When most people happen across a junkyard they look upon it with disdain; wrecking yards to them are nothing but a bunch junk cars and trucks cluttering the countryside and taking up space. On the other hand, to folks like us it's like finding a treasure chest and not knowing just what we might discover inside. A classic trucker's paradise one might say. Such was the case with Kevin Witte and the '56 Ford panel he plucked from one such local junkyard (one that was being closed down due to the construction of a new interstate, as a matter of fact). We must say Kevin's '56 panel is now far from the sorry husk of a truck it once was. So let's take a glimpse at how this amazing discovery became Kevin's treasure ...
Dragged directly home from a junkyard you can only imagine the shape it was in when Kevin first decided he wanted to tackle this project. Knowing from the start that this would not just be a two-month project, Kevin was committed to the time and labor he'd need to invest to transform the tired old panel into the classic truck he'd always wanted. So with the help of his kids and brother the rodstoration was underway! The process started by taking this monster down to its bare frame. Kevin decided to go ahead and fill all the unneeded holes in the frame and box it while he was at it. With the frame prepped and ready for updating it was time to continue on with the build.
Kevin installed a combination of a polished stainless IFS setup and rear four-link suspension with coilovers from Total Cost Involved Engineering allowing him to slam this bad boy to the ground. As you can see lowering the panel 6 inches turned out to be a perfect move on Kevin's part, giving the '56 a perfect stance. Once the suspension was taken care of Kevin decided to go ahead and start working on a powerplant for the portly panel. After much thought he chose to go with a bored and stroked 440 Mopar (by Dan Witte and Dave Vidis) transforming it into a huge 512-cube monster. The pistons, connecting rods, and crankshaft are all 440 source. Heads are Edelbrock aluminum units as is the Edelbrock RPM intake manifold that's topped with a 750-cfm carburetor. For a camshaft Kevin chose a Lunati Voodoo with a lift of 513-533 and 234-242 duration. With such a big motor Kevin needed to find a way to let this baby breathe so he opted for a pair of Sanderson headers emptying into a 21/2-inch polished stainless exhaust system. To back this monster Kevin chose a beefy '76 Chrysler 727, housing top-notch TCI internals. Kevin didn't go cheap or try to cut any corners on the frame and motor work, and that didn't seem to change as he worked his way through the rest of this project. With the chassis completed, and motor and trans handled it was time to work on the body.
The body itself remained relatively stock for the most part, except for a few subtle changes. Kevin started out by rounding the door corners. The hood was then fitted with a reverse tilt hinge setup and a pair of custom side vents to help keep her cool when needed. A pair of power antennas was frenched into the body for a bit of a traditional custom look too. The rear roll pan was custom fabricated from the original bumper with custom openings for the Cadillac exhaust tips and the license plate opening. An aluminum gas tank was fabbed up by Kevin's son, and nicely done we might add. As you may have noticed the taillights are far from original as Kevin chose a pair from an '89 Cadillac, giving it that one-of-a-kind look Kevin desired. Now with most of the bodywork done and paint ready Kevin wanted a perfect set of wheels and tires to complete the look he was after. A set of KMC wheels in 17x7s and 20x8s are wrapped in Vogue rubber. With the rear tires being monster 305/50VR20s Kevin realized he'd have to fabricate some rear wheel tubs to get 'em to fit. After that was all finished and prepped it was finally time to slip into the booth and toss on the orange and gold pearl PPG paint by Billy, Stevie, and Bud at Rickenbaugh Cadillac in Denver.