Lots of elements come into play before you finally create your first show-worthy truck. It goes without saying that the build quality must be high and there should be lots of evidence of your personal innovations. And, the best trucks always have a central theme that blends all the changes into a unifying whole. Gary Fuller, a retired Tennessee firefighter from Knoxville, considered several ideas for his latest truck, including the firefighter theme.
With two previous frame-off restorations to his credit, Gary wanted something genuinely personal for his latest project - the 1955 F-100 you see here. That's when the light came on! Since his ancestry includes Native Americans, why not have the theme celebrate his Indian heritage?
Gary has been a regular at the F-100 Supernationals since 2007, and in 2010 that's where he found his next project vehicle. The owner explained that the old '55 had been kept in a barn in Clinton, Tennessee, for more than 30 years. Gary found lots of usable parts as he disassembled the truck, retaining the cab, but opting for new fenders, running boards, and a new all-steel bed, ordered from Midwest Early Ford.
Handling in the curves and managing the new power both required a stronger chassis, so Gary began the modernization process by boxing the framerails, then added a host of aftermarket suspension upgrades. The Heidts Superride II independent front suspension with adjustable coilovers and springs went in first, along with Heidts 3-inch drop spindles.
In the rear, a Heidts four-bar with a second pair of adjustable coilovers and springs hold the new Moser 9-inch rear, fitted with 3.73 gears. All four wheels use modern Wilwood 11-inch disk brakes with polished calipers. Wheel choice is always critical and Gary ensured that all-important, positive first impression with a set of classic, five-spoke, 18-inch Boss chrome rims, fitted with Nexen N3000 245/45-ZR18 rubber.
With "cool" established, "quick" was next, and Gary chose a blueprinted 302 V-8, guaranteed to get the old Ford up and running. On top, an Edelbrock polished aluminum intake and Edelbrock EnduraShine 600-cfm four-barrel carburetor make sure the engine is well fed. The list of upgrades includes Ford E7TE cast-iron heads, 9.6:1 pistons, a mild roller cam, HEI distributor, and Patriot ceramic-coated headers that feed a pair of Super 44 Flowmasters. Built by Blueprint Engineering in Kearney, Nebraska, the motor sends approximately 320 hp to the Ford AOD four-speed automatic, set at an 1,800-rpm stall speed, and upgraded with a Lokar shifter. Performance Automatic in Gaithersburg, Maryland, did the trans work.
Once all the powertrain elements were in place, fitting the body was next. After smoothing the ripples in the half-century-old cab, Gary added the new fenders, running boards, and bed. Halogen headlights with LED parking lights and taillights upgraded the illumination. New stainless steel bumpers and chrome side mirrors add a little sparkle to the exterior, while smoked glass provided a measure of privacy.
The bed was fitted with oak slats separated by stainless steel strips and, with a few last-minute tweaks, the primered truck was rolled into Gary's temporary paint booth, complete with fans and filters in his garage. Gary did the paintwork himself, spraying three basecoats of BASF Victory Red with three coats of clear for that foot-deep shine. It was at this point that elements of the Indian theme began to appear.
Gary and his wife Rose have always been intrigued with the Native American culture, and since there is Indian in his lineage, it was a natural choice that provided some unexpected benefits. The theme struck a chord with Gary's firefighter friend Mickey Harrison, who just happens to be a nationally recognized airbrush artist with Cherokee in his lineage. After spraying the hood and tailgate, Gary wet sanded both, turned them over to Harris for the Native American-themed murals, then Fuller completed the job by shooting five coats of clear over the artwork.
The connection continued with interior expert, Cecil Risden, another good firefighter friend who is also part Cherokee. Gary purchased the seats from Tea's Design, new but uncovered. Risden created the pattern and stitched the red and tan fabric with the red - a perfect match with the exterior. Tan headliner, carpet, and red and tan door panels completed the tasteful combination. Gary followed up, adding a custom center console for the new Lokar shifter, then smoothing the dash and installing a full complement of Auto Meter Gold gauges. Power windows and a Sony DVD player with Pioneer speakers wrap up the interior additions.
Gary smiles as he explains how everyone really enjoyed the connection, with the build becoming a testament to the Indian spirit. Even his 10-year-old granddaughter, Elizabeth got involved, adding one of her favorite dream catchers to the rearview mirror. Rose came up with a name for the truck, "Red Man," and Gary says it fits perfectly. With the exception of the interior and murals, Gary is proud to say that he did all the work himself, over a two-year period. He is also proud of how the choice of themes brought several good friends together, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
"Gary smiles as he explains how everyone really enjoyed the connection, with the build becoming a testament to the Indian spirit. Even his 10-year-old granddaughter, Elizabeth got involved, adding one of her favorite dream catchers to the rearview mirror."
Gary and Rose Fuller
Frame: stock with modifications
Modifications: boxed frame
Rearend/Ratio: Moser 9-inch / 3.73 gears
Brakes: Wilwood 11-inch, four-wheel disC brakes with polished calipers
Rear Suspension: Heidts four-bar with adjustable coilovers
Front Suspension: Heidts Superride II IFS with adjustable coilovers and 3-inch drop Heidts spindles
Steering: Heidts rack-and-pinion
Front Wheels: Boss chromed aluminum 18-inch
Rear Wheels: Boss chromed aluminum 18-inch
Front Tires: Nexen N3000 245/45-ZR18
Rear Tires: Nexen N3000 245/45-ZR18
Gas Tank: 19-gallon tank mounted under the cab with custom filler cap
Engine: 302 Ford V-8 bored .40 over
Heads: Ford E7TE
Valve covers: finned aluminum
Manifold/Induction: Polished aluminum Edelbrock intake / Edelbrock EnduraShine 600-cfm carburetor
Ignition: HEI distributor
Headers: Patriot ceramic-coated 21/2 inches
Exhaust/Mufflers: 21/4-inch exhaust / Super 44 Flowmasters
Transmission: Ford AOD four-speed automatic with 1,800 stall speed
Fenders: Midwest Early Ford
Hood: smoothed with Native American mural
Grille: factory painted to match
Bed: Midwest Early Ford; oak planks and stainless steel strips
Bodywork and Paint By: owner
Paint Type/Color: BASF / Victory Red
Headlights/Taillights: Halogen headlights / LED parking lights and taillights
Outside Mirrors: chrome
Bumpers: stainless steel
Dashboard: smoothed and painted to match the exterior
Gauges: Auto Meter white face
Air-conditioning: not yet
Stereo: Sony DVD player with a pair of Pioneer speakers
Steering Wheel: Lecarra
Steering Column: ididit
Seats: Tea's Design
Upholstery By: Cecil Risden, Heiskel, TN
Material/Color: red and tan fabric