As the owner of a grading and paving company in Norco, California, Steve Parmelee sees heavy equipment and trucks all day long. Every day Steve and his crew move equipment, tools, dirt, and gravel, and so they need to get back and forth to the job with the obligatory supply of shop trucks. Steve is a hot rodder at heart and has built a shop truck that has an identity problem. The bright red '59 short-bed Ford doesn't know if it was built to haul gravel, haul awards, or just plain haul.
Starting in 1990 with a $2,000 second-owner 95,000-mile long bed, Steve drove the pickup for five years. During this "stock" phase, Steve added another 40,000 miles to the odometer. Along with being used as a workhorse the '59 was also used to teach his kids to drive and as a loaner for relatives to use.
Steve's decision to build a '59 came from his school years. "A high school buddy had a '57 yellow short bed, with a 292 and glasspacks. I loved that truck. I decided to build a hot rod truck that would be the ultimate sport truck-not a resto or a Pro-Streeter-but a sport truck with classic lines, bright-red paint, clean looks, and the smell of leather. I also wanted a truck that could be driven every day comfortably."
With this in mind, Steve chose Carl Smith to be the general builder/contractor. Steve knew Carl was up to the task because Carl is the mechanic for Steve's business and fixes all the construction equipment. Also, they had just finished a frame-up restoration on a '65 Ford company truck. "We built it the way we want a truck to be, with a 460/C6, new paint, and new suspension." That shop truck project was the stepping-stone to the ultimate personal truck Steve envisioned.
The rodstoration of the '59 began in June 2001 with a 9-inch reduction in the wheelbase and a swap to a short bed. The bed covers the extensively reworked frame that includes shortening, new crossmembers, and a ladder-bar rear suspension with coilovers. The rear suspension supports a narrowed 9-inch with 3.70 gears, Detroit locker, 31-spline axles, and Lincoln disc brakes. The center section work was contracted to Bill Thomas Enterprises (San Bernardino, California). The business end of the chassis also received its share of Carl's chassis work, and a Volar clip was grafted to the frame to bring the front down to the stance Steve was looking for.
Motorvation for the pickup comes in the way of a 460-cube big-block that's far from being stock. The Wilson Brothers (Ontario, California) performed the machine work and bored the block .030-over. A Ford Performance Racing Parts stoker crank kit bumped the big-block to 521 inches. Working in unison with the stroked reciprocating assembly are a pair of Blue Thunder aluminum heads, Pro Magnum rockers, a Crane hydraulic roller cam, and Comp Cams pushrods and guideplates. A high-volume oil pump, MPG windage tray, and a Milodon oil pan cover the fact that everything is held together with ARP bolts and studs.
Between the heads a Weiand Stealth intake manifold is fed by a Demon 850-cfm carb. The fuel mixture is sparked by an MSD distributor and an MSD 6AL box. The spent gasses move through custom headers built by Carl Smith. The headers and pipes were coated by Olympic Coatings and are accompanied by a pair of Flowmaster two chamber race mufflers.
Engine cooling is important to Steve. A B&M trans cooler and a B&M oil cooler keep the fluids at optimum temperature, and coolant is managed with a U.S. Radiator copper/brass radiator. The big-block's 615 hp is managed by a C6 transmission that was built by Luke's transmission in Riverside, California. It is dressed with a TCI deep sump pan, has a TCI 2,200-rpm-stall converter, and is shifted with a B&M Mega Shifter. Between the trans and rearend is an aluminum driveshaft that was supplied by Inland Drive Shaft.