If seven is a lucky number, does that make 77 doubly lucky? Marty Nordhus, of Seneca, Kansas, sure thinks so-and he offers up his extremely clean '77 F-100 as evidence.
It's certainly fortunate for any late-'70s truck to have survived the Midwest elements in such fine condition. But Marty feels the luck of his Ford runs much deeper than mere longevity. The bright red Ford has been in the Nordhus family for more than three decades and played a substantial role in helping Marty and his wife, Tracy, raise their four children. Marty is quick to point out how lucky he felt just discovering the truck one day on his way to work back in 1979. We'll let him relate the story.
"I saw this beautiful bright red '77 Ford F-100 sitting at Rick Honeyman's Ford body shop," Marty says. "I went home right away and asked Terry about buying it. Money was pretty tight, but my wife-sweetheart that she is-told me to buy it. Truth is, I think she liked the truck more than I did. I'm lucky to have her as my wife!
"For the next 30 years, the truck seemed to become a part of us," Marty says. "I remember bringing home our newborn daughters in Old Red. When we went to church on Sundays, I brought the kids in the truck. When they went to birthday parties, the truck was there. When our two sons were old enough to become Boy Scouts, I became an assistant scoutmaster-and Old Red pulled a trailer loaded with gear on countless camping trips for the next 12 years.
"Our family has a lot of good memories with the truck. Every Christmas, we'd go to a tree farm and Old Red would deliver our Christmas tree. The kids got involved in sports as they got older. You take four kids to practices and games for four years each, and you can just imagine the windshield time I had in Old Red. We were often on the road every night of the week, but I can't think of any time the truck let me down or left me stranded. It seems the truck was just lucky.
"Probably the saddest time I had with Old Red was when I helped my son and his wife move to Colorado. Yet even during that 1,600-mile trip I never had anything but good luck with the truck.
"After nearly 210,000 miles, however, Old Red began showing its age. Rust was starting on the cab corners and lower doors, and it seemed it might be time to sell our faithful Ford. This news did not go over well at all with my family. They said the truck had too many good memories and that maybe we should restore it. That was music to my ears-and it seemed that luck was again on my side!"
Marty took a second job to help fund Old Red's restoration. As the UPS deliveryman became more familiar with the Nordhus address, Marty was busy finding the right people to help in the rebuild. Jamie Benskin of Benskin Motors was called on to rebuild the 302 V-8, which was treated to a COMP camshaft, Edelbrock heads, intake and carb, Hedman headers, and plenty of chrome and polish. Benskin also rebuilt the truck's C4 transmission.
Marty had more good luck with Brian Osterhaus and Jim Schraad at OC Paintwerkz. The duo repaired the rust, massaged the metal straight and sprayed a fresh red finish using DuPont materials. And rather than use vinyl tape to replicate the truck's original sport striping, the OC crew first laid down a white basecoat and taped off the pattern before shooting the red finish. This made for a seamless graphic scheme once the body received its final clearcoat.
Considering all the good fortune Marty has had with his Ford, he decided to do something unique and special in the bed. The Ford ovals and a pair of dice were laser cut from bird's-eye maple, with the Ford script, F-100 lettering, and lucky 77s cut from darker blood wood. Marty used a router to modify the Mar-K oak bed wood to accept his custom accents, and says this touch draws many compliments at shows.