What's worth doing is worth overdoing, right? This is one of my favorite sayings, and it really does pertain to most things in life. But perhaps it hits home best when it comes to building and/or working on old trucks. Plenty of us are appeased with a simple bailing wire fix or a "good 'nuff" attitude concerning our truck's fit and finish or lack thereof; hey, as long as it runs, that'll do. That is just fine as long as we're all having fun, but out on the other end of the spectrum we find people like the team at the Roadster Shop in Elgin, Illinois. Loyal readers should be familiar with the quality work the Roadster Shop has been churning out of their not-so-little shop in the Midwest since we have been following the build on Mike Crimaldi's '53 F-100 during the last year.
This story begins back in '78 when Mike's dad gave him an F-100 at the age of 15 as payment for a summer's worth of work in the family business. Like many teenagers at this point in life, he started his lifelong affair with the automobile, and this model of F-100 specifically. Mike went on to date his high school girlfriend, Lisa--who would later become his wife--in the old Ford, which cemented the bond with the truck even more. Not to mention all the years of loyal service it gave him into young adulthood and the memories gathered along the way. But pretty soon real life, like raising a family, got in the way, as it tends to do. Mike found he didn't have a place to keep the '53, and he reluctantly sold it.
Almost 25 years later, someone brought up F-100s at a family reunion, and Mike shortly found himself the owner of a '53 F-100 as well as an F-500. He hauled both trucks to the Roadster Shop to see if they could make one decent driver out of the pair. Mike wasn't concerned with having a full-on show truck, but he still wanted something that would be somewhat peppy and fun to drive that he could take to a cruise night here and there. He wasn't sure about the details, so the Roadster Shop took the reins and got started on a new chassis for the '53 since the stock underpinnings weren't Mike's idea of a "fun" ride.
As work began on the chassis, the consensus at the Roadster Shop was that it'd be a cool idea to set up the Heidt's Superide II IFS four inches in front of the stock axle centerline for a more aggressive and modern look, which became the catalyst to push the envelope and not just build "another" F-100. In turn, that brought about the forward-thinking rendering of the '53 by Eric Brockmeyer Designs. Mike agreed, and the Stage III chassis commenced with its stretched wheelbase, triangulated four-link, Ford 9-inch stuffed with 3.90:1 gears, and Detroit Trutrac. At each corner are QA1 Proma-Star coilovers and 11-inch Wilwood disc brakes hiding behind 20- and 22-inch Billet Specialties Rail wheels blasted and painted a matte silver color that would soon cover all the pieces of the truck that would normally be sent to the chrome plater.
During the chassis build, the best sheetmetal from each truck was assembled and restored to stock specs before almost every piece of the truck would go under the knife so the Roadster Shop could perfect what Henry started all those years ago. Some of the first matters at hand were to move the wheel opening of the new steel Pro's Pick fenders forward to match the new axle centerline, pie-cut the stock hood 1 1/2 inches to help relieve the '53 of its nose-heavy silhouette, and angle-chop the top 1 inch at the front. It doesn't sound like much, but it helped clean up the truck's clunky stock profile.
The build would soon take a turn for the intricate as it progressed with more and more scratchbuilt components, like the handformed floating aluminum grille and Hagan headlights in custom-frenched buckets affixed to perforated steel. All this is recessed in the grille area just above the heavily modified C2 Corvette front bumpers and PIA fog lights that mount in a custom roll pan.
Most every corner on the cab was rounded, the cowl vents were filled, the handles and emblems were shaved, the seams were welded and smoothed, and the doors were cut and modified for one-piece side glass. The Roadster Shop even made custom running boards to ensure that they flowed properly into the front and rear fenders and were raised up from their stock location to, again, perfect proportions. The rear fenders were widened 1 1/2 inches in a pie-shaped fashion to add more depth to the rear sides to ensure the wheel openings were parallel to the wheels as they sit in the fenders. The Pro's Pick bed was massaged and tailored to match the rest of the all but one-off truck, which includes the noticeable tailgate changes and, of course, the unique and intricate aluminum-framed, vacuum-formed, carbon-fiber bed floor insert crafted by 3G Services in Taylor, Michigan, because wood simply wouldn't do at this stage. Also in the F-100's rear are heavily massaged C3 Corvette bumpers that now hold Watson's StreetWorks LEDs.
After all this work, it just wouldn't be right to stick a plain Jane motor into the '53, so a call was made to Mr. go-fast himself, Bill Mitchell, to place an order for one of his World Class 509ci big-block Chevy motors that thumps to the tune of 560 horsepower. To get all those ponies to the BFGoodrich G-Force tires out back, a Tremec TKO-600 five-speed transmission was ordered from Keisler Engineering and nestled between the framerails. Dressing up the inwardly brutish Rat motor are a set of Billet Specialties valve covers painted and striped at the shop, and preceding the big-block is a Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine belt system to keep things spinning in unison. The Roadster Shop fabricated the 3-inch stainless steel exhaust that incorporates Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers and mates up to the Sanderson Big Tube headers.
Taking a look inside the F-100, it is safe to say there has been just as much painstaking work done in the confines of the cab as there has been elsewhere, from the handformed aluminum waterfall center console and door panels complete with carbon-fiber inserts to the custom dashboard with its six-gauge pod that houses the Auto Meter Carbon Fiber Series gauges that keep the distinctive theme going. A closer look reveals perforated mesh in the dash that not only looks trick, but also serves as vents for the Vintage Air system. The tilt ididit column hangs from the matte silver dash via a one-off tubular mount with a perforated insert and holds the Budnik steering wheel that eclipses the intricate Kugel swing pedals mounted on the firewall.
Once the Roadster Shop coated the truck from top to bottom in PPG two-tone Black and a custom-mixed blue metallic hue, Rick's Pinstriping added the silver leaf accent between the two colors as well as the arrow-straight pinstriping on the rest of the truck before sending the '53 to Paul Atkins Interiors in Cullman, Alabama, for a trim job that would complement and match the quality work already performed. Paul covered the ISS bucket seats and much of the rest of the interior in charcoal leather, as well as crafting the Mercedes-style charcoal carpet.
Nothing less than perfection took place over the last two years at the Roadster Shop, and as the project progressed, Mike, who didn't need to justify the build by any means, but wanted it to mean something more, decided the F-100 would be a fitting tribute to his son David, who they lost to SIDS at 3 months old a little over 20 years ago. They went on to have three healthy daughters who are all now teenagers and young adults, but none took to the "car thing" like their son might have. So the F-100 has grown to represent the father and son time Mike and David might have spent together, but in the most positive and optimistic way possible. Not to mention the fact the '53 has helped to establish the Roadster Shop as a full-service turnkey shop with an appetite for the meticulous. Eat up, everybody!
|Facts & Figures|
|St. Charles, Illinois|
|1953 Ford F-100|
|Frame: ||Roadster Shop Stage III F-100|
|Modifications: ||full custom, wheelbase streched 4", raised crossmembers, C-notch|
|Rearend / Ratio: ||Ford 9" / 3.90:1 Detroit Trutrac|
|Rear suspension: ||custom triangulated 4-link|
|Brakes: ||Wilwood 11" disc|
|Front suspension: ||Heidt's Superride IFS|
|Steering box: ||power rack-and-pinion|
|Front wheels: ||Billet Specialties Rail, 20x8|
|Rear wheels: ||Billet Specialties Rail, 22x10|
|Front TIRES: ||BFGoodrich G-Force TA, 245/35R20|
|Rear TIRES: ||BFGoodrich G-Force TA, 295/40/22|
|Gas tank: ||Rock Valley, stainless steel|
|Shocks: ||Belltech Nitro / KYB nitrogen gas|
|Engine: ||Bill Mitchel World Class 509ci big-block Chevy V-8|
|Block: ||Merlin X aluminum|
|Valve Covers: ||Billet Specialties|
|Manifold / Induction: ||Merlin single plane / Hardcore 870 cfm|
|Headers: ||Sanderson Big Tube|
|Exhaust / Mufflers: ||custom 3" stainless by Roadster Shop / Flowmaster 40 Series|
|Transmission: ||Tremec TKO-600 5 Speed|
|Modifications: ||angle chepped 1", rounded corners, 1-piece door glass, filed cowl, custom running boards, shaved, smoothed, ect|
|Fenders front / rear: ||Pro's Pick, wheels opening forward 4" / Pro's Pick, widened|
|Hood: ||stock, pie-cut 1 1/2"|
|Grille: ||hand-formed aluminum, Roadster Shop|
|Bed: ||Pro's Pick, heavily modified|
|Bed Floor: ||custom carbon fiber & aluminum inlay by 3G Services, Taylor, MI|
|Bodywork and paint by: ||Roadster Shop|
|Paint type / Color: ||PPG / Black and custom-mixed blue|
|Graphics: ||Rick's Pinstriping, Crystal Lake, IL|
|Headlights / Taillights: ||Hagan in custom-frenched buckets / Watson's StreetWorks LED in bumper|
|Outside mirrors: ||Custom billet|
|Bumpers Front / Rear: ||modified C2 Corvette / modified C3 Corvette|
|Gauges: ||Auto Meter Carbon Fiber Series|
|Air Conditioning: ||Vintage Air|
|Steering wheel: ||Budnik|
|Steering Column: ||ididit tilt w/custom drop|
|Seats: ||ISS Buckets|
|Upholstery by: ||Paul Atkins Interiors|
|Material / Color: ||leather / charcoal|
|Carpet: ||custom Mercedes-style Charcoal by Paul Atkins|