Mel and Susan Vaughan are what I would consider the lucky ones. I say that because when I visited their home in Southern California I was in awe of how well they've done for themselves. Talking to Mel about his cars, trucks, hot rods, retirement, and his past career, I learned that this is a man with passion for anything with two or four wheels. Mel was able to earn the things he has by working hard as an electrical engineer. His company designed the electrical plans for shopping centers, superstores, and even a wheel manufacturer with tons of tooling. So to say he was a man of detail would be an understatement.
As I walked onto the side yard I noticed the ground was paved in multi-colored cobblestone that ran the entire length of the yard. The back barn looked more like a firehouse because of the giant roll-up door on one side and on the other was a two-car garage. Entering the back barn I noticed that Mel kept good care of his shop – the floor was clean and the tools were in the toolbox. This is the type of garage that every hot rodder wants to live in, let alone be able to work out of.
Mel has several other vehicles including a 1932 Ford, 1962 Chevy Corvette, and my favorite – a 1962 Chevy Bel Air that shares space with Susan's 1956 Ford F-100. That's right, I said Susan's F-100 because she was tired of Mel always talking about his projects and wanted to have something to call her own. By being involved in the building of the truck she could have fun and spend more time with her hubby.
When Mel got the green light to start the F-100 project he knew just where to look to find one. A business associate of Mel's had a 1956 Ford F-100 that he owned since high school, and he was looking to trade the truck for a Harley. Turned out that Mel had a Harley and offered a straight-up trade, but the man refused the deal at first. Eventually the business associate gave in and traded the truck for the motorcycle and that's when Mel and Susan started.
The truck was cleaned up and sent off to a hot rod shop where it sat for a year while the truck was not progressing. Eventually Mel pulled it out of the shop and moved it to another shop by the name of Bob's Customs and Rods of Ontario, California. Bob's Customs and Rods did tons of work on the truck, including making the frontend clip on a seamless piece that was controlled by an electric actuator. The front fenders were pie cut and moved to better match the wheel profile.
The driprails were removed and the running boards tied back into the fenders for a smoother look. The bolts for the rear fenders were removed and studs welded in place. The rear fenders were also tubbed 3 inches on the inside of the fender to fit the 10-inch rear wheels. A custom roll pan was made to clean up the back. And after all the fresh black paint dried, Mel really wanted the custom door handles installed, so off came the stock handles and the Kindig It new door handles were frenched in.
We asked Mel what he would do differently if given the opportunity? His response was, "Probably nothing; however, it only has 200 miles on it."
1956 Ford F-100
Mel and Susan Vaughan
Rearend / Ratio: Jaguar 3.30 limited slip
Rear suspension: Jaguar
Rear brakes: disc
Front suspension: TCI Engineering IFS
Front brakes: disc
Steering box: rack-and-pinion
Front wheels: Wheel Smith 18x8
Rear wheels: Wheel Smith 18x10
Front tires: Nitto NT555 265x18
Rear tires: Nitto NT555 295x18
Gas tank: stock
Engine: Chevy 350 V-8 220 hp at the rear wheels
Valve covers: Billet Specialties aluminum
Manifold: Edelbrock RPM
Exhaust / Mufflers: custom 3-inch
Modifications: shift kit
Fenders front: modified tilt on remote push-button actuators
Bodywork and paint by: Bob's Customs and Rods
Paint type / Color: PPG / black
Headlights / Taillights: Hagan (frenched) / Sacramento Vintage Ford
Outside mirrors: Sacramento Vintage Ford
Bumpers: stock / Sacramento Vintage Ford
Gauges: stock with speedo redone to reach 120 mph
Air conditioning: Vintage Air
Steering wheel: Mooneyes
Steering column: ididit
Upholstery by: Mark Lopez of Elegance Auto Interiors
Material / Color: leather / brown and black
Carpet: German loop