Trace the lineage of "kustoms" back to where it all began--you'll find a sub-genre that's been there right from the start. That's right, kustom still applies to pickups! Whether they were shop trucks--and let's face it, there's not a better way to promote your business than by having a rolling billboard seen around town--or just kustoms that happened to be commercially inclined, they form an important part of our history, from the R&C Dream Truck, Ala Kart, Kopper Kart, and even the Alexander brothers' Deora. In fact, it was an old stock-bodied but wildly scalloped F-100 painted by Tommy the Greek in 1955 that inspired the appearance of the truck you see splashed across these pages.
Owner Craig Hahn had built several Chevy trucks, but never a Ford, when he first laid eyes on this particular one back in the early `90s (though it looked nothing like this at the time). In a fresh coat of purple primer, then-owner Ken Kent wasn't ready to sell it, though the truck had really caught Craig's attention. Eventually, about a year later, the truck was finally for sale after he'd bought a Merc and wanted some seed money to begin the project. Knowing very well Craig would have paid him a premium price, Ken set an extremely fair value and the deal was done. Craig bought what he considered to be a project, but ended up using it as a daily driver, putting over 50,000 miles on it during trips to work as well as numerous shows. (The only alteration he made in all that time was to add flames to all four fenders.)
Around Christmas 2005, the pickup made it to the top of Craig's project pile. The bed came off, as did all the paint and plenty of Bondo that had to be at least 30 years old, including a wad that had been applied over the hammered-in vent on the passenger side of the cowl! The truck was previously chopped and channeled by an unknown builder back in the '70s, so Craig set about taking the body mods a step further, pie-cutting and reverse-sectioning the front fenders so they aligned perfectly with the '61 Chrysler headlights and grille surround that now look like they were factory fitted. Pontiac skirt stars were added on a one-off insert to complete the front end, along with a rolled pan.
Moving back, the side glass was swapped for one-piece items; the door handles removed; the gas filler erased from the cab corner; twin '59 Caddy taillights frenched in the fenders; and a roll pan added below the smoothed tailgate. Immediately following, Kustom Mike's (San Leandro, California) laid down the House of Kolor hues, starting with a blue base. This was topped by fine green `flake, which the painter, who is used to painting lowriders, said was too bright. Craig had faith though, and once the black scallops and details were added, he admitted it was toned down just enough. There's also gold pearl in the mix to provide a little "pop" to the finish. "We call it the Poison Dart Frog because of the colors," Craig said, "It is basically a green and black version of that Tommy the Greek-painted F100."
Mechanically, the truck is typical of a kustom: it's functional and gets the body closer to Mother Earth, but the unseen isn't flashy. The stock chassis still runs its straight axle, modified by Craig to accept Corvette calipers and rotors, fed by a Firebird master cylinder. Monroe air shocks and an on-board compressor fine tune the ride height at each end, though Craig is contemplating fitting airbags, but says it's presently just high enough not to scrape. A '61 Chevy 283 resides under the hood, with a trio of Rochesters on an Edelbrock manifold with matching valve covers.
The hood may stay closed on a kustom, but the interior should be something to write home about, and that's certainly the case here. A custom-made headliner and bows, as well as a heavily modified seat from an early `60s pickup, are all finished in black and cream Naugahyde by Rick's Upholstery in San Leandro. The dash is finished in a complementary White Pearl drum wrap material. "I'm kind of proud of that dash as I did it myself," claims Craig, seeing himself as more of a project manager than a totally hands-on builder. Of course now that the truck is finished, it begs the question of what he drives daily. "I drive the F-100 as much now as I did before!" Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?