Could not finding what you are looking for be a blessing in disguise? Well, that depends on how you look at it. Mike Bragg was going to look at a '40 Ford coupe, but when he arrived, it had already sold. The seller had this old '56 F-100 sitting out by his barn. Determined to bring something home, Mike worked a deal for this truck instead. When he returned home with his unexpected project, Mike's dad said, "What the (insert expletive here) do you want that for?" Mike told him that when he's done with it, he'd come over and do a burnout in his driveway!
That was back in 1991, and over the next 12 years Mike would work on the truck between driving his '40 Chevy convertible and '66 F-100, and, of course, tending to life's duties. He started on the chassis first and decided to go with a dropped axle instead of the IFS route since he wanted to keep the truck old school. He ordered and installed a 3-inch dropped axle and dropped reverse-eye monoleaves from Mid Fifty F-100 Parts, which got the nose way down. The stock drums were ditched in favor of a set of GM 11-inch discs actuated via a '69 Mustang disc/drum master cylinder. In the hindquarters, Mid Fifty's short and smooth 5-inch dropped leafs were used along with raising the stock front spring brackets up 2 inches on the frame. A requisite Ford 9-inch rearend hangs below the frame and is fitted with 3.50:1 gears flanked by beefy 11-inch Ford drum brakes. Mike wanted to make sure the truck would handle well when it hit the road, so he designed an 1 1/8-inch sway bar for the front that ADDCO built to go with the 1-inch bar in the rear.
Mike hates bodywork, but unfortunately for him, the truck needed quite a bit of it. He wound up replacing the bed box with a new one from Dan Carpenter, and he scrounged up a good set of running boards and splash aprons. Mike also enlisted the help of Tom and Bud Copeland as well as Dennis Brewer for the majority of the bodywork, which they whittled away at over the years. In the end, after carefully block-sanding each panel four times with paint sticks, Dennis sprayed proper amounts of black epoxy primer over all the tin to finish it off.
In the interim, Mike found a '69 Ford 351 Windsor and C6 to power the F-100. He had Precision Machine in Canton, Ohio, bore the block 0.020-over, blueprint, and balance the rotating assembly. Mike assembled the motor with an Edelbrock cam and intake, and topped it with a Holley 4150 carb.
For the truck's interior, Mike sectioned the stock seat bracket by 2 inches before having Ed Watson re-cover the bench in tan UltraSuede. The rest of the interior was pretty simple for Mike to install because he used stock-type door and kickpanels, a headliner, and a carpet kit from Mid Fifty. After the dash was smoothed, he installed a Vintage Air unit and a trio of Dolphin gauges. The stock steering wheel and column complement the long, swan-neck Lokar shifter.
Sadly, in 1998 Mike's dad passed away before the truck was ready to carry out Mike's promise. In the end, Mike bought his dad's house and smoked the tires in the driveway as soon as the '56 could move under its own power, even though it didn't have any front sheetmetal or doors yet. Over a decade had passed since he started on it, but the truck was finally done enough for Mike and his wife, Cheryl, to drive and enjoy. Even though it's no '40 Ford coupe, Mike's tickled pink, er, um, semi-gloss black!