How Roadster Shop Improved The 1953-1955 F100 Chassis

How Subtle Yet Significant Changes Make All The Difference

By Ron Ceridono – Photography courtesy of Roadster Shop

Roadster Shop, located Mundelein, Illinois, has a long and storied history. Originally located in Elgin, Illinois, and founded by Bill O’Rourke in 1982, the shop’s focus was on traditional hot rods as the name implied. Unfortunately, O’Rourke died in 2004 and Jeremy Gerber, who worked at Roadster Shop, his brother Phil and father Neal bought the business. This was about the time that the automotive enthusiast was growing and Roadster Shop was set to grow with it.

02 The foundation for the F100 is a Roadster Shop chassis
The foundation for the F100 is a Roadster Shop chassis with their independent front suspension and independent rear suspension systems and a wheelbase that is 6 inches longer than stock.
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Under the Gerbers’ guidance, Roadster Shop began turning out an astonishing array of vehicles, including traditional hot rods, classic trucks, Tri-Five Chevys, muscle cars, and just about anything with wheels. But while the vehicles varied the one thing they all had in common was fanatical attention to detail.

Read More: A Clean Slate C10 Chassis

Today Roadster Shop can take a project from concept to completion under one roof. Along with producing custom chassis and suspension components in their 30,000-square-foot facility there are areas dedicated to metal fabrication, vehicle construction, paint- and body work, along with a full mechanical department for assembly of turn key vehicles as well as customer vehicle servicing and component installation. In addition, capabilities like 3D printing allow the creation of one-off components.

03 In stock form the F100 front wheels are aft of center in the wheel wells
In stock form the F100 front wheels are aft of center in the wheel wells. Also note location in the fender relative to the front of the fender.
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The Roadster Shop team is known for their ability to incorporate innovative design features that are so well integrated it takes a keen eye to pick them out. A case in point is the 1955 Ford F100 shown here. Based on a Ride Line chassis with independent front suspension and independent rear suspension, the wheelbase has been stretched to 116.75 inches (stock is 110 inches). Up front the tires will be 245/50R18 (27.6 inches overall diameter) on 18×7.5 wheels with 5-inch backspacing. In the rear 255/55R18 tires (29 inches overall diameter) will be mounted on 18×8 wheels with 5-inch backspacing.

To accommodate the increased wheelbase, and to center the front wheels in the fenders, the wheel arches were cut loose and moved forward. The stock lips around the openings were retained and the area behind the wheel wells were filled in with 16-gauge sheet metal. This subtle yet significant change gave the Ford truck a more balanced profile—it’s one of those modifications that just looks right.

04 Part of the design process was to consider interior space and ergonomics
Part of the design process was to consider interior space and ergonomics. To provide more passenger legroom the firewall was moved forward 4 inches.

Another change to the cab was the repositioning of the firewall. But rather than moving it back as is often done, in this case it was moved forward. To provide additional passenger compartment legroom and accommodate under dash pedal assemblies, the engine and transmission were moved forward as far as was practical and the new firewall was moved forward 4 inches.

Watch More: 1966 Impala SS Packs 850hp LSA Punch & Roadster Shop Chassis

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More thinking outside the box, or in this case under the pickup box, are compartments below the bed floor. Hinged sections provide access to the storage compartments and a spare tire carried in space that is often unused.

05 The Independent Front Suspension provides plenty of room even for an engine as large as a Ford Coyote engine
Here the cab is mounted to the new frame rails. The Independent Front Suspension provides plenty of room even for an engine as large as a Ford Coyote engine. Backing up the engine is an automatic 6R80 transmission.

Take a look at the following photos as food for thought. They just go to prove that some of the most subtle modifications are often the most effective.

06 Moving the engine and transmission as far forward in the Roadster chassis as possible
Moving the engine and transmission as far forward in the Roadster chassis as possible allowed the firewall to be moved forward as well.
07 Shown here is the initial fabrication of the new firewall
Shown here is the initial fabrication of the new firewall. It fits under the factory seam across the top and inside the firewall flanges on the sides.
08 the new firewall to the inner fender panel flanges on the body
On each side pieces were formed to attach the new firewall to the inner fender panel flanges on the body.
09 Here a reinforced area has been added to mount the firewall-mounted brake booster and master cylinder
Here a reinforced area has been added to mount the firewall-mounted brake booster and master cylinder, a recess has been added for the bellhousing/transmission tunnel, and holes have been added for the heater and AC hoses.
10 Roadster shop_s custom components like billet aluminum hood hinge
Roadster Shop’s ability to design, model, and produce parts allows them to produce custom components like billet aluminum hood hinges.
11 A custom radiator core support ties the front fenders together
A custom radiator core support ties the front fenders together and mounts a unique pair of hood latches.
12 the F100 front fenders were modified by cutting out the factory wheel openings
To accommodate the lengthened wheelbase, the front fenders were modified by cutting out the factory wheel openings.
13 To maintain the proper shape of the removed sections
To maintain the proper shape of the removed sections, temporary supports were tack-welded in place.
14 Careful trimming allowed the wheel openings to be moved forward
Careful trimming allowed the wheel openings to be moved forward on the fender and clamped in place.
15 At the rear of the fender openings filler panels made from 16-gauge steel
At the rear of the fender openings filler panels made from 16-gauge steel were added to close the gaps.
16 Thanks to exquisite metalwork the fender modifications are impossible to detect
Thanks to exquisite metalwork the fender modifications are impossible to detect.
17 The large open area behind the Independent Rear Suspension center section will accommodate the fuel tank
The large open area behind the Independent Rear Suspension center section will accommodate the fuel tank. While that’s not unusual, there will be some unique features that aren’t as common.
18 A custom fuel tank fits between the frame rails
A custom fuel tank fits between the frame rails and will be filled from a cap on the outside of the bed. Note how far the fuel tank is below the bed floor.
19 The bed floor is made up of two hinged sections
The bed floor is made up of two hinged sections. This portion is toward the front of the bed. Note the crossmembers in the lid that add strength.
20 Below the hinged forward section of the floor are two storage compartments
Below the hinged forward section of the floor are two storage compartments; space that is generally unused. Note the gas struts that help lift the floor for access.
21 Here the wheel tubs that were added to the bedsides for tire clearance can be seen
Here the wheel tubs that were added to the bedsides for tire clearance can be seen.
22 When closed, custom quarter-turn latches secure the lids
When closed, custom quarter-turn latches secure the lids.
23 To accommodate the storage compartments the bed floor is raised slightly
The rear section of the bed floor is also hinged. To accommodate the storage compartments the bed floor is raised slightly.
24 This custom tray fits above the fuel tank
This custom tray fits above the fuel tank and provides another storage space and a place for a spare tire (note the recess that provides the necessary underfloor clearance).
25 Here the storage compartment_spare tire carrier is in place
Here the storage compartment/spare tire carrier is in place. It fits directly above the fuel tank and snugly between the rear frame rails.
26 When the lids are closed the stainless steel rub strips overlap the adjacent wood planks
When the lids are closed the stainless steel rub strips overlap the adjacent wood planks hiding the openings.
27 In each corner of the bed are recessed cargo tie-downs of the F100
In each corner of the bed are recessed cargo tie-downs. The removable rings fit into machined aluminum receptacles attached to the custom truck bed floor.

Source
Roadster Shop
(847) 949-7637
roadstershop.com

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