Barn finds are all the rage today; it seems everyone is talking about finding that great old truck tucked away in someone's backyard or barn. More times than not, the barn find is a piece of vintage tin that has been relegated to storage for many years, and potentially under that deep layer of dust is a good original truck. This truck is a not a barn find, but actually a yard find, and it has a very different story to tell.
Jeff Kuhn is a longtime hot rodder and truck guy, and like all real hot rodders he keeps a keen eye out for prospective projects. During a drive not far from his Illinois home, he spotted an F-100 tucked in behind a house. It was pretty easy to spot with its brilliant yellow paint, and the first thought was, "Wow, someone has a really nice truck." But as time went by the truck never moved, became increasingly covered with oak leaves, and the associated black sap accumulation from the trees. It seemed odd so he stopped in one day to inquire about the truck, but it wasn't for sale. It was a long story, but the 1953 Ford F-100 once belonged to this fellow's uncle, had been in a magazine, and well, we've all heard similar stories.
As is almost always the case, perseverance pays off and after many visits to talk to the owner Kuhn finally convinced him to sell the truck. By now the truck was looking pretty sad and unfortunately the power windows had stopped working years earlier and both windows were in the down position, but there was no denying this was still a very nice truck.
After getting the truck back to his shop the laborious process of carefully cleaning the truck began. Jeff was pleasantly surprised when the paint began to come back to life. The mixing yellow base with Screaming Yellow Pearl in the clear was originally applied by Stowe's Autobody in Lockport, Illinois. Happily there was enough topcoat clear on the truck to allow for the light color sanding and buffing required to remove the etched-in sap stains and other scars.
Saving the paint was a huge step forward; now it was just a matter of freshening the truck mechanically to bring it back to its former glory. The truck rides on a Fatman Fabrications chassis with ECI disc brakes on all four corners and RideTech-supplied airbags front and rear. When it came time to add new rolling stock, Kuhn went with big 20-inch Billet Specialties Bonneville wheels that fill the wheelwells perfectly.
Since the truck was not running when it arrived in the Kuhn garage, a brand-new ZZ4 crate motor was ordered and installed in the spacious engine bay. Street & Performance supplied all the engine dress-up goodies along with the pulleys and brackets for the A/C, alternator, and power steering pump. Hooker headers carry the exhaust through 3-inch Flowmaster mufflers, while a Griffin radiator keeps the small-block cool. Behind the ZZ4 a 700-R4 tranny provides smooth shifts and low cruising rpms.
Inside the cab the complete interior was gutted and replaced with gray leather by Schobert Trim and Upholstery in Sandwich, Illinois. Prior to putting down the new German short-weave carpet, a layer of Dynamat was installed. A Kenwood stereo fills the cabin with tunes, while a Vintage Air Gen II unit manages the climate control, and oh, one more thing, the power windows were repaired.
And so after a year of refurbishing, a once-great truck was once again standing tall. Since bringing the F-100 back to life Jeff and Brenda Kuhn have been enjoying road trips with the truck as well as local cruise nights. We caught up with them at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville where we had the pleasure of hearing this story and photographing their screaming-yellow hauler.
1953 Ford F-100
Jeff and Brenda Kuhn
Frame: Fatman Fabrications
Modifications: RideTech air suspension
Rearend / Ratio: 3:73:1
Rear suspension: Four-bar
Rear brakes: ECI disc
Front brakes: ECI disc
Steering box: Mustang II rack-and-pinioin
Front wheel make, size: Billet Specialties Bonneville 20x8
Rear wheel make, size: Billet Specialties Bonneville 20x10
Front tire make, size: BFG G-Force
Rear tire make, size: BFG-G-Force
Gas tank: Rock Valley stainless steel
Engine: 2012 ZZ4 Crate Motor
Valve covers: Street & Performance
Manifold / Induction: Quick Fuel 625-cfm carburetor
Ignition / Wires: HEI / Taylor
Exhaust / Mufflers: Stainless 3-inch Flowmasters
Transmission: 2009 700-R4
Style: F-100 Stepside
Body mods: Frenched headlights, shaved door handles
Hood: No Limit, shaved
Bodywork: Stowe's Autobody, Lockport, IL
Paint type / Color: 655 Mixing Yellow and Screaming Yellow pearl
Painter: Stowe's Autobody
Graphics: ghost flames by Stowe's Autobody
Headlights / Taillights: Hagan
Bumpers: Rock Valley stainless steel
Other body items: Pro's Pick Bed
Insert / Gauges: No Limit and Auto Meter
Stereo / Speakers: Kenwood
Air conditioning: Vintage Air Gen II
Steering wheel: Billet Specialties
Steering column: ididit
Seats: Rod Doors
Upholsterer: Schobert Trim & Upholstery, Sandwich, IL
Material / Color: gray leather
Carpet: German short weave