When Phyllis Smith inherited her grandparents ’63 Ford pickup she was sure of two things, she would keep the old truck and it would be preserved as a family keepsake. Memories of riding to school in Virginia as a child made a life-long connection. The old, red truck had served the family well, but like most farm trucks this old Ford had spent most of its years outside working. Rust had taken its toll, the floors were rotted, there were plenty of work-related dents, and to make things worse, a carport had collapsed on the old truck, damaging the cab. There is no doubt that Phyllis could have found a truck in better condition, but then it wouldn’t have been her grandfather’s truck.
And so the somewhat beat and battered old truck was brought to Aaron Watkins at R.A.W. Rods in Powell, Tennessee, with the intent of building a decent driver out of the old truck. Everything on the truck was tired, the old six-cylinder engine and three-speed transmission were the first to go, and then all-new floorpans and lower cab panels were welded in place. The bed was simply beyond reasonable repair. It was obvious this would be an extensive project, but Phyllis was determined to fix the old, red truck. After some discussion it was decided that rather than build a restored driver the truck should be updated with modern brakes, steering, and engine, and as you can see by the time it was over Phyllis Smith had built a very high-caliber street truck.
After the cab was structurally sound it was lifted off the chassis and the ground-up restoration began. The front I-beam suspension was replaced with a Fatman Fabrications front suspension, complete with disc brakes and Ford rack-and-pinion steering. The rear suspension consists of parallel leaf springs and the rear drum brakes were replaced with disc brakes from Master Power Brakes. Since the truck was lowered in the rear the chassis was C-notched for axle clearance and up front the frame was boxed in preparation for a new motor.
Now, Phyllis Smith remembers riding to school in this old cab with the gentle rattle of the inline six-cylinder motor producing 135 hp from 223 cubic inches. This time around the F-100 has a bit more power thanks to a Ford Racing crate motor that produces 345 hp from 302 cubic inches. The iron block is filled with forged pistons while the SVO aluminum heads have roller rockers inside. At a glance you could mistake the motor for a typical 4-bbl carbureted engine, but under the finned breather you’ll find an Edelbrock EFI intake manifold and Edelbrock throttle body for smooth, modern performance. A complete March serpentine belt system spins the power steering pump, alternator, and Vintage Air A/C compressor. A Griffin aluminum radiator and fan cool the 302. Behind the crate motor a Ford AOD transmission from TCI provides performance with overdrive mileage. An ididit column-mounted shifter handles the gear selection and kickdown control. Sonny’s Drive Line fabricated the new steel driveshaft to complete the chassis work.
The body remains completely stock, and after the cab and front-end sheetmetal had been brought back to better-than-new condition a new bed from Dan Carpenter was prepped for paint too. Phyllis wanted the truck to remain red so she picked a PPG Pearl Red finish that was applied by Aaron Watkins. The color is stunning in the sun, and like most pearls it changes color with the light, sometimes appearing almost copper and other times a brilliant red. The bed was relined with African mahogany and stainless steel strips, completing the exterior.