When John Dioli was 12 years old his neighbor, Bill Holgren, was restoring a '55 Ford F-100 to stock condition. John used to hang out and help with the restoration every chance he got. Jump ahead 22 years and during a local cruise event John met a retired San Diego Pick-ups Limited member named John Dunagan.
John was talking with a few members of the Pick-ups Limited Club and Dunagan mentioned that his '55 F-100 was up for sale. The other guys in the group thought Dunagan said he wanted $25,000 for the truck but John heard $2,500. Later, during the same cruise, John set up a time to go look at the truck at Dunagan's house. John noticed the top was in the middle of being chopped and none of the body was bolted onto the frame. There was a clean motor and transmission but it was a running gear from a '72 Chevy truck, which wasn't John's first choice. With most of the truck in pieces John thought it would make a great parts truck for what he had been planning to build for his wife, Sandy. John handed Dunagan the cash and headed home with his new purchase.
Chuck, another San Diego Pick-ups Limited member, found out John purchased the truck and offered to sell him his spare cab and doors. With all of the replacement parts at his disposal, this got the wheels in John's head turning, and after promising Sandy that this truck was going to be her truck when it was all done, he got the go-ahead.
John started on the suspension to get his dropped stance. The frontend was replaced with a Plymouth Volaré with a spindle that John modified and lowered 2 inches. While John was working on the frame parts he sent the cab and body panels to Dwain Dalton, of Dalton and Sons in Santee, California. However, the bodywork came to a quick stop when Dalton got really sick and spent the next six months in and out of the hospital. (Thankfully, Dalton was better after a long recovery.)
While John was waiting for his new friend to get better, he started working on the wood for the bed. John really liked the way African Sapele wood looked when finished, so he made a phone call to Mid Fifty, an F-100 parts supplier, and the bed wood was purchased. A few months later John received the PPG Corvette Blue body and panels back from Dalton, which was well worth the wait. Bob Baxter, a friend of John's who has a knowledge of building show trucks, spent the next year helping mount the frame to the body.
Moving onto the interior, John wanted some custom pieces of aluminum to be neatly placed in the dash, so he went to Micky's Metalcraft in El Cajon, where they made a custom center console and an A/C control panel with vents. The interior in the '55 was then covered with Dynomat to reduce road noise and heat transfer. Next up was fitting a seat into the cab, but John didn't want a plain Jane seat, so he lowered the bench 2 inches. Saul Bejarno from Friendly Upholstery in El Cajon helped rework the seat and covered it with two-tone Ultraleather along with the German square-weave custom carpet.
The F-100 was getting close to being finished when John rewired the truck himself, with the exception of Mike Powers who helped with the Alpine stereo install. John got the Chevy motor running and realized that it didn't run as well as he wanted, and with a little investigation he found out that the heads weren't working properly. When John removed them he found that the water jackets had rusted all the way through. At this point John was determined to get the truck on the road, so he replaced the heads, but he says if he had to do it all over again, he would put a Blue Oval motor and drivetrain back in it.