Riz, I am really enjoying my subscription. I worked as a technical editor for Mitchell Manuals back in the early ’70s so I think I am qualified to comment that you are doing a great job.
I have a 1953 F-100 that I restored to original, back in 1985, but now that I am getting older I want my truck (daily driver) to sit better, handle better, and ride better. While I sincerely appreciate the articles you are writing I would like to see you address the reality of mixing different suspensions, steering, engines, and transmissions. I want my truck to handle well and not tire me out when I drive from Ventura, CA, to Monterey, CA, to see the antique auto races (have gone for 33 years). So basically I would like to hear more about the decision making in deciding what type of modern modifications. I know I am not the only one who feels lost in the midst of all the choices. As an example, I would like to put in a 302 (Ford crate) and a five-speed Tremec transmission; but I don’t have a clue as to what changes to make to the rear end (gears and suspension). Help all of us please. Thank you.
Hi Jim, First of all thanks for the kind words. Your ideas for updating your F-100 sound great. There’s lots of options, which as you stated, can be both a help and/or a hindrance. Me, I like keeping things simple—mainly cuz I’m a simpleton at heart. So here’s what I’d do if I were in your shoes. First I’d opt for a straightforward M-II-type frontend conversion. That’ll give you the advantages of rack-and-pinion steering and the addition of front disc brakes (plus it’ll lower the front end for better looks and a lower center of gravity). Out back I’d stick with a parallel leaf system with new lowering springs (again improving the truck’s stance and improving ride quality). Your SBF swap is on the money and Ford Racing’s 6007-X302 is a great crate engine I think you should consider. A T-5 five-speed backing the small-block is a good choice too. They’re affordable, plentiful, and come with a good selection of final drive ratios (anywhere from 0.63 to 0.8). When making that decision I’d opt to take advantage of a Tremec dealer’s tech experts to guide me in choosing a rearend ratio though. Speaking of rearends an 8-inch Ford is perfect for a driver and will hold up to the horsepower and torque of a SBF powerplant. All of the upgrade components I’ve mentioned are available from multiple sources and in lots of variations as well, that’s where the confusion often arises. In my opinion just about everything on the market is good quality—just stick to brand names you’re familiar with and check out the wares of just a couple companies in each category—and make your decision. Don’t confuse yourself by looking at countless brand names for each or you’ll just drive yourself nuts. Well, that’s my two cents worth—I hope it’s of some help. RIZ