In a day and age when so much has been done to the automobile, it's nice to run across a truck that doesn't offend our senses thanks to its owner's wherewithal to make the truck work with itself. While that may sound like a simple statement, think about all the vehicles you see with many afterthoughts bolted on or extreme bodywork done to be just that-extreme-and not for the sake of proportion and pleasing lines.
David Miller's '54 F-100 is a nice example of what can be done over a few years of careful planning and hard work. The 58-year-old from Davidson, North Carolina, like many of us, has been into cars since an early age and couldn't imagine his life without them. In the summer of 1999, David bought himself a little '54 F-100 that he thought would be cool sitting in the driveway next to his '49 Ford coupe, but was a long way from being its equal.
As a hands-on kinda guy, David found himself a Dodge Diplomat that apparently had the right specs in its torsion-bar frontend to possibly work under the F-100, and after many hours in the shop, it was a success. With IFS, power steering, and disc brakes out of the way, it was on to the back. There he installed an 8-inch rearend from a '70 Mustang with freeway-cruising 3.00:1 gears that hung in place via a No Limit reverse-eye parallel leaf spring kit, complete with shackles.
Since David is a Ford guy and a mechanic by trade, the choice for a powerplant was a no-brainer and he was soon building a dutiful 0.060-over 351 Windsor. The motor was left fairly stock for reliability sake, but he did throw in a Wolverine camshaft and Erson 1.6 rockers and matching springs, retainers, and studs. To give the V-8 a more nostalgic look, David capped the Holley 650 off with an original '64 390 air cleaner and painted the Ford Motorsport aluminum valve covers. As for the C6 that was going to back the Windsor, David had Charlie Springs install a requisite shift kit from TCI, while making sure the rest of it was up to snuff.
And what are friends for if they can't do a little body and paint, huh? David knew he wanted the F-100 to be finished in Henry's favorite color and was sure he needed to enlist his good friend Butch Sprague (look for his '48 F-1 elsewhere in this issue) to help him accomplish this. While nothing outlandish was to be done to the body, both knew it had to be perfectly straight before Butch sprayed it in PPG Black. Along the way, the door handles were shaved, the antenna frenched, portholes added to the stock hood, and one-piece side glass replaced the vent wings for a cleaner appearance before entering the paint booth.
Inside the cab, what wasn't to be upholstered in red and white tuck 'n' roll vinyl by Mike Vandenburg at Sew Fine Upholstery in Concord, North Carolina, was painted in PPG Oxford White and Ford Red by Butch. Mooneyes gauges fill the engine-turned panel from Haneline. In front of that, David modified a Jeep Cherokee steering wheel with chrome rings to look 20 or 30 years older, which sits atop a '92 GMC tilt column. There's also a complete Vintage Air system to make driving in the hot and humid North Carolina summers bearable, and David enlisted help from his 9-year-old grandson, Chandler Brown, to get the wiring done. The two boys really had a blast working on grandpa's truck.
To literally round off the package, Diamondback Classics radial whitewalls were mounted on red powdercoated Early Wheel Company 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps and beauty rings. For the cherry on top, Eddie Brown added traditional red pinstriping to the deep gloss black '54, which is full of small details that help to make this labor of love something different. David would also like to also thank his wife, Judy, Ken Hayes, Charlie Springs, Brian Cannon, and his twin brother, Doug. It looks like many hands make light (and great) work!