While we love to look at beautifully customized old trucks, we’re always curious about the background stories involved with the transformation. One of the most interesting tales we’ve heard in a while came from Mark Cresap, an HVAC manager for an air-conditioning company in Jefferson, Maryland. Mark has been an active enthusiast from a very young age, underscored by the way he obtained this 1955 Ford panel truck.
When we asked about the origins of the truck, he smiled and said “This is the reason I went to church! From age 13 to 16, I hounded the owner every Sunday until I was able to buy the truck. It cost me a princely sum of $250, and although I didn’t have a license at the time, I drove it home! The owner told me if I ever sold it, he wanted it back.”
That’s probably not relevant anymore since Mark has owned the truck for 41 years! The former floral delivery truck was in excellent condition, never subjected to heavy loads and taken good care of by the previous owner. The original 239 Y-block under the hood was rebuilt when Mark was about 18 and then the venerable old truck was stored away in a corner of the garage on jackstands for more than two decades. Mark’s interest in Corvettes and motorcycles satisfied his need for speed, so it took a suggestion from Mark’s wife Vickie to get the old truck back on the road.
Attacking the rebuild with a vengeance eight years ago, one of Mark’s first steps was to have 3x5 stainless steel framerails fashioned by Pro’s Pick in Arthur, Ontario, reasoning that the torque and flexing from the big motor planned for the truck might cause painted or powdercoated rails to crack and peel. Martz Chassis Inc. in Bedford, Pennsylvania, handled the suspension upgrades, creating the polished upper and lower Mustang II frontend and adding T-Bird power rack-and-pinion steering.
The rear is a Winters all-aluminum, polished 9-inch with a four-link, Panhard bar, Moser axles, and 4.30 gears. Polished SSBC 12-inch disc brakes snub all four wheels and the truck rolls on 17x9.5-inch American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels in the rear with 60-series series Falken tires. Up front the truck uses 17x8 inch rims wrapped in 50-series Falken rubber. Just for fun, they added a RideTech air suspension system with an automatic load-leveling feature, allowing the truck to assume a show stance at the touch of a button. To ensure long-distance cruising, the truck boasts a 30-gallon polished aluminum fuel tank.
The powdercoated gold motor, built by Phil’s Auto Machine in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, is also unique, beginning as a FoMoCo 460 racing block, now sporting 547 cubic inches, thanks to a combination of a .60 over bore and stroker crank. Aluminum heads promote free breathing, taking full advantage of the Weiand aluminum high-rise intake with dual quad Quick Fuel 750s. MSD ignition lights the fire and custom-made, Jet Hot silver-coated headers flow from 2.25 into a 3.50 exhaust system, baffled with custom-made 22-inch mufflers. A dash-mounted switch opens the electric cutouts to bypass the mufflers, creating something very close to a NASCAR roar!
The unique custom-made fan shroud, complete with four fans, keeps the big motor cool and a set of 1970 Thunderbird 429 V-8 engine pulleys energize the accessories. Gold powdercoated valve covers add to the look and everything is neatly routed in the sanitary engine compartment. Shifting is always part of the fun, using the Richmond six-speed transmission with a Hurst floor shift. A 5-inch ProMod aluminum driveshaft transmits the estimated 600 hp to the rear. “I’ve never had anything with this much snot in it before,” Mark says smiling. “But I really wanted a ground pounder.”