For the average person, the name So-Cal Speed Shop may invoke thoughts of Deuce roadsters, traditional hot rod parts, or even early dry lakes racing. But what many may not realize is that along with a pair of iconic landspeed race cars-Alex Xydias' belly tank and '34 coupe-there was the infamous '53 F-100 shop truck used to, among other things, push-start and tow the aforementioned at Bonneville and El Mirage, and lots of other places. Though the original's now long gone, in 2007 So-Cal's Arizona franchise (also no longer) recreated the Gee-Bee flyer scalloped pickup, but of course with an array of the parts the modern So-Cal Speed Shop now manufactures.
While So-Cal is still living up to its hot rod heritage, it hasn't become a stranger to pickups, especially F-100s. Recently, an ex-automotive manufacturer executive by the name of John Devine came to So-Cal's mother ship in Pomona, California, to discuss a hot rod pickup project with company Cofounder and President Pete Chapouris. Eventually, those talks led to a '66 Chevelle, which is about as far from an F-100 as you could get. But John never lost sight of his original goal. After the muscle car project was completed, he finally got his chance to see it come to life.
Along with project manager Ryan Reed, John and the So-Cal crew got cranking on a '55 F-100. Like pretty much anything they put their hands on, the Ford truck underwent a major overhaul-but you'd be hard-pressed to tell simply by looking at pics of what may just appear to be a fairly stock-bodied Effie ... a fine-tuned, straighter-than-original one that is. Along with crewmen Scott "Dirty" Howard, Evin Veazie, and Tony Sandoval, So-Cal brought the once flatbed-equipped '55 up to modern hot rod standards: Heidts IFS and Total Cost Involved parallel leafs (each outfitted with Bilstein shocks), a Currie Tru-Trac 9-inch rearend, and a dual-quad 460 big-block with a C-6 automatic.
Above and beyond the aforementioned chassis and drivetrain, John's F-100 was also subjected to a taste of So-Cal on its exterior: numerous, yet mostly subtle, body modifications. Unlike a full-on custom, however, each of the alterations can be interpreted as things that maybe should've been done back in 1955; otherwise, they're a collaboration of touches that, rather than immediately draw attention, require some further visual investigating to really notice. From the grille (with six-cylinder crest) to the bed (massaged head to toe, custom latches, and artistic mini-tubs), what may appear to be stock may not be.
The same goes for the interior-Spartan at best, as a truck of this nature was originally meant to be, the only non-steel features are the seat and the floor. But, those particular areas were not covered in typical rubber and vinyl, which is fitting, as Gabe Lopez is anything but a restoration upholsterer. No, and despite not having a whole lot to work with, all the renowned interior artisan had to do was throw down a nice short-loop carpet flooring and, after replacing stock springs with shaped foam, recover the bench seat with a stylish basket-weave vinyl. Hidden discretely is a full complement of audio equipment-Kenwood CarPortal touch-screen, ARC Audio amps and front speakers, and Tangband rears and a subwoofer-all craftily installed and tuned by the Audio Shoppe. And don't forget the gauges-while they, too, appear to be stock for all intents and purposes, in reality, they are, just finely restored and updated electronically courtesy of United Speedometer (both companies located in Riverside, California).
Sure, John Devine's F-100 is no revolutionary truck by any means. But, it is what can be construed as the perfect example of the ultimate understatement: Simple and to the point, but done just right.