For years, the men of the Gregoire clan were classic Ford pickup enthusiasts, and as a result, young Jack was surrounded by a slew of ’61 to ’66-style Ford pickups. As Jack got older, the classic truck bug bit him as well, and just like his dad and brother, the ’61 to ’66 Ford body style became his favorite too.
As the years passed and Jack got older he began looking for a solid pickup project of his own. After a while he found and purchased a ’61 stepside shortbed and proceeded to drive it while he planned its rodstoration. Not long after beginning the process he ran across a relatively solid ’63 Unibody at a reasonable price and decided he’d turn his attention to it rather than the ’61. After driving the Unibody for a while, Jack’s good friend Keith Spivey (who at the time was building a hot rod ’36 Ford pickup) convinced him that it was time to tear the ’63 apart and rebuild it as a high-quality hot rod pickup.
Once Jack and Keith began to disassemble the Unibody they found that the Camaro clip installed by the truck’s previous owner was nowhere close to their standard of quality so Jack ended up using the frame from the ’61 as a fresh foundation for the ’63. The ’61 frame was treated to a Fatman Fabrications Mustang II-style IFS setup as well as a Fatman coil-sprung four-bar assembly. Once the chassis mods were complete, Jack prepped and painted the chassis and installed a fresh Roger Conley-built 351 Cleveland backed by a C6 transmission, a custom driveshaft, and the aforementioned four-bar and 9-inch rearend.
Once the rolling chassis was relatively complete, Jack’s pal Keith began putting his fabrication skills to work on the pickup’s body/bed assembly. The body was reinstalled on the rolling chassis and then the firewall was filled and smoothed, the cowl vent filled, the dashboard smoothed and the glovebox and ashtray filled. The cab floor pans were then repaired and a custom console fabricated to match the newly customized dash. At this point the pickup was turned over to Sonny Bennett owner of Ella Paint & Body for bodywork (which included shaving the driprails, filling the body seams and stake pockets, and filling the fuel filler opening in the cab corner) and paint.
As Sonny completed the prep and paint, his shop began to get extremely busy. Rather than slow down progress on the Unibody he suggested Jack contact Randy Borcherding and his crew at the Painthouse to have them complete the project. Randy and the team realigned the fenders and grille, fabricated and installed the pickup’s lifting bed floor, smoothed, painted, and polished the hood, and sanded and cleared the complete body.
The truck was moved from the Painthouse to the home of Jack’s pal Keith for final engine work, wiring, plumbing, and interior assembly. Keith, along with his brother Gary and pals Rick and Greg, performed some suspension tweaks while Jack tried out a couple of different tire and wheel combinations to get the look and stance he desired. As you can plainly see, Jack’s Unibody came out beautifully and he’s having a ball spending many a weekend behind the wheel of his dream truck.
1963 Ford unibody
Frame: modified stock
Rearend / Ratio: 9-inch Ford / 3.55:1
Rear suspension: Fatman Fabrications four-bar, Panhard bar, coilovers
Rear brakes: Ford Explorer disc
Front suspension: Fatman Fabrications M-II style IFS, Heidts 2-inch drop spindles
Front brakes: 11-inch GM disc
Steering box: GM power rack-and-pinion
Front wheels: Billet Specialties Apex-G, 18x8
Rear wheels: Billet Specialties Apex-G, 18x9
Front tires: Nitto 555 Extreme, 245/40ZR18
Rear tires: Nitto 555 Extreme, 255/40ZR18
Gas tank: Rock Valley, polished stainless
Engine: ’70 Ford 351 Cleveland by Roger Conley
Heads: Ford 4V
Valve covers: Ford Racing
Manifold / Induction: Weiand / two Holley 600-cfm
Ignition: MSD 6AL
Headers: Sanderson Blockhuggers
Exhaust / Mufflers: 2½-inch stainless by Texas Quality Exhaust / stainless
Transmission: ’70 Ford C6 by Carter’s Automatic Transmission
Style: Unibody pickup
Modifications: shaved driprails, filled stake pockets, filled seams, relocated fuel filler, filled cowl, smoothed firewall, shaved emblems
Fenders front / rear: stock / stock
Grille: stock, chromed
Bodywork and paint by: Sonny Bennett and Randy Borcherding
Paint type / Color: urethane / Nissan Imperial Orange
Headlights / Taillights: Tri-Bar / stock
Bumpers: front narrowed, shaved stock / rear rolled pan
Dashboard: modified stock, Haneline insert
Gauges: Haneline Pro Series
Air conditioning: Vintage Air
Steering wheel: Billet Specialties Rival
Steering column: Flaming River
Seats: Rod Doors
Upholstery by: Custom Upholstery
Material / Color: leather / natural
Carpet: Rod Doors, gold