What's the best way to try something new? If you ask Willy Huff, he'd probably say, "just do it," which is a familiar phrase these days, and for good reason. Willy had been around traditional hot rods for many years before deciding he wanted a truck-a classic truck. As luck would have it, a good friend by the name of Mike Bragg (whose truck shares the cover with Willy's) had a '52 Ford F-1 project, and after brief negotiations it was dropped off in Willy's Canton, Ohio, driveway. This was exciting and a bit nerve-racking at the same time because Willy had yet to take on a build of this magnitude. His vision for the truck was low, low, low, without the use of altitudinal aids, and to keep the lovely paintjob that was the product of years of sun and Mother Nature's touch.
Things got rolling when another friend brought by an old Fenton Tri-power intake manifold for a small-block Chevy, complete with Rochester carbs and linkage. This was a blessing, because after that, the motor choice was obvious, and it just so happened Willy's dad had recently picked up a decent little '67 283-BINGO! Word traveled fast, and someone else brought by a set of old E.T. five-spoke mag wheels, which would suit the truck perfectly. Now he had to make it all work.
Over the next nine months, along with help from friends, Willy carefully thrashed on the truck to get it back on the road where it belonged. Willy bought and installed a Mustang II IFS with dropped spindles, disc brakes, and coil springs-no airbags. He was determined to have the '52 sit next to the asphalt using static suspension, so out back the Ford 9-inch was flipped as well as the spring hangers, the main leaf eyes were reversed, and the frame was C-notched in order to hopefully achieve his goal.
The aforementioned 283 Chevy motor was freshened up since it had sat for over 10 years, but it was soon good to go with a new COMP Cams bumpstick, the three deuces, a set of vintage Cal Custom finned valve covers, and a trick set of air cleaners. Willy admits that setting up the motor and Turbo 350 tranny in the Ford chassis was one of the more tricky situations encountered during the build, but he got it nailed in place after some research and guidance from friends.
By now you have surely noticed the paintjob, or lack thereof, which is exactly what Willy wanted. The truck was covered in what many have been trying to replicate over the last few years-perfect patina, a well-worn finish, a barn find-whatever you want to call it, the truck has it. Willy didn't do a stitch of bodywork on the old truck, and it came out just like he wanted-lucky guy! The F-1's interior is basically stock except for the Dodge Caravan seat, auxiliary Sun water temp and oil pressure gauges, and a long Lokar shifter. The OEM steering wheel and column still hang under the dash, and the repop rubber floor mat rounds out the inside of the cab quite dutifully.
After the truck's gestation period was over and it hit the streets, Willy and Teresa were very proud of their first complete build and have happily driven the E.T.'s off the '52 every chance they could get, including long trips to shows such as the F-100 Supernationals in Tennessee. Willy has the classic truck fever now, and we've even seen him cruising an old '57 Ford truck around this year-look out!