Center the Wheel Wells On Souza’s 1956 Ford F100.
By Ron Covell – Photography by the Author, Michael Christensen, and Gary George
The crew at Gary’s Rods and Restorations has been working diligently on Jason Souza’s 1956 Ford F100. The most recent work has been on the front fenders. For reasons that are unclear, these trucks were designed with the wheel well opening far off the center of the fender, pushed back close to the back edge.
More On This Build: No-Holds-Barred 1956 F100
It’s a fair amount of custom bodywork to move a wheel well, but Jason thought the work would be justified, and we think you will agree when you see the finished product. Knowing this change was coming, the new front suspension was located on the truck’s frame so the wheels could be centered in the fenders.
One of the first steps in modifying the fenders was laying out the cuts for the original wheel well, with the goal of placing the joints in places where the edges would fit together reasonably well in their new location. With the original wheel well cut out, it was centered on the wheel and checked visually to make sure it looked good from all angles. It was raised about an inch and a couple of “nips and tucks” were required to get the proportions just right.
Once all the fitting and adjusting was completed, a filler piece was welded to the back edge of the wheel well and metalfinished. Then the assembly was positioned on the fender and the edge of each joint was scribed and trimmed. The joints were then tack welded together, using a butted joint. After working the joints lightly with a hammer and dolly, the joints were TIG welded and metalfinished.
More On This Build: Subtle Modifications On A 1956 Ford F100
One of the challenges with custom bodywork like this is getting both sides to match—you just can’t get sufficient accuracy with a tape measure. Emilio Belmonte, Gary’s chief sheet metal technician, devised an MDF fixture that ensured symmetry with both wheel wells and then precisely located them at the correct height on both sides of the truck. It’s little details like this that really help to maintain a high level of consistency with custom bodywork of this nature.
The photos show each step in detail. Look forward to many more articles on this exciting 1956 Ford F-100 project.
Gary’s Rods & Restorations