For years, I've said that one of the best things about being involved in this hobby is the countless like-minded people you get to meet and often befriend. Recently while attending the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, I was lucky enough to run across Bill Townsend and his awesome '48 F-1. As is normally the case, when I expressed interest in the truck the conversation revolved around the how, why, and what it took to get the vehicle to its current state. And again, as it normally goes, I got to hear an entertaining backstory that was amazingly similar to many a gearhead's-mine included.
Bill bought his first car when he was 15-a $150 flathead V8-powered '41 Ford coupe to which he soon added fender skirts, dual exhaust, a Stromberg 97 carb, Lincoln Zephyr gears, and a Columbia rearend. The car was lowered in the rear, because "tail draggers" were all the rage back then.
Since then he's owned many cars, including a '57 Thunderbird, a '57 Chevrolet, several Camaros, a '65 and a '93 Mustang convertible, a 914 Porsche, a '75 Bricklin, a '32 Ford five-window coupe, a '35 Ford chopped sedan, a '67 Firebird convertible, a '39 Ford coupe with a Corvette engine, and finally his current '48 Ford pickup.
He bought the pickup back in August 2006 at the NSRA Nats (the same show where I recently ran across it). At that time he still owned his '39 Ford coupe, but fell in love with that F-1 and just had to have it. So he went ahead and bought it-then, he called his wife, Susan, to let her know what he'd done (he's a braver man than I). Needless to say, the atmosphere around the house was a bit chilly after he got home. However, he's since sold the '39 Ford coupe and today his wife, Susan, loves the pickup as much as he does.
When he first bought the F-1 it had the standard GM 350/350 combo, a tilt GM steering column, and a Mustang II front end. The small-block's valve covers leaked oil on the exhaust pipes and it smoked like crazy, and one of the rear fenders was missing a brace and "flapped" in the wind all the way home, as well. Though it looked good from a bit of a distance, it was full of clearcoat runs and obviously someone's first paintjob. But aside from the body style, the pickup's light yellow color was what had attracted him to the F-1 in the first place.
Once things calmed down on the home front Bill took the pickup over to his bodyman Tony Pease's body shop in Lenox, Tennessee. Tony massaged and reworked the entire body, filled the front fender seams, removed the vent windows, added a Hagen gas door in the rear fender, a stainless steel gas tank between the rear rails, cruise control, GM 11-inch power front disc brakes, power windows, LED taillights, and repainted the truck the same color. Once he got it back home, Bill added Kool Knobs to all the dash switches, installed a Gaylords fiberglass bedcover painted to match the truck, and dressed up the engine with a Top Shapes engine cover, lots of chrome and a pair of chrome header covers from a Boss Hoss motorcycle.
Next, Bill took the '48 over to upholsterer Bill Calkins' shop, in Bradford, Arkansas. He upholstered the truck with distressed tan vinyl and Ostrich trim with tan wool carpet in both the cab and the bed. He built the radio console for the roof of the truck, installed the Pioneer radio/MP3 player, and installed heat/lumbar supports into the Wise Guys seat as well as a set of three-point seatbelts from Juliano's Hot Rod Parts.
Bill Calkins's friend Gene Reagan, also from Bradford, did the pinstriping and painted the bird on the Top Shapes engine cover.
The truck was finally finished back in April 2007, and the first big show he attended was a Goodguys show in Nashville. He entered the truck in the Pros Pick area and, to his surprise, won the "Hot Hauler" award.
In May of 2008 he added a set of Diamond Back whitewalls, which really made a difference in the look of the truck. Just recently Bill had Tony Pease add stainless steel trim strips on the running boards, and replace the TH350 transmission with a 4L60E from Gear Star and the original gauges with a set of Auto Meter antique quad's with a tach/speedometer.
As I mentioned, Bill's owned a slew of what he thought were "cool" vehicles over the years but he says this little truck is the "coolest" of all-and I tend to agree.