It seems that in recent decades family heirlooms aren't surviving the hand-me-down through the generations as in days gone by. Maybe it's because people fall on hard times and have to sell the family jewels or it could be that up-and-coming family members don't value the past like their forefathers. Whatever the case may be, an heirloom could be something as simple as an old truck passed on to someone who spent their formative years riding shotgun in it. While this isn't a unique scenario, it's one that keeps many classic trucks from the scrapper and people like Neil Utt happy.
James Utt bought this '57 Ford off a used car lot in Mount Airy, North Carolina, back in 1959. Neil was only 6 years old at the time, but remembers the stock red and white truck being like new. Unfortunately Neil's dad didn't buy it to go on Sunday drives-he bought it to work. He added over-load springs to aid in hauling loads of gravel and rock amongst other things for the next 40 years. Neil did get to borrow the truck from time to time to do things like get his driver's license and go to the drive-in movies.
Upon James Utt's retirement in 1999, he bought a new truck and gave the '57 to Neil. Despite being in rough condition from the decades of being a work truck, Neil was happy to have it, but knew he needed help to return it to a better-than-new condition. Neil enlisted his brother Ricky for some major help.
Ricky spent about year rebuilding the Ford from the ground up. Neil knew he wanted to be able to drive the truck and enjoy it, so Ricky installed a Jim Meyer IFS in place of the straight axle and parallel leafs up front. This also gave way to rack-and-pinion steering and 12-inch disc brakes. In the rear are a set of dropped leaf springs and coilover shocks that connect to a Ford 9-inch with freeway cruisin' 3.00:1 gears.
Neil went ahead and ordered a 300 hp 302 Ford from Jasper Racing engines that is stuffed with hi-po rods and pistons, and a hydraulic roller cam. The small-block Ford also wears an Edelbrock Performer 600-cfm carb and intake combo as well as a Pertronix distributor, Patriot headers, Billet Specialties wire looms and pulleys, and Ford Racing valve covers.
Ricky had his work cut out for him straightening out the old body, but he did so and then some. The stake pockets were filled, and he made a custom radiator cover, shaved the hood emblems, filled the louvers in the cowl, and smoothed the firewall before spraying the truck in DuPont orange. Oak and stainless now fill the bed floor, and the bumpers, stock front and a Bronco in back, were sucked in closer to the body for a tighter look. Billet Specialties Vintec 16- and 18-inch wheels were picked for their slick classic and modern look, and wrapped in Goodyear rubber.
Ricky was also busy inside the cab. He filled the speaker area and deleted the ashtray and radio holes. He also built a center console/transmission tunnel to mimic the stock lines on the '57 hood. A bench seat from TEA's Design was ordered in sand simple tweed, and the door panels are from RodDoors. Ricky is responsible for all the upholstery work except for the seats. He even made the custom sill plates and had Tri-City Plating in Elizabethton, Tennessee, chrome them.
In the end, Neil and Ricky couldn't be happier, and are glad to be a part of solidifying Utt family history as well as making some of their own!