00 heavily modified TCI chassis
Every project needs a foundation, and this heavily modified TCI chassis will definitely be up to the task.

The TCI chassis, Cab Floor & Firewall

By Ron Covell – Photography by the Author, Michael Christensen & Gary George

Gary George, who runs Gary’s Rods and Restorations in Northern California, has a long history of building outstanding vehicles. He was recently approached by Jason Souza to build a showstopping ’56 Ford F100. This will be a “no-holds-barred” project, but they want the truck to have an elegant and refined character rather than going for shock value. Look for future articles that will include sectioning the cowl and the hood, moving the wheel well openings in the front fenders, and scratch building a new bed that matches the shape of the cab.

01 Ford-boss-572-fitted-with-jon-kaase-injection
The engine is a Ford Boss 572 fitted with Jon Kaase injection and accessories. It will definitely provide plenty of power!

Careful thought went into laying the foundation of the project. The Total Cost Involved chassis has been extensively modified by Dave McIntyre, George’s chassis guru. He moved the front crossmember forward 4½ inches, built new front and rear frame rails, and made a beefy X-member to further stiffen the frame. He extensively modified the Art Morrison Enterprises independent rear end to allow the truck to be dropped to the ground. Mittler Bros.’ Hydroshox suspension units are used on all four corners, allowing the truck to be radically lowered for shows and then quickly raised to the desired ride height.

Read More: 1954 Ford F-100 G-Comp Independent Front Suspension Upgrade

02 Mocking up new firewall 56 F100
The first step for modifying the cab was mocking up the new firewall with chipboard.

McIntyre also built an outstanding custom exhaust system and included a custom-fitted set of headers that feed into the Vibrant Performance mufflers and then into gorgeous 2×4-inch oval stainless tailpipes that gracefully snake through the confines of the frame.

The engine is a Ford Boss 572, fitted with Jon Kaase stack injectors and accessories, backed by a Hughes Performance built 4L85E transmission.

03 Ford Boss 572 fitted with Jon Kaase injection
A new radiator core support and new inner fender panels will be made, too. We will cover these in a future installment.

To start the project, George had all the sheet metal panels stripped and powder coated. This ensures that all the nooks and crannies are protected from rusting, inside and out, and will provide a stable foundation for the extensive body modifications to come.

Emilio Belmonte is George’s sheet metal expert. After the chassis work was completed one of his first tasks was to make a new firewall and floor for the cab. He used a chip board to mock up the firewall, getting a close fit to the bellhousing but allowing adequate room for the powerful V8 engine to flex on its mounts. There will be raised panels formed on the firewall, inner fender panels, and inner bed panels to provide stiffness and style. Belmonte uses a Pullmax machine to form these panels, as you’ll see in the photos.

04 strong tubing framework for the 56 Ford F100
The front sheet metal was tied together with a strong tubing framework, and the assembly was removed from the truck.

Read More: WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING: 1956 FORD F-100

Once the design and patterns for the new firewall were completed, the original firewall was removed. This provided the perfect opportunity to install bracing for the Kugel Komponents pedal system, and to get the pedals and master cylinder properly located and mounted. This job is so much easier with the firewall out of the way.

The photos will show the “intimate details” of how this work was done, and you can look for more articles on each of the major body modifications to come. Hang on for the ride–not only will this be an outstanding truck, it could very well give you some ideas for your personal projects!

05 The Boss 572 engine clears nicely
Next, the old firewall was cut away.
06 Kugel Komponents pedal assembly gets installed next
This provided the perfect opportunity to construct the bracing for the Kugel Komponents pedal assembly and to get the air conditioner unit properly located and mounted.
07 reinforcement was added to the pedal assembly
Extra reinforcement was added to stiffen the pedal assembly and steering column.
08 Gary_s Rods and Restoration handled the major modifications
An extension was added to the lower cab panel to meet the new firewall.
09 A pullmax machine was used for the F100 firewall
A Pullmax machine with special step tooling was used to form the raised details in the firewall panels.
10 A MDF pattern temporarily fastened to the metal
The panel is guided by an MDF pattern temporarily fastened to the metal. This pattern is held tightly against the dies as the panel is moved through the reciprocating dies.
11 The new firewall is met to the rest of the chassis
The edges of the new firewall side were properly contoured and fitted into place for tack welding.
12 The outer firewall on the F100 are ready
Both outer firewall panels are installed and are being smoothed and adjusted.
13 The new inner F100 firewall is ready to be installed
Here is the inner firewall panel, nearly ready to be joined to the outer firewall.
14 The center section of the firewall is nearly ready
The transmission tunnel was fitted at this time.
15 The F100 cab was removed to tack the firewall in place
The cab was removed from the chassis and tipped upright to ease the fitting of the new floor panels.
16 The new F100 floor panel is ready for paint
Here are the floor panels, smoothed and ready to be primed.
17 The firewall metal work is pristine
Here’s the firewall after the final smoothing. As you can see, the metalwork is superb.
18 The firewall is primed and ready for paint
The firewall was sealed with primer, inside and out, to prevent rusting as the build progressed.
19 The Ford firewall is prepped for the Boss 572 engine
Here’s the face of the finished firewall. It will provide a perfect backdrop for the powerful engine.

Sources
Gary’s Rods & Restorations
(831) 728-7025
garysrods.com

Art Morrison Enterprises
(800) 929-7188
artmorrison.com

Mitttler Bros. (Hydroshox)
(800) 467-2464
mittlerbros.com

Total Cost Involved
(800) 984-6259
totalcostinvolved.com

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