It's an old proverb that runs through the ages that the shoemaker's kids usually go barefoot. The same goes for painters. Well, not the barefoot part, but what the adage applies to painters is that very few drive what they paint. Even some of the most talented body and paint pros don't have any personal vehicles that showcase their talents-or anything close to it.
Jason Wilson is quite aware of this fact/curse from growing up in the industry. His dad, Buck, is a lifelong rod, custom, and bike builder who opened his own shop (Buck Wilson Hot Rods in McAlester, Oklahoma) back in 1970. Jason spent his formative youth there with his dad, and as you might imagine, was "stained" for life-but in a good way. Among other things, it didn't take Jason long to know that cool rides don't come easy.
Jason's "traditional" tastes were honed simply by being around the hot rods that his dad had built over the years. In fact, most of Jason's inspiration nowadays comes from the "little books" of the '50s and '60s. Spending so much time in the shop working on customer stuff affords him little time to get out and go to shows, so passing trends don't usually make their way past the Wilsons.
As for Jason's truck, a friend had it for sale as a rolling project that caught his eye. Immediately visions of a traditional-style mild custom flashed through his head: chopped, dropped, shaved, whitewalls, all the necessary ingredients to take a step back in time, but finished to today's standards.
The Ford chassis is actually home to many GM parts and pieces. A Camaro frontend complete with disc brakes and power steering now puts the nose of the F-100 on the ground where it belongs. Out back we find a Chevy S-10 rearend with a 3.73:1 gear set still joined to its original leaf springs and hangers. All of the above was grafted in place by Phil Phillips.
Under the hood, which had yet to be pie cut, is all Ford-well sort of. Being in the collision repair business can afford a steady supply of donor vehicles to pick parts from. The powerplant for the truck came from such a donor in the form of a '97 Ford 4.6L SOHC engine and AOD transmission. The powerful and reliable engine was topped with a set of chrome BBK valve covers and a custom-made throttle body shroud that incorporates '58 Chevy exhaust ports and '60 Corvette trim. There is also some clever use of expanded mesh in the engine bay, another old time trick.
Of course things were a natural when it came to body mods, though it took some thinking to chop the top so it would look just right. A total of 5 inches were removed, but that turned out to be the easy part, as Jason had an adventure cutting the curved glass to fit its new opening. Luckily he figured out a few tricks to make things smoother next time he goes down that road. As mentioned earlier, the normally bulky hood was pie cut to flow with the rest of the shaved truck. With the "original" element a thing of the past, a '56 F-100 grille was picked to replace the stock '53 unit. Venerable '59 Cadillac taillights were tunneled into the rear fenders and a louvered tailgate and rear roll pan from Mid Fifty F-100 were installed. Once Jason was done with the mods and bodywork, he sprayed it all in a stunning PPG Sonic Blue.
The inside of the truck is now a mix of the Sonic Blue paint and red UltraLeather that covers the seat, door panels, and headliner, all by Dick's Upholstery. A cluster of Dolphin gauges fill a polished aluminum panel in the stock dash. To the right of the Budnik wheel and chrome tilt ididit column is a long Lokar floor shifter for the AOD. Matching the interior and traditionally complementing the exterior are four red steelies shod in radial wide whites from the Whitewall Candy Store.
Jason and his wife Lori love driving the '53 all over the Midwest whenever they can get away from the shop, but a painter's work is never done!