Some folks are born with a wrench in their hand and find it easy to whip together a hot rod project. For the rest of us it takes some practice and patience to bring an old truck back to life. Rory Gagnon can relate. Like so many projects, his '64 F-100 began as a commuter vehicle and evolved over more than a decade into a training ground for custom truck construction.
"It all started in 1987," Rory recalls. "I was looking for a daily driver. I wanted an older vehicle for a couple of reasons-I didn't want to pay a lot for registration or insurance, or have to go through emissions. Being single and having a job that didn't pay a lot of money, I couldn't afford a new car. I decided to buy a pickup for the utility."
Coming from a Ford family, Rory's search naturally gravitated toward Blue-Oval products. More specifically, he wanted a mid-'60s F-100 with a short/wide box. He found one-a former Arizona Department of Transportation truck-for $800 and drove it two years until it began using oil. Rory decided to yank the engine for a rebuild, and that single act soon snowballed into a ground-up rodstoration effort (how many times have we heard that story?).
The chain of events is certainly understandable. After all, with the engine out and the front sheetmetal off, additional updates were just too inviting. Rory had seen a few Volare IFS installs in old Truckin' magazines, so he bought a used suspension assembly and figured out how to fit it to his frame. He also scored a seasoned '78 Granada rearend, which was eventually freshened up with a Currie center section. The frame-mounted fuel tank is another junkyard gem out of a '68 Mustang. With research and perseverance Rory was learning to be a low-buck do-it-yourselfer, even though he had never tackled such an undertaking before.
"When I started the project I didn't even own a screwdriver," Rory says. "I went to Price Club and bought a 5hp air compressor. Later I bought a 115-volt MIG welder and taught myself to weld. I learned about paint and bodywork through reading magazine articles and trying new techniques on my truck. The paint on my truck was my first paint job."
He's speaking of the bright PPG Orchid Yellow hue that now covers the Ford's flanks. The paint also covers a fair amount of custom bodywork, including filled seams and trim holes, shaved door handles and fuel filler, filled stake pockets, a smooth tailgate, and a rolled rear pan with recessed license housing. Similar smoothing was done on the painted dash, where a '76 Grand Prix tilt column, Classic Instruments gauges, and Air-Tique A/C controls found a home. The bucket seats are from an '87 Nissan.
Despite getting sidetracked on the rest of the build up, Rory never forgot about the engine rebuild that instigated it all. However, he did decide to upgrade from the 223-inch six to a 240/300-series six so he could take advantage of available speed parts. Assembled by Beck Racing Engines (back before they were Chevy-exclusive), the 300-inch inliner is fitted with reconditioned rods, ARP hardware, Silv-O-Lite pistons, and a Clifford camshaft. Topped by a ported and polished head and fed through a Holley carb and Clifford intake, the healthy six scoots the F-100 along with ease (and it sounds bitchin' through the Clifford header and dual glasspacks). Rory selects gears using a Hurst shifter bolted to a T-10 four-speed.
Rory says he still has some detailing to do before he considers the Ford "finished," but that hasn't kept him from looking toward future projects. "At the time I started this project I didn't even own a car," he says. "I drove a motorcycle daily to work. Now I own 13 cars and trucks. Most are classic Ford products. This F-100 was my training tool."