On February 28, 2005, celebrated Hawaiian tattoo artist Aaron "Ink Daddy" Sampaga lost his life in a motorcycle accident in his hometown of Hilo, Hawaii. Aaron was just 38 years old, and he had an enviable client list that extended from the Hawaiian Islands to the Golden State. Sampaga and his younger brother Daryl were not only into custom motorcycles, they were also keen on custom street trucks, and it was only fitting that with the death of this highly acclaimed island artist a tribute be established in his honor to commemorate his untimely passing.
"I bought this '48 Ford F-1 out of Minnesota in '05 with the intention to build a rolling memorial to my brother, Aaron, whose likeness is painted on the truck's tailgate. The F-1 has been totally redone and was a true family project. Without the help of my father, Arthur T. Sampaga Sr., my brother Arthur Sampaga Jr., my wife Georgie, my uncle Derek Valentino, and my cousin kai Wilson, none of this would have been possible!" said Daryl.
According to him, virtually every mechanical component on the F-1 was either rebuilt or replaced. Starting with the chassis, Team Sampaga installed a TCI Mustang II front suspension system underneath the old Ford equipped with a set of TCI two-inch dropped spindles, kYB gas-charged shocks, 10-inch disc brakes, and a FoMoCo steering rack.
Rear suspension on the F-1 consists of a 3.08:1-geared Chevrolet 12-bolt, drum-brake, live rear axle bolted up to a pair of TCI leaf springs and spring shackles, as well as a pair of kYB gascharged shocks. Brake bias is controlled by a Corvette master cylinder actuated by a TCI power brake booster and a matching TCI pedal assembly. Wheels and tires on the tribute truck consist of American Racing Torq-Thrust Iis measuring 15x6 in the front and 16x7 out back, and Firestone Firehawk highperformance rubber on all corners.
Powering Sampaga's Hot Pearl Pink F-1 is a Mark Johnson-assembled 0.030-inch overbored 350 Chevrolet equipped with an H.O. 350 crank (ground .010/.010), a COMP Cams Extreme hydraulic cam, a set of 441 casting GM cylinder heads, an Edelbrock Performer intake and 600-cfm Edelbrock Performer carburetor, an HEI ignition, and Sanderson Block Hugger headers with Flowmaster mufflers. Backing up the potent small-block is a GM TH350 equipped with a 3,500-rpm stall speed B&M torque converter and a Lokar shifter.
Inside the pickup a GM six-way tilt steering column and a Budnik billet steering wheel handle directional duties. Also on board are a Pioneer audio system and a set of Auto Meter Phantom gauges housed in a custom billet-aluminum dash insert. The Nissan bucket seats, the door panels, and the headliner were covered by Mark Johnson in dark gray.
Bodyman par excellence, Wayne De Matteos, was responsible for ironing out the F-1's wrinkles as well as shaving the door handles and general de-chroming. Afterward, Eliot Gomes Sr. sprayed the F-1 in NAPA Hot Pink Pearl acrylic enamel. Ryan from Hilo's Artworks was responsible for the awesome graphic treatments, including the mural of Aaron painted on the tailgate, while the pinstriping was handled by kobayashi Signs.
In the bed we find mirror-polished aluminum diamond-plate along with a 15-gallon fuel tank and battery. Behind this there is a custom rolled rear pan with a sunken license plate feature and '39 Ford teardrop taillights.
Since completion, Sampaga's F-1 has won Best Display and First Place Low Rider Truck at the 17th annual Big Island Super Show, as well as Best Street Truck at the '06 Hawaiian Motor Head Show. We somehow think Aaron Sampaga would have been very pleased! CT