Sitting under a tree in Watertown, Minnesota, with no motor and no trans, rotting away was a weathered ’56 Ford F-100. Now that paints a picture of what Mike Werson’s Ford might have ended up spending the rest of its dying days as – a dead carcass of a truck, but his vision was to rebuild it to a showroom finish. You may wonder why anyone would want to take a beat-up truck from a field and make it run again.
To answer that question, let’s look into a little of Mike’s childhood. He grew up in the same town that manufactures Tonka toys, and when he was a child he had tons of little yellow dump trucks. One day a neighbor brought a yellow ’70s C10 home that reminded young Mike of one of his Tonka toys. At the time, Mike was around 13 years old and building model cars, trucks, and whatever other model vehicle he could get his hands on.
He was all about perfection with his paintjobs and would spend countless hours making every model look as good as the real thing. One day that same neighbor came home and had a flame job on his C10 and Mike thought that was the coolest thing he had ever seen. So he picked up a pinstriping brush and tried to make flames on everything he had. I’m sure his parents were proud, but at the same time were hoping they wouldn’t come home to a flame job on the TV set.
After a few years, young Mike had grown into a teen and was ready to drive, but he had nothing to scoot him around town. A hand-me-down Vega from his parents served him well until someone rear-ended it and totaled it out. So with nothing to drive he was thinking about his early Tonka truck days and decided to buy a ’55 F-100 that worked well for his high school years. That’s when he found the ’56 under the tree and his wheels started spinning like the inside of a grandfather clock.
So after making a deal with the owner Mike towed the pickup home with his ’55 F-100. A week before graduating high school Mike made a deal for a small-block 289 with a C4 transmission so he could be one step further on the ’56. Mike’s dad took one look at the driveway full of old trucks and had a fit. He basically told Mike that one of the trucks had to go and Mike decided to keep the ’56 instead of the running ’55. This was back in 1981 and Mike had the truck running, but for some reason it kept breaking down.
He went through several engines, transmissions, and rearends until he decided to rethink the truck. He noticed others installing donor frontends from GM full-sized cars and decided to try it out himself. He thought about installing a Ford engine back into the fresh donor clip, but the stock Chevelle clip was already set up for a small-block Chevy engine. Eventually a ’71 Camaro engine was placed into the pickup and the truck had a new lower stance because of the car frontend.
At that time the rearend was flipped over the springs to drop it down. Eventually Mike replaced the springs for a TCI four-link that rides a lot better than the stiff stock springs. Mike was still pinstriping and someone wanted him to pinstripe their ’46 Ford, but the guy didn’t have any money. He did, however, have a rebuilt transmission that fit his Chevy engine.
Back when he was replacing some of the bed parts, companies like Brothers, LMC, and others didn’t have replacement parts like they do today. Mike needed a bedside so he made one with the use of a break that was in the back of a buddy’s heating and air-conditioning van. Now the only hard part to was to decide what color to paint the truck. A one-off color of what Mike calls Fort Walton Beach Florida Beige was mixed for his cool-looking pickup and the rest is history. Mike finished the truck back in 1988 and has been slowly adding parts to the build like the new set of Rocket Racing Wheels and the BFGoodrich tires.
“He was all about perfection with his paintjobs and would spend countless hours making every model look as good as the real thing.”
1956 Ford F-100
Frame: stock / with ’71 Chevelle stub
Modifications: front clip from a ’71 Chevelle
Rearend / Ratio: 12-bolt / 3.27
Rear suspension: TCI four-link
Rear brakes: disc
Front suspension: ’71 Chevelle
Front brakes: disc
Steering box: ’71 Chevelle
Front wheels: Rocket Booster Gray 17x7
Rear wheels: Rocket Booster Gray 18x8
Front tires: BFGooodrich G Force 225/45zR17
Rear tires: BFGooodrich G Force 255/45zR18
Gas tank: under bed
Engine: Chevy crate engine 350
Heads: World S/R Torque 67cc
Valve covers: Gearhead Aluminum
Manifold: Edelbrock Performer RPM
Ignition: MSD Pro Billet w/MSD 6A box
Exhaust / Mufflers: Flowmaster 40 series / 3-inch exhaust
Modifications: shift kit and non-lock up converter
Shifter: stock column with Lokar linkage
Style: F-100 stepside
Fenders front: stock
Bodywork and paint by: owner / Darrell Samis
Paint type / Color: Deltron / Fort Walton Beach Florida Beige
Headlights / Taillights: Speedway Motors
Outside mirrors: stock
Bumpers: Mar-K / Mid-Fifty F-100 Parts
Gauges: Auto Meter Designer Black
Air conditioning: Vintage Air
Stereo: Kenwood w/Polk audio speakers and 8-inch MTX sub
Steering wheel: Southern Rods
Steering column: GM ’72 Impala
Upholstery by: Tea’s
Material / Color: Tea’s tweed