H ave you ever gone to a car show and fallen in love with one particular truck? This was the case with Tom Devlin who always had a soft spot for the iconic Ford F-100 pickup. Running across that particular F-100 was the last straw; it was time for Tom to take the plunge and either find or build himself a cool classic pickup – and the hunt was on (with help from his youngest son Tim). After numerous fruitless searches Tom finally found the right one at a Texas Goodguys show. The ’55 F-100 he’d found had the look he was after and, although it was in decent running and driving condition, there was still plenty of work to be done, and that’d give him the opportunity to personalize the pickup to his own taste.
The purchase was made and the truck was hauled back to Augusta, Kansas. Having the truck back in his garage, Tom couldn’t help but notice what stood out with his recent purchase. It had the perfect stance and a color he liked, but unfortunately there were primer spots where the hood emblems had been shaved and filled. Tom didn’t let those spots keep him from driving and enjoying the Ford – that is until he reached the point where he couldn’t continue to look at those primer spots any longer. After a chat with his son Tim, who owns Devlin Rod & Customs, they decided it was time to repaint the truck. What he ended up with was a little more than a paintjob!
With the truck in Tim’s shop, they took it down to the frame and started from there. With the front suspension apart, the 3-inch drop axle was stripped and repainted then mated up with a fresh spring and reinstalled along with a pair of fresh Monroe shocks. The manual steering box was in serious need of a rebuild, and with that completed the focus was then turned toward the rear suspension. The stock rearend was also treated to a complete rebuild, while the pickup’s rear framerails were notched to accommodate the new lowered stance.
Above and beyond the standard body straightening and fresh paint, Tom and Tim decided to treat the pickup to a few subtle custom touches that added to the clean lines of the F-100. The hood trim was shaved along with smoothing out and filling the factory ribbed firewall. All the fender, door, and hood gaps were tightened and cleaned up as well. A custom tailgate latch was installed, which wrapped up the list of details Tom had planned for his prized project.
Once the chassis and body had been refreshed, it was time to focus on the driveline. The Ford’s 239-cube Y-block was pulled and rebuilt. The freshened engine now breathes through an Edmonds air cleaner and a PerTronix ignition system provides spark. The original exhaust was replaced by a pair of ram’s-horn manifolds and a pair of Smithy’s glasspack mufflers. Topping off the motor are a pair of Offenhauser finned-aluminum valve covers and the crunchy old original wiring was replaced by a new cloth-covered wiring harness before the guys mated the F-100’s motor to the original three-speed manual transmission.
Where this classic truck really stands out though is the paint. Ryan James with Devlin Rod & Customs worked his magic and delivered a flawless paintjob using RM urethane in an original 1955 Ford truck commercial blue. Both bumpers were sent off to Sherm’s Chrome Plating in Sacramento, California, to be stripped and re-chromed, while the master woodworking skills of Jeff Sawders were utilized to give the new bed wood an antique custom look.
With the exterior of the truck flawlessly restored and repainted, Tim knew that the interior would have to receive just as much attention. The idea was to end up with something clean and simple, so he contacted Scott Downey of Downey’s Auto Upholstery in Wichita, Kansas, and had them handle the pickup’s interior. Scott took the stock bench and wrapped it in fresh blue vinyl with light blue 1955 Ford passenger car fabric inserts. The stock instrumentation was refinished and refaced by Classic Instruments while a vintage Sun tachometer was given the reface treatment to match the new gauges. Staying true to the truck’s traditional styling, Tim added a 1949 Ford AM radio connected to a pair of Pioneer speakers – perfect for listening to some ’50s rock ’n’ roll.
The finishing touch to Tom’s F-100 came in the way of a quartet of 16-inch steel wheels wrapped in brand-new wide white bias-ply Firestones (6x16 up front and 7x16s out back). With Tim’s rodstoration work complete, it was time to hand the keys back to his dad. Needless to say, when Tim and the guys at Devlin Rod & Customs revealed the truck Tom was awestruck. Tom was just expecting a repainted truck, not one that was totally redone. To add to his excitement, the very same Goodguys show that started it all was just around the corner and Tom knew what he had to do – take his beautiful pride and joy back to the show.
After completion of the show, Tom was taken aback once more when he discovered that his truck had received an award (along with two other vehicles built by Devlin Rod & Customs). From a quick paintjob to an award-winning rodstoration was more than Tom could have hoped for and he’s not sure what he’s more proud of – his fresh new hot rod pickup or his talented and loving son.
1955 Ford F-100
Frame: modified stock
Modifications: smoothed and C’d
Rearend / Ratio: ’55 Ford / 3.92:1
Rear suspension: 48x2-inch, six-leaf parallel
Rear brakes: 11x1.75-inch drum
Front suspension: 42x1.75-inch, eight-leaf parallel
Front brakes: 11x2-inch drum
Steering box: stock manual
Front wheels: 16-inch steel
Rear wheels: 16-inch steel
Front tires: Firestone 6x16
Rear tires: Firestone 7x16
Gas tank: stock
Engine: 239ci Y-block
Heads: stock iron
Valve covers: aluminum Offy
Manifold / Induction: stock iron manifold / stock single-bbl
Ignition: PerTronix Ignitor
Headers: ram’s-horn manifolds
Exhaust / Mufflers: aluminized / Smithy’s
Transmission: stock HD three-speed manual
Modifications: all gaps aligned
Fenders front / rear: stock / stock
Hood: stock, shaved
Bodywork and paint by: Devlin Rod & Customs, Wichita, KS
Paint type / Color: RM urethane / ’55 Ford truck commercial blue
Headlights / Taillights: stock / stock
Outside mirrors: stock
Bumpers: stock, re-chromed
Gauges: stock, refurbished by Classic Instruments
Air conditioning: none
Stereo: ’49 Ford AM tube-type radio
Steering wheel: stock
Steering column: stock
Seats: reupholstered stock
Upholstery by: Downey’s Auto Upholstery, Wichita, KS
Material / Color: blue vinyl & cloth
Carpet: blue cut pile