Growing up with a passion for fast cars and hot rods is something most of us have in common. Going through high school attending every possible car show and getting to just every drag race was the nature of the beast. Jim Lamb did just that, but nowadays instead of looking for races they find him!
Eager to buy and build, Jim started his hot rodding madness early in life. He purchased a ’35 Chevy pickup and immediately dropped a Buick nailhead in it. As time passed, Jim was ready to go to college so he sold off what he could and put his hot rod dreams on hold. Over the years he still attended car shows, which eventually led to his love of both ’56 Chevys and Fords. Years passed and Jim’s hobby became woodworking; he soon realized he needed a truck to transport the wood or completed projects. And so began his two-and-half-year search for a classic pickup. After buying classic auto sales publications week in and week out Jim finally found what he was looking for. A ’56 F-100 he’d been watching for nearly a year had come down in price and was finally affordable. A day later the truck was his; even though it smoked and ran pretty rough, Jim knew that wouldn’t last long. After he and his dad gave the truck a thorough inspection they found they had a couple of bad cylinders. A quick fix with a new head gasket, and for nearly 20 years it was off and running.
After saving for many years and nearing retirement Jim decided it was time to turn this little ole Ford into the hot rod you see today. After hearing Mopar was going to manufacture Hemi crate motors Jim knew where he was going with this build. For someone who was into drag racing and hot rodding in the late ’60s the 426 Hemi was just the ticket. Now that engine wasn’t going to be an easy install by any means. First, Jim started with the frame. After reading an issue of CLASSIC TRUCKS he found an article on a frame fabricated by Walton Fabrication that would handle the torque a Hemi puts out. After realizing his dream truck was going to cost more than he ever anticipated Jim turned to his wife to get the OK. Getting the hardest part behind him, Jim was now ready to tackle the task.
Knowing that he was going with the Hemi he wanted to take advantage of a modern fuel injection as well, so he went with one based on the ACCEL DFI Gen 7 system. Being old school, Jim opted for a Richmond five-speed manual transmission with a hydraulic clutch and a 9-inch rearend with Auburn positraction. A custom 3-inch Summit exhaust system and Hedman headers let everyone know that this isn’t your average ’56 Ford. The suspension was done to Jim’s liking with Heidts’ Mustang II crossmembers and QA1 shocks up front and Heidts’ four-bar coilover system in the rear. With all that power he was going to need some serious brakes and cooling, so Jim installed Heidts’ 11-inch disc brakes all around and a Griffin aluminum radiator with a 16-inch electric fan.
The real challenge was fitting the "elephant" engine into the ’56. For that Jim turned to Custom Auto in Loveland, Colorado. They did all of the body modifications and made sure the engine was mounted to that Walton frame in the best location, including modifying the firewall to help tuck the monster in neatly. The fenders needed to be modified and were widened nearly 2 inches. The slope of the fenders was done to perfection, keeping the truck with its stock look but still able to handle the wide tires. Keeping with the original look, Jim kept the rest of the exterior true to its year and changed nothing. Jim called up Bubba Reynolds to paint his sleeper and went with DuPont Ford Dark Jade for the paint. Then, he had Scotty’s Hot Rod Shop add the silver flames.
Last on the list was to get the interior up to shape. Since the Hurst shifter that Jim chose sits on the back of the tranny, keeping the stock bench seat was kind of a problem. Jim chose Chrysler bucket seats upholstered in black vinyl and had the word Hemi stitched in the tops of them. Jim did the upholstery himself, including the refinished vinyl door panels. The chrome steering column and three-spoke bell steering wheel are both products of ididit. The shift arm was custom made to curve out from under the front seat--not the best idea, Jim says. The truck originally had new gauges mounted in holes cut below the original instrument cluster; those were swiftly filled and the old gauges were sent to United Speedometer in California. They were updated and now show 120-mph top speed. Jim installed an aftermarket electric window system and one-piece windows as well.
Jim says one of his best memories with his dad was working on the truck with him. "He loved this truck," he says. Well, Jim, all that work paid off. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy it. CT
Fort Collins, Colorado
1956 Ford F-100
Frame: Walton Fabrication
Rearend / Ratio: 9-inch / 2.75:1
Rear suspension: four-bar / coilover
Rear brakes: disc
Front suspension: Mustang II IFS
Front brakes: disc
Wheels: Wheel Vintiques Smoothie
Front tires: Master Craft, Avenger, 215/70R15
Rear tires: Master Craft, Avenger, 255/70R15
Gas tank: stainless
Engine: Mopar crate Hemi
Heads: Mopar Performance
Valve covers: Mopar Performance
Manifold / Induction: Offenhauser / ACCEL DFI
Exhaust / Mufflers: 3-inch custom / Summit Racing
Modifications: widened fenders, modified firewall, seamless running boards
Fenders: modified stock
Bed: stock, owner installed bed wood
Bodywork and paint by: Custom Auto, Loveland, CO, Bubba Reynolds, Scotty’s Hot Rod Shop
Paint type / Color: DuPont / Dark Jade
Headlights / Taillights: stock
Outside mirrors: stock
Gauges: refurbished stock
Air conditioning: Vintage Air
Steering wheel: ididit
Steering column: ididit
Seats: Chrysler bucket
Upholstery by: owner
Material / Color: vinyl / black