Memories, no matter how cloudy, can control us like nothing else. Although Dick Beko had owned several classic Chevy cars and some newer GM trucks his mind always beckoned for the less complicated days of the late-'50s when an older friend of his had a '56 Ford Custom Cab.
Ever since those carefree days Dick has wanted a '56 F-100 but it wasn't until 1990 that he found a suitable candidate. The truck was a solid driver built in the mid-'70s with a Chevy small-block, Turbo 400, and Dana 60 rear and still retained the straight axle and drum brakes. You would think that after waiting so many years to fulfill a dream Dick would have jumped right in and started enjoying it. But it wasn't until the truck sat in his garage untouched for a few years, and the former owner called wanting to buy it back, that a fire got lit until him to do something with the old Ford.
Dick decided that he was going to build a simple restoration with a few hot rod touches and turn the F-100 into something that he would have liked to have had as a teen. Before he knew it the truck was at Custom Automotive Restoration, Inc. in Portland having George Raeburn and his very capable crew yank the body off the frame.
While the sheetmetal was being massaged, Dick took the frame over to his brother Ken's garage for a little modification. After making a list of the new pieces the frame would need to meet the type of driver Dick wanted, the two of them came to the realization that it would be easier, and probably cheaper in the long run, to buy a whole new chassis. A few calls to No Limit Engineering in San Bernardino, California and Dick had a complete chassis built to his specs which included a Total Cost Involved IFS with tubular control arms, Wilwood disc brakes, and a Currie 9 inch hung with a four-link.
Ken now had so much free time he was able to assemble a Chevy 400 small-block for Dick's cruiser. To make sure that the new mill would fit the retro theme Dick dressed it up with an Edelbrock dual quad intake topped with a pair of Carter AFBs and a Moon finned air cleaner that matches perfectly with the set of vintage Cal Custom finned valve covers. Bill's Hot Rod Company accessory brackets keep the Vintage Air A/C compressor, alternator, and power steering pump running true.
With the mechanicals out of the way Dick was able to turn his attention to what Raeburn was doing with the body. Dick wanted the body treated to a few classic custom mods and, so, had the door edges rounded, the antenna frenched, and a '99 Ford emblem sunk into the front of the forward tilting hood. Once the sheetmetal was prepped and ready to go Raeburn squirted everything with a Powder Blue that was custom mixed to get as close to the original Ford color as they could. To top it off he added Ice Blue Pearl ghost flames to the hood and front and rear fenders using some vintage Morano Pearl he happened to have lying around.
Before the fresh rejuvenated body could be reunited with its new foundation Raeburn's crew tore the chassis apart and powder-coated the frame semi-gloss black and sent the components that could be chromed out to get shiny. When it was time to reassemble the chassis stainless-steel hardware was used throughout.
Once the body was back on the frame and the wiring and plumbing was finished, Dick loaded it up and trucked it over to Jim Inger at Guy's Restoration & Reproductions in Portland to have the stock seat recovered and some custom door panels fitted. Inside and under the bed Dick added his own touch by inlaying Purple Heart wood in the top of the bed floor and then using another set of bed strips on the bottom to finish it off a little nicer than the stock large washers.
Now that the truck is done Dick couldn't be happier with the way it drives and rides. It's certainly better than anything that he could have built back in the good old days, but still retains the flavor of the period he wants it rooted in.