Do you remember what it's like to have love and lost? Of course you do. Jim Dorman does. This is his '59 pickup. Naturally it's not his first.
No, Jim owned his first black '59 in, of all years, 1959. "I worked at a truck lot at the time," he began, "and one came in. It was used but it was the right year. It had a V-8 obviously, but with triple carburetors and progressive linkage. It was just a really nice truck."
In fact, the pickup was so nice that Jim drove it into the mid-'60s. "Then we had a little girl and we needed a few more seats. So I sold it. But I always wanted it back."
It wasn't until Jim was visiting family that he caught wind of yet another black '59 short-box Ford. "We were back in Winnepeg and I was looking in the paper in Windsor, Ontario. I jumped on a plane and bought it. It was running but not in very good shape. I had it shipped home by rail and tore it apart before I plunked it off at Laurie's back door."
The Laurie Jim refers to is Laurie Peterson, owner of Canadian Customs, a small shop in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Over the years Laurie's carved a niche by building hot rods and customs whose presence and quality far outstrips whatever he has invested in them ... which is another way of calling him incredibly creative and resourceful. Jim presented his idea, and together they developed a plan for the pickup.
"At first I wanted it basically stock looking, but as we went along we'd ask each other, `Well, what do you think about this?'" he mused. "Every once in a while I'd pop in, and Laurie would have some excellent idea. Like, I wanted a different grille in it, or I wanted the hood over the windshield almost like the '56 has. So we just took it from there." Understanding that, it's no coincidence that we'll pick up at that point.
One of Laurie's strong suits is his ability to tune shapes without making the changes obvious. Going back to the windshield, its stock brow gives '57-60 pickups a sort of a surprised look. So Laurie rolled it over into an integral visor.
But that was only the start. Rolling the brow eliminated the drip rail across the windshield, so Laurie shaved the remainder. The occasional sharp edges in Ford's design didn't help the design half a century ago, and the one at the leading edge of the door window frame really didn't go with the new top shape. So Laurie rounded it.
A great deal of body modifications were inspired by other seemingly unrelated changes. For example, lowering the pickup required Laurie to kick up the frame over the rear axle; however, bumps in the bed floor are unsightly. Instead, Laurie removed the floor entirely and welded it back in place about 4 inches higher than stock. The bedwells may look large enough, but tucking 10-inch-wide wheels into them required that Laurie widen each side by about 5 inches.
In '57 Ford gave the pickup its first matching fleetside bed, and it was good. Unfortunately the tailgate wasn't. So Laurie fabricated one entirely from scratch that follows the bed's character line. The taillights also look a bit industrial on these pickups, so Laurie replaced them with '50 Pontiac units. Naturally he followed the line Ford struck and frenched them into the bedsides.
Strangely enough the rear bumper behind the bed came from, of all things, a '65 Nova. Laurie understandably had to widen it, but it fits like a glove. Ford gave its Styleside and Custom Cab pickups car-like front bumpers, but it still mounted them far away from the body. Laurie brought it flush with the fenders and chin pan. He retained the grille, but in its insert he combined perforated metal sheet and strips of stainless to mimic the late Ford Edge crossovers.
Jim's engine choice may seem odd if you're not old enough to remember the impact Oldsmobile and Cadillac made by introducing the first of the mass-produced overhead-valve V-8s. "It's kind of old school," Jim explained. "Back in my day it was always, `What you got in it?' Well, I got an Olds. No matter what brand of car it was, an Oldsmobile engine was the one to have in it."
Admittedly the '70s-vintage 350 is a different series than the 303-394s the company made throughout the '50s and early '60s. But Jim's reasons go back to his objective of a driver, and parts availability in far-flung places goes a long way to comfort, even if only for peace of mind in far-flung places.
That pragmatism threads its way through the entire truck. Ford F-100 frames are both strong and versatile, so Laurie kept it, however, instead of clipping it with an obsolete suspension he employed a Total Cost Involved crossmember. It uses tubular control arms and Air Ride Technologies air springs, but everything that bolts to it is OEM: Chrysler ball joints, Fox-body Mustang power steering rack, midsize Ford brake rotors, and midsize GM calipers. Even the hard and soft brake lines that feed them came from the local parts store.
Laurie kept the 9-inch axle and its stock internals, but since the plan called for air springs he dispensed with the parallel-leaf system. In its place is a complete Air Ride Technologies Air4Link, the company's parallel four-link/Panhard-bar system designed to work specifically with its springs.
"At first I wanted stock outside, but with an automatic transmission, the Olds, and a 9-inch rearend," Jim summarized. "I wanted it so I could get in it and take it to California with no problems."
Thus far Laurie's driven probably the most road time in the pickup. "I've put on maybe 200,000 miles," Jim speculates. "I'm waiting for the weather to get a little bit warmer. And then I'm going to get going."
|Bowen Island British Columbia, Canada|
|1959 Ford F-100|
|MODIFICATIONS: ||TCI front crossmember |
|REAREND / RATIO: || Ford 9" / 3.25:1 |
|REAR SUSPENSION: ||Air Ride Tech four-link, 'bags |
|REAR BRAKES: || Ford 10" drum |
|FRONT SUSPENSION: || TCI IFS, Air Ride Tech 'bags |
|FRONT BRAKES: ||11" GM disc |
|STEERING BOX: || power rack-and-pinion |
|REAR WHEEL MAKE, SIZE: ||American Torq-Thrust II, 18x7 |
|FRONT WHEEL MAKE, SIZE: ||American Torq-Thrust II, 20x10 |
|FRONT TIRE MAKE, SIZE: ||Yokohama, 245/40ZR18 |
|REAR TIRE MAKE, SIZE: || Kumho, 275/45ZR20 |
|GAS TANK: ||20-gallon aluminum |
|MAKE: ||Oldsmobile |
|DISPLACEMENT: ||350ci |
|MACHINING / ASSEMBLY: ||Precision Valve & Crank, North Vancouver, BC |
|MANIFOLD / INDUCTION: ||Edelbrock Performer package |
|IGNITION / WIRES: ||GM / MSD 8mm |
|HEADERS: ||1 5/8" full length, ceramic coated by Hedman |
|EXHAUST / MUFFLERS: ||2 1/2" steel / 50-series Flowmaster |
|TRANSMISSION: || TH350 |
|SHIFTER: ||GM column |
|DRIVESHAFT: ||Driveline Services, Surrey, BC |
|BODY STYLE / MATERIAL: ||'59 Ford Custom Cab |
|BODY MODS: || visor rolled over windshield; door edges rounded; drip rails shaved; '50 Pontiac taillights frenched into bedsides; hand-fabricated tailgate; flush-mounted bumpers; bed floor raised 4"; rear wells widened 5" by Laurie Peterson, Canada Customs, North Vancouver, BC |
|GRILLE: || stock with expanded metal and stainless strips |
|BODYWORK: ||Laurie Peterson |
|PAINT TYPE: ||Lesonal urethane base clear |
|PAINTER: ||Gerry Dyke, False Creek Auto Body, Vancouver, BC |
|HEADLIGHTS / TAILLIGHTS: || faceted 7" / '50 Pontiac |
|BUMPERS: || stock flush-mounted front; widened '65 Nova rear |
|OTHER BODY ITEMS: ||Tonneau cover by Geoff Peterson, Canada Customs |
|DASH: ||stock |
|INSERT / GAUGES: ||flat panel / Auto Meter Old Tyme White |
|AIR CONDITIONING: || Gen II Compac by Vintage Air |
|STEERING WHEEL: ||Vintec by Billet Specialties |
|STEERING COLUMN: ||GM tilt |
|SEAT: ||stock Ford bench |
|UPHOLSTERER: ||Bob Campbell, Custom Auto Trim (seat); George, Pacific Auto Trim (headliner, door panels, and carpet) |
|MATERIAL / COLOR: ||vinyl / black and white |
|CARPET: ||cut-loop nylon |