crossing over into exotic (and expensive) race car territory. He'd been collecting parts with this goal in mind, so when work began in earnest the truck progressed pretty quickly.
Construction of the chassis began with the boxing of the stock Ford frame and the addition of a Mustang II independent front suspension with Granada disc brakes. The rear suspension was built using Chassis Engineering ladder bars and AVO coilovers, all of which were attached to a narrowed 9-inch rearend out of a Lincoln Versailles. Rolling stock came in the form of Weld wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson (rear) and BFGoodrich rubber. Richard kept the running gear simple and affordable by installing an essentially stock 302/C-4 combo warmed over with an Edelbrock induction system and headers from a 5-liter Mustang. A Pete Jackson gear drive and Flowmaster mufflers add the right sound to back up the pickup's image.
Another tip for budget building is asking friends for help. Richard did just that by having Buddy McAffe construct a new bed with a smooth steel floor, custom wheel tubs, a rear pan with a recessed license plate and custom taillights, and a smooth tailgate complete with an integrated Ford script in the upper left corner. The rest of the truck's sheetmetal remained essentially stock, with the exception of the filled cowl vent, smooth firewall, and custom radiator support. Richard assembled the truck and drove it for two summers in primer before taking it apart and having Rick Sieboldt spray the PPG Dark Violet basecoat/clearcoat paint.
By pinching pennies on the rest of the truck, Richard was able to splurge on a few comfort items inside. The leather upholstery (stitched over an'84 Ranger seat), Alpine stereo, Vintage Air, and VDO gauges all make the cruising experience more comfortable, while RodDoors door panels and an assortment of billet accessories finish the cabin off in style.
So there you have it-a fat-tired fat-fender truck that didn't break the bank. In fact, Richard had enough money left over from this project to begin building a '68 Camaro for his teenage son Cody. Let's just hope it doesn't take 12 years to finish that one!
Facts & Figures
Richard & Denise Smith
1948 Ford F-1