Bruce Ross describes himself as a typical 60-ish car guy working in his garage on a budget and reliving the dream. Bruce is retired military currently living in Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up in a car-oriented family and the love of cool custom vehicles started early. Back in his younger days, he enjoyed Camaros, Corvettes, old trucks, and street rods, but raising a family and earning a living has a way of changing your priorities. A couple of decades later, when the timing seemed right, he began looking for a project vehicle and realized some events from his past were definitely influencing the search. His father had a mildly customized F-100 back in the early 1960s and some of Bruce's most cherished childhood memories were times spent cruising in "Ole Blue."
With thoughts of that vintage pickup still in mind, Bruce found just the right vehicle at the 2004 Daytona Turkey Run when he spotted this 1956 F-100 being used as a parts hauler. The truck sat right, the cab was solid, and before long, the truck was in the Ross family garage. Much of the truck's sheetmetal needed work, but it did have a boxed frame and a Volare independent frontend with power steering and disc brakes.
Leaf springs in the rear held a Ford 9-inch fitted with 3.33 gears. Antisway bars front and rear along with Monroe shocks on all four corners ensured modern handling. Under the hood was a Ford 302 V-8 equipped with an Edelbrock high-rise manifold and 600-cfm carb. Ford electronic ignition fired the spark and Ford Motorsports headers dumped spent gases into a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. The Desert Cooler four-core radiator kept everything cool, while the 100-amp Tuff Stuff alternator ensured plenty of electrical power.
After a careful overhaul of the powertrain, Bruce drove the truck for a couple years, making regular upgrades that included a relocated 14-gallon gas tank, wiring, brakes, tilt hood kit, and more. It didn't take long, however, before the truck had so many interesting touches that Bruce decided to go all the way with a full "old skool" makeover. The bed was the first upgrade and the call to Mid Fifty F-100 Parts secured a new one with oak planks, polished stainless strips, tailgate, taillights, and running boards. They also had upgrades for door handles, mirrors, and framehorn covers. Dennis Carpenter had a replacement grille and grille shell.
As each piece was completed, it was primed, blocked, and sanded, then set aside for paint. Once the body was complete, Bruce says, "It took a while to decide on the color, but when a local car club gave away some fuzzy dice at one of their shows, it just clicked." Those iconic 1950s-style accessories hanging from his rear view mirror were a deep shade of red and Bruce knew in a moment that his truck was going to be bright yellow with red interior accents. Once the color scheme was established, he took 15 separate body pieces to Progressive Paint and Body in Jacksonville, Florida to shoot the bright DuPont single stage, special mix yellow. He brought the freshly painted parts home and reassembled the truck using Doc's Kustoms polished stainless bolts throughout.
Next it was off to Ronnie Gray's in Jacksonville, Florida, for upholstery, covering the cab first with Dynamat, then adding lipstick red vinyl to the recontoured original bench seat. Matching Rod Door panels were used for the rear cab wall, kick panels, and unique headliner, now enhanced with a raised V-8 emblem. Enjoying your ride in the Sunshine State requires some creature comforts and the A/C unit from Southern Rods, fitted with an underdash panel from Dan Carpenter, was just the ticket. A Clarion head unit and Pioneer six-CD changer fill the cab with old time rock and roll, while the Dolphin white-faced gauges in an engine-turned panel keep track of underhood activity.
That unique steering column topped with a Juliano's Sprint Car-style wheel is an original Ford-O-Matic unit that fits the "old skool" theme perfectly, especially since it controls a modern AOD trans. The red fuzzy dice that started it all are still hanging from the mirror. With the interior done, many hours went into making the engine room look as detailed as the rest of the truck, using paint, chrome, and polished aluminum upgrades.
While the color choices certainly reinforced the theme, something was still missing. The 15-inch Wheel Vintiques chrome rims with painted centers and 1947 Ford caps were certainly on the right track, but they weren't enough. That's when he realized that dad always had whitewall tires on his vehicles. Bruce had never gone the whitewall route, but after seeing them on a couple of other trucks, he decided it was time and they turned out to be the perfect addition. The 70-series Diamondback wide whites made all the difference and finally the look was complete! Although the truck is just about the way he wanted it, Bruce says there are some long-range plans for upgrading the vintage Ford with a new crate motor and, no doubt, a few more personal touches.
Bruce wants to send a special thanks to dad who got him involved in the sport and, at age 91, is still enjoying the hobby. (Ole Blue is in California where Bruce's brother takes it to local shows). And, of course, Bruce also wants to thank his oh-so-patient wife of 35 years, Kristie who endures his garage time and cruises with him often.
1956 Ford F-100
Bruce and Kristie Ross
Rearend / Ratio: Ford 9-inch / 3.30:1
Brakes: front power discs / rear drums
Rear Suspension: leaf springs with lowered spring perches and reduced spring pack
Front Suspension: Volare IFS
Steering: Volare power steering
Front Wheels: chrome 15x8 Wheel Vintiques rims with painted centers and '47 Ford caps
Rear Wheels: chrome 15x8 Wheel Vintiques rims with painted centers and '47 Ford caps
Front Tires: 215/70R15 Diamondback wide whites
Rear Tires: 255/70R15 Diamondback wide whites
Gas Tank: Doc's Kustom Tanks 14-gallon aluminum mounted under bed
Engine: Ford 302
Valve Covers: chrome with flames
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock high-rise / 600-cfm carb
Ignition: Ford electronic
Exhaust / Mufflers: Flowmasters with side exhausts
Transmission: Ford AOD
Shifter: Vintage Ford column with automatic shift
Modifications: seams filled, SS bolts used throughout, center brake light
Hood: stock hood with tilt kit
Grille: reproduction chrome from Dennis Carpenter
Bed: Mid Fifty F-100 Parts oak planks, SS strips, smooth tailgate, vintage Coca-Cola cooler
Bodywork and Paint by: bodywork by owner, paint by Progressive Paint and Body, Jacksonville, Florida
Paint Type / Color: DuPont Chrome special mix yellow with custom pinstriping
Headlights / Taillights: tri-bar headlights / Mid Fifty F-100 Parts taillights
Outside Mirrors: stock
Bumpers: polished stainless steel
Gauges: Dolphin white face
Air-Conditioning: Southern Rods
Stereo: Clarion head unit and Pioneer six-CD changer
Steering Wheel: Juliano's Sprint Car style
Steering Column: Vintage Ford
Seats: Recontoured stock bench seat in red vinyl
Upholstery By: Ronnie Gray, Jacksonville, FL
Material / Color: red vinyl
Carpet: plush red