There's one year model of classic truck that's been a trendsetter ever since the day it was brand new, and that's the '56 Ford F-100. Right from the showroom floor guys were hot-rodding, engine swapping, customizing, car showing, and just plain running the wheels off them.
When Terry Baker and his three sons decided they'd really like to own a nice old truck, like the Ford F-1 Terry saw while visiting Wisconsin, they weren't out to own a classic truck as iconic as the '32 Ford Deuce is to street rodders – it just turned out that way. Terry's youngest son Bradd did a little digging around on eBay and found a small-window '56 Ford pickup right in his new hometown of Abilene, Texas. The Baker boys bid on the truck, but didn't meet the reserve, in fact nobody did.
After the bidding was over the Bakers drove over to see the pickup in person, and ended up buying it for their highest bid. Under the hood it had a pretty rough-running small-block Chevrolet engine, and on the outside it had a rough body and paint to match. The next the thing the SBC knew it was sitting in a pile of body parts next to the Ford it came out of.
The Bakers were really going to town stripping the '56 Ford down to the frame when they realized they didn't have the tools they needed or the room to build it in. They studied their options and chose House of Hot Rods, a shop with a really good reputation that just happened to be right there in the Baker's hometown of Mansfield, Texas.
The first thing to go was the small-block Chevy motor – a move that would have pleased Terry's dad, a Ford V-8 man from the word go. The boys only had to travel 40 miles away to AER in Carrolton, Texas, for a Ford Performance 302 crate motor. For induction, the 302 is running a Holley HP EFI throttle-body on a Holley intake manifold.
For exhaust, Hooker headers run through stainless steel exhaust pipes into a pair of stainless steel MagnaFlow mufflers. The Ford Racing valve covers are billet aluminum, molded and painted. The automatic transmission is a Ford AOD hooked up to a 9-inch Ford packing 3.25:1 gears.
The original '56 Ford F-100 frame was kept along with retaining the '80s-trend Plymouth Volare torsion bar frontend, plus it was boxed, shaved, and smoothed. To bring the Volare up to snuff, a set of Fatman Fabrications 2-inch drop spindles returned the torsion bar to where it rides best. Power steering and disc brakes is another bonus one gets with a Volare setup. An ididit steering column steers 20-inch Billet Specialties Legacy wheels stuffed in 245x45x20 Nitto NT 555 tires. Out back 22-inch Legacy wheels are mated with 285x35x22 Nitto NT 555s.
The two-tone gloss/semi-gloss PPG, and Spies Hecker paint on the Baker's '56 was sprayed by House of Hot Rods' Randy Mason with graphics by Chad Mahone. The show-quality chrome plating was handled by J&B Chrome of Haltom, Texas.
The cab's interior, done in-house at House of Hot Rods by Gordon Burke, features a pair of Corbeau buckets. Everything in sight is covered in black and red leather and suede. The door panels are hand formed, and the full-length console was fabricated out of fine Corinthian steel.
The Classic Instruments dash insert is packed with Auto Meter American Muscle gauges. All the 12-volt juice flowing through the '56 is thanks to a Painless Performance harness installed by House of Hot Rods' Mat Oller. Painless and Old Air, where the truck's A/C came from, are both from Ft. Worth, Texas. We don't know if anyone else noticed, but it looks like an entire customized classic truck could be built without ever leaving Dallas-Ft. Worth.