A '47 Ford woodie; a '62 Volkswagen MicroBus; heck, even an old, dilapidated '50s Cadillac hearse are among common topics of "surfer transpo" lore of the '60s. If you were there, you know what we mean; if not, then various album covers, movies, or periodicals ought to serve as testament to this. Of course, that doesn't mean there weren't tons of other modes of getting surfers who didn't live on the sand to and from their favorite breaks. But a '51 Ford F-1? While it is more likely to be seen on the dragstrip, it wouldn't be unheard of to see a nicely done F-1 cruising down PCH with a pair of "guns" sticking out of the bed 40 years ago...or even today.
That modern-day coastal image is courtesy of Neal Eatherly, a Santa Barbara, California, employee of the Gas Company, who also happens to have a lifelong affliction with the ocean--a diehard surfer. Between hours put in at work or in the lineup at Rincon or Point Conception, Neal actually found some spare moments to complete his once-Oklahoma-based pickup into a stunning work of art. And we're not talking a simple interior and paint update--try a full-blown job that included a respectable chop!
Acquired back in 2003, Neal officially debuted his F-1 at the Goodguys Del Mar Nats last spring, where we first laid eyes on it. Prior to that weekend, any and all free time had been spent completing the transformation. For the chassis, the old I-beam setup was ditched, and in its place a '67 Chevy C10 subframe went. The rear setup was swapped for a newer 9-inch with a set of fresh leaf springs. The drivetrain is not so Blue Oval friendly, either, as Neal opted for a Chevrolet 350 crate engine mated with a Turbo 400 automatic trans. He's a surfer, not a restorer--what'd you expect? A set of 15-inch steelies with '48 Ford caps and blackwall radials finished up the foundation.On the body, the aforementioned 2-inch chop was performed, as well as suiciding of the doors, shaving of the handles, smoothing of the running boards, frenching of the '39 taillights, etc. Once all the various modification/restoration tasks were complete, Hot Rod Alley in Lompoc, California, sprayed the custom PPG Mandarine Orange and contrasting cream accents, giving the '51 a truly new outlook on life. Matt Williams at AGS in Santa Barbara wrapped up the project by putting together a real period-style tuck 'n' roll interior in old-school black and white with an accompanying Naugahyde tonneau cover replete with a stitched-in diamond pattern in the center. Other inner ornamentation includes an aftermarket VW-style banjo steering wheel, Mooneyes secondary gauges (stock instrumentation is retained), and a painted ididit tilt column.
Whether it's a dawn patrol run down the coast to take advantage of a winter swell or to take part in a summer truck run, Neal treats his '51 F-1 like his favorite longboard--with loving care, but not afraid to test the limits.