What qualifies as a proper custom body modification? There are a plethora of custom trucks out there and it may be safe to say most look the part, right? While many are under the belief that the more/extreme mods the better, there are more than a few examples that go for the less is more train of thought. Typicall, the goal is subltety-if someone didn't know any better when walking by such a truck, they wouldn't have any idea the amount of work that had really gone into it.
One such vehicle is Johnny Brown's '50 Ford F-1. Last year I was walking the grounds of the F-100 Supernationals in Knoxville, Tennessee, which was filled with over 1,000 vintage Ford trucks, and walked right past Johnny's truck a couple of times. Then I passed it again only to stop dead in my tracks for a closer look. Something wasn't right I thought, or was it? The normally inflated looks of a stock F-1 were nowhere to be found on this truck; it was almost as if it had been slightly scaled down from how Henry intended it. Come to find out, it was.
After connecting with the owner, we got to talking about how the truck came to be. It all began with his dad who had an F-1 on the family farm when Johnny was a young boy in western North Carolina. The Ford was also his dad's daily driver, and when Johnny was old enough, that's what he learned to drive in. Fast forward a few decades to the late 1980s-the memory of the old truck was still fresh in Johnny's mind...so much so, that when he found a '50 model sitting behind a barn, he bartered until a deal was struck. This was both good and bad.
The good part was that Johnny had what he felt like an old friend back; the bad part was that he didn't have a garage! A few years went by before a suitable structure was built, but soon after Johnny started working on the F-1's frame. He grafted in the front clip from a '68 Ford LTD just right so it would sit nice and low. A Ford 9-inch also went under the truck, held in place with leaf springs from a '72 F-100.
Next up was the top chop. Johnny decided on lowering its lid by a mere 2 inches-just so it wouldn't be so bulbous. It turned out well, especially since Johnny had never done or seen anything like this before in person-he was flying by the seat of his pants. He had also yet to section a vehicle, so that was what he decided to try next. With the 2 inches already out of the top, he settled on sectioning 4 inches to bring the cab back into proportion with the top. Johnny also converted the doors to suicide, ultimately having to make his own hinges to accomplish. None of if these tasks are a small feat in and of themselves-but combined, it's quite an undertaking, especially for a first-timer!
After the firewall was replaced, the truck was ready for some primer. With a little help from a good friend named Ricky Pike, the exterior was covered with a flattened PPG dark red (quite reminiscent of hot rod red oxide, don't you think?!) single stage on everything followed by some simple striping by Mark Peters.
With the major stuff out of the way, Johnny had new glass cut and installed it himself and even made his own power window system, which included one-piece side glass. Next came the Auto Meter gauges, that he recessed into the dash, and a complete wiring job. This made it possible to get the Ford 302 and C4 combo up and running. A repop stainless front bumper was used, but out back, Johnny made one from scratch to his liking. He and Ricky modified a Ford truck bench seat and covered it in brown leather, placing Johnny right in front of the Billet Specialties steering wheel and Ford column.
The F-1 came together through many years of on and off work, back surgery, and regular life, but Johnny couldn't be happier about it. Better yet, his wife Linda is pleased to have her husband back from the clutches of an unfinished project! Johnny thanks her for her support and Ricky for all his help.