Steve Bloom’s Ridler Show 1955 Ford F-100
By Chuck Vranas – Photography by the Author
Taking on the full build of any classic truck is a journey, allowing each owner to establish a game plan of priorities to follow as they get started. Regardless of whether it’s a home build or one involving concept designs and a pro shop, it’s one best taken on with plenty of research done and enough insight to try and set a timeline to accomplish each particular step.
Now, imagine setting the particular goal of competing for the coveted Don Ridler Memorial Award at the Detroit Autorama to showcase the debut of your build and you’ve just raised the bar to the highest level in the custom car world.
It’s a feat that demands an incredible amount of perseverance when trying to reach the goal, especially if you’re determined to do it in only 300 days. Steve Bloom of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, met that objective, creating the alluring 1955 Ford F-100 laid out across our pages and, of course, there’s an amazing story to tell.
Growing up in Toronto, Steve’s roots started as a teen in high school, spinning wrenches at a local gas station while honing his skills. Coupled with plenty of time spent at Sunset Speedway in Toronto he was able to watch his hot rod heroes take on the quarter-mile in a haze of nitro-fueled thunder. Continuing down the performance path led him through a number of vintage Corvette restorations as well and ownership of several European exotics. As time passed he was consumed by vintage Fords from 1932-1934, crafting a number of award-winning hop-ups packed with unique design elements and personal style, making them truly memorable.
With a longtime passion for classic trucks, it was only a matter of time before Steve and his wife, Michele, commenced the search for a ’50s Ford truck to act as the base of the next project at their shop, Great North Hot Rods in Toronto.
It’s no secret that searching out vintage steel is quite a task, especially if the main focus of your quest is to source a clean rust-free example. Having completed all attempts at sourcing a solid base in their region, they expanded the search to the Web. Eventually, an eBay auction caught their attention by a seller offering what appeared to be a clean 1955 Ford F-100 for sale in Florida. The hauler was presented as a rust-free roller with relatively new front sheetmetal, making it a perfect base to start with. Swapping cash for keys, the deal was made and they anxiously awaited its delivery.
Well, we all know the term “buyer beware” and what had been represented by the seller as a rust-free project turned out to be a train wreck once it was delivered and rolled off the trailer. Regardless of the situation, Steve forged ahead to see what might be saved. His investigation proved that the only thing salvageable would be the stripped-out cab. With the cab now sitting in the shop, he set out to establish a game plane along with Michele and good friend Tony DeLuca, keeping in mind his goal of pursuing the Ridler in a mere 300 days. His plan fused an equal amount of elegance with that of custom fabrication, a lowered stance, and performance upgrades to make it a standout.
For a highly detailed base, he contacted Total Cost Involved Engineering to fabricate a custom chassis incorporating the ability to lay the running boards on the ground. Starting with 2×8-inch rectangular steel rails it was tied together with heavy-duty crossmembers combined with a 6-inch rear kick, C-notch, and shaved front frame horns along with lowered front suspension and engine mounting points. Out back, a Currie 9-inch rear packs 3.70 gears with matching 31-spline axles. It’s suspended in place by a polished stainless four-link combined with Panhard bar, anti-roll bar, and RideTech ShockWave ’bags.
For razor-sharp handling, a TCI Engineering IFS features polished stainless upper and lower control arms matched to their exclusive dropped spindles, anti-roll bar, and RideTech ShockWave ’bags to set the stance. Of course everything was smoothed, plated, polished, and detailed to the highest level to prepare it for judging. When it’s time to drop anchor, a Corvette dual master pushes fluid through stainless lines to Wilwood 12-inch slotted-and-drilled rotors wearing polished 4 piston brake calipers at each corner. Linking it to the street you’ll find alluring Billet Specialties 20-inch SLG45-Series wheels wearing low-profile Nitto Invo-Series tires
There’s nothing like keeping a Ford in a Ford when it comes time to adding the heat. To deliver the goods Steve contacted well-known drag racer and engine builder Tony Pontieri of Pontieri’s Hot Rod Garage in Bolton, Ontario, to build a wicked 347ci stroker small block Ford. Pontieri massaged a 1994 Ford 302 block to perfection and packed it with an Eagle crank linked to matching I-beam rods topped by Keith Black slugs while a Comp Cams Magnum stick sets the beat. Up top, a set of Air Flow Research aluminum heads generate seamless power, especially when matched to an Edelbrock dual-quad intake sucking down the goods through a pair of Edelbrock Thunder Series AVS 500-cfm carbs.
Check Out: Purpose (re)Built: Derek Brown’s 1967 F-100
An MSD ignition lights the fire with spent gases flowing through Ford Performance headers to a custom 2 ½-inch polished stainless exhaust with Summit Racing polished stainless mufflers. Plenty of cool updates include Edelbrock Classic-Series valve covers and air cleaner, March Performance Style Track serpentine system, and plenty of complimenting detail, plating, and polish. A Ford AOD transmission tweaked by Pontieri moves the goods to a custom driveshaft by Inland Empire Driveline.
With the cab shell ready for attention, Steve contacted Stony Smith at Oddball Kustoms in Uxbridge, Ontario, to reach deep into his bag of magic and get busy on a myriad of updates. Starting at the top, he zipped 2 inches from the lid to pancake the roof, followed by incorporating a large rear window from a 1956 F-100 and continued by shaving the drip rails, door handles, and filling the body vents. All body seams were then filled along with the rear hood corners being rounded, custom inner fender wells were fabricated, along with a custom inner hood and front and rear roll pans.
Moving rearward, Smith extended the bedsides and rear fenders, fabricated custom flat running boards, hidden hinges, and many other updates too numerous to list. With the fabrication complete, Joe Tassone at Deez Rodz and Ridez in Uxbridge, metal finished everything and set the final gaps.
When taking on a build of this magnitude it’s imperative that it all translates perfectly when it comes time to laying out the color choices. To create the defining signature of the truck, Michele got busy blending just the right combination of Glasurit golds and greens, coming up with a tone she labeled “Michele’s Gold.” Jesse Rogers at Deez then laid down the vibe, bringing everything to life. During reassembly, Oddball Kustoms added even more class with a set of custom taillights accented by plating from Mayfair Plating of Toronto and just enough white ash in the bed to complete the look.
To bring an equal amount of detail to the interior, the stock dash was shaved and filled with gauges from Dakota Digital to monitor the vitals while cool breezes from Vintage Air flow through custom vents by Jesse Phipps.
A Billet Specialties steering wheel carves the road while shifts move through a 2006 Mustang unit and tunes flow thanks to Mike O’Connor of Newmarket who installed a Planet Audio head unit urged by JL Audio amps and speakers. Oddball Kustoms then fabricated custom door panels along with the center console while the seats are modified 2010 Ford F-150 items. Thanks to the creative efforts of Steve, Tony Deluca, and the stitching talents of Terry Coons of Ajax, Ontario, the interior surfaces were treated to a combination of tan and brown leather complemented by sand-toned Wilton wool carpeting.
As scheduled, the completed truck rolled into Cobo Hall on the 300th day, making itself well known as it competed for the Ridler. Known as “Gertie,” the 55 ford truck pays homage to Steve’s late mother who was always inspirational to him throughout all of his projects. It takes many amazing talents to pull off a project of this magnitude and Steve wants to be sure to thank all involved, especially his wife Michele, Stewart Bloom, and Joe Nazzicone.