Too much information can be a dangerous thing, but building a truck with too much info can be even worse! Whether it be the know-it-all neighbor, an online forum, or even a magazine telling you how or how not to build your truck, it's tough to stay focused. We all have some idea about the vastness of the aftermarket, but sometimes that can hinder even the best of us when the latest and greatest or the fastest and flashiest detracts us from what we were building in the first place. Kelly Tidwell knows this all too well. He's been around the block a few times in his life, quickly, in fact, and has seen them come and go during his 45-year racing career that put him in the driver's seat of Funny Cars, Fuel Altereds, Pro Stocks, and motorcycles, just to name a few; he was even the world champion in AHRA drag racing in '69. Today he's racing boats and toying with getting back on the dragstrip, but through all those years he figured out what works and what doesn't, so when he wanted to put together a shop truck for his Huntington Beach-based company, Pure Power Lubricants, it was going to be all tuff and no fluff.
Kelly, like many, has a soft spot for '56 F-100s, and when he found an ad in an Orange County, California, newspaper for what seemed to be a decent candidate for such a project, he went to check it out and gladly hauled home the rough big-window. Yes, it was a bit hammered, but it was THE '56 that Ford nuts dream about. Kelly soon took the new Pure Power Effie to his longtime friend Roger McFarland for the works. Roger doesn't work in a shop and doesn't build cars or trucks for a living; he's just a talented guy who agreed to help a friend.
Roger rebuilt the stock chassis with an original Mustang II crossmember and components-keep in mind this was 10 years ago-and mounted Ford 12-inch power disc brakes on the Ford spindles. Roger made the four-link that terminates into a Ford 9-inch that Kelly built, and a 308:1 cruising center section complete with a limited-slip and 31-spline axles that retain the stock Ford (see a pattern?) drum brakes. At each corner of the unboxed chassis are Koni coilovers and Ford steel 15-inch wheels with hubcaps and beauty rings.
After delivering the truck to Roger, Kelly had 384 cubic inches of Ford SVO Windsor work to do. Kelly has always built his own motors, and he was excited to put one together for the '56. He had to stick to his guns when word got out amongst his racing buddies that he was building a new truck and he was offered some pretty exotic stuff to throw in the mix. After declining all the generous offers, Kelly had Arias machine the new Ford Racing block so he could stuff it with a COMP cam, JE pistons, and a Ford crank and rods. For the top end, he selected a set of Ford aluminum heads and intake along with a Holly 700-cfm carb. And what did he fill the oil pan with? Pure Power API-certified 15W/40 motor oil, of course! While Kelly did what he does best on the motor, he had Art Carr do what he does best on the Ford C-6 transmission that holds a Ford converter and splits gears via a Gear Vendors Under/Overdrive. After years of working on cars, Kelly's goal is to be able to jump in and drive his truck anywhere, any time, and just perform regular maintenance. Should he want to pack his bags and drive to New York or the F-100 Supernats in Knoxville, it'd be no problem with 400 horses under the loud pedal just in case.
The bodywork on the all-stock-steel '56 was carefully handled by Roger in preparation to hand the truck over for paint, and the Chevy Orange paint still looks great nearly a decade later. Wait, Chevy Orange? Some might scoff at the color choice because of its lineage, but you can't deny it looks great on all that Ford sheetmetal! Roger oversaw the interior at his place in the Arizona desert, and besides the paint color, the only non-Ford deviation is the '98 Cadillac six-way power seats covered in beige leather with the rest of the interior stitched to match. Other modern amenities for long-distance travel include the Vintage Air A/C unit, ididit column with a Boyd Coddington wheel, power windows, remote entry, cruise control, Alpine stereo, and a full house of Dakota Digital gauges in the stock dash.
The proof of Kelly's tried and true plan is in the pudding: He still enjoys the F-100 all these years and miles later. He gets a kick out of throwing 5-gallon buckets of Pure Power oils and maybe a box or two of Pure Power Lifetime Filters in the '56's bed to go for delivery runs to customers all around SoCal like a well-oiled machine-pun intended!
Facts & Figures
Huntington Beach, California
1956 Ford F-100
|FRAME || stock |
|REAREND / RATIO || Ford 9" / 3.081 posi |
|REAR SUSPENSION || 4-link |
|REAR BRAKES ||Ford drum |
|FRONT SUSPENSION || Mustang II |
|FRONT BRAKES || Ford 12" power disc |
|STEERING BOX || rack-and-pinion |
|WHEELS || 15x7 Ford steel w/hubcaps and beauty rings |
|FRONT TIRES || Remington 215/70R15 |
|REAR TIRES || Remington 235/70R15 |
|GAS TANK ||Fuel Safe under bed |
|ENGINE ||384ci Ford SVO Windsor |
|HEADS ||Ford aluminum |
|VALVE COVERS || Ford polished |
|MANIFOLD / INDUCTION || Ford / Holley 700cfm |
|IGNITION || Ford |
|HEADERS || custom |
|EXHAUST / MUFFLERS ||custom 2 1/2" |
|TRANSMISSION ||Ford C-6 by Art Carr |
|MODIFICATIONS ||Gear Vendors unit |
|STYLE || F-100 Custom Cab |
|FENDERS FRONT / REAR || stock steel |
|HOOD || stock |
|GRILLE || stock chrome |
|BED || stock w/mahogany bed floor |
|BODYWORK BY || Roger McFarland |
|PAINT COLOR ||Chevy Orange |
|HEADLIGHTS / TAILLIGHTS || stock |
|BUMPERS ||stock |
|GAUGES || Dakota Digital |
|AIR CONDITIONING || Vintage Air |
|STEERING WHEEL || Boyd Coddington |
|STEERING COLUMN || ididit |
|SEATS ||'98 Cadillac 6-way power |
|UPHOLSTERY MATERIAL / COLOR ||leather / beige |
|CARPET || custom beige |