Greg Klima’s Homebuilt Coyote-Swapped ’54 F-100

By Scotty Lachenauer   –   Photography by the Author

Many true hot rodders state that “built” is better than “bought.” Adding one’s own touches to a bedded muscle machine through his/her own vision, hard work, and dedication to a final product truly brings out the best in our hobby. Whether your concept hits a home run with the public or not is not the ultimate goal; making your own dream a reality is the definitive objective here, my friends!

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02 Custom lowered 1954 Ford F100 olive green front angle view

Read More: The History Behind Pat Ganahl & His Iconic 1956 Ford F100

So, when Greg Klima, of Philmont, New York, finally decided that it was the right time to put some “free time” aside to build on a truck idea that had been taking up space in his cranium the past 20-odd years, he knew that he was going to design the truck that he wanted, his own way, and without any pre-derived conception of what the truck should look like, sound like, or behave like. “I was dead set on my concept from day one. Nothing was going to derail me from building the truck the way I wanted it.”

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03 Custom 1954 Ford F100 with modern headlights frontal view

After almost two decades without a project ride, Greg was now ready to get it going. “I grew up building Volkswagens, which was a car I always admired as a kid. When I got older, I wanted more power, and thought the Fox-body Mustangs were the baddest rides out there. Now that I’m a little bit older and have built a home for my expanding family, I wanted something different: A ride with muscular good looks and plenty of power. I’d always loved the second-generation Ford F-100, so I decided that model would be my next project ride.”

Greg searched the New York countryside looking for a good starting point for his new hot rod. However, he ended up finding what he was looking for a little bit farther out of his area, in New Hampshire. “Well, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I mean it was a ’54 F-100, which was the model I craved, but this one was rough, and all the parts were stashed in boxes. A lot of boxes! But I knew with my mechanical background I could make it all come together, so I made a deal for it anyway.”

05 Rear side view of a customized olive green 1954 Ford F100

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Box Tops

What Greg got for his cash was a usable cab, hood, frame, and rear fenders. Some of the parts were salvageable, but the rest were pretty much junk. What was considered “usable” still needed some work. Even though Greg knew there was a ton of work ahead to achieve his goal, he wasn’t fazed by any of this. “When I graduated high school, I attended Votec and excelled in the automotive program. I’ve won awards in automotive troubleshooting and I made a career as a mechanic before I changed professions. I decided I just wanted to do mechanical work on my own projects. So now I knew I was ready to take this on.”

Confidently, Greg moved forward on the truck’s sheetmetal mess. The cab was completely rotted out on the bottom and needed serious attention. He went ahead and replaced all the rusty sheetmetal on the cab and created a new floor. Next, he bought new doors and running boards to get the F-100’s cockpit moving in the right direction. The fenders were next on the list. They needed extensive metalshaping to get them back into original condition.

08 Engine bay of a 1954 Ford F100 showing modern upgrades

Read More: Extended Cab ’56 Ford Fits Tasso Romnio Just Right

Once the cab was organized, Greg turned his attention to the frame. “I decided to modify the stock frame. I boxed it for strength and added a Mustang II frontend to give me the rack and the ride that I wanted. I added Volvo electric power steering as well because of the many upsides of this system over hydraulic.” Out back Greg installed a parallel four-link along with a 9-inch Ford rear, built with a Currie Truetrac with 3.70 gears. To complete the suspension upgrades, Greg decided to install a Ridetech E5 Shockwave system at the corners to help keep this Ford down low and cuttin’ weeds along the way.

As the cab and frame were moving along, he now set his sights on the bed. “I didn’t have a usable bed, so I ordered a brand-new one from Mar-K. That saved a lot of time trying to resurrect a rusty one.” So, once the body was complete and smoothed to perfection, the truck was basted in a modern Toyota color, 6V7 Army Green, which gives the truck a rugged, bulletproof look. “I immediately fell in love with the color when Toyota came out with it. You could only order it on a Toyota Tundra Pro. I didn’t want that model but ordered it anyway. When it came in, I passed on it and got a Platinum. I decided to use the color on my custom truck instead.”

10 Close up of the custom wheel and brake of a 1954 Ford F100

Power Surge

Now it was time to choose the motorvation for this here Blue Oval machine. “That was an easy decision. I knew I wanted a modern drivetrain and the Gen 2 Coyote was the way to go.” Greg sourced a low-mileage mill along with its MT82 transmission from a ’17 Mustang and dropped it right in. Bosch ID 1050 injectors were installed, along with a complete Aeroflow fuel system to give this powerplant the go juice it needs.

Of course, Greg wasn’t just looking for some power; he was looking to seriously extend the power curve of his Coyote, so a Stage 2 Whipple Supercharger was ordered up for good measure. “I bought the Whipple during COVID-19 and had to wait five months to get it. It was worth the wait.” Once his drivetrain was complete, Greg had Lund Racing perform the initial tuning of the mill to maximize output. “When we finish the final tuning later this year, I expect this setup to be good for 900 to 1,000 hp.”

12 Interior view of 1954 Ford F100 with black leather seats and green belts

When it came to the interior, at this point Greg did not cut corners. “The roof and walls are upholstered in Relicate black leather. I handled all that work, along with the carpet.” The seat was sourced from Snowden Custom Seats. It comes completely finish-upholstered to your liking. The doors are bead rolled aluminum panels, sourced from Misfit Fab out of Dexter, Kentucky. To keep this beast pointed in the right direction an ididit column is twisted by a JEGS billet steering wheel. A FormaCar MT82 shifter conversion kit was used to help the Hurst bench seat–style shifter work with the new transmission. Lastly, a Dakota Digital dash cluster keeps track of the vitals on this burly Blue Oval ride.

13 Modernized dashboard gauges in a 1954 Ford F100 illuminated

Read More: BBT Fabrications Built 1956 F100

As the truck came together, Greg pondered some important questions. What about brakes, rims, and skins? “I went with big 14-inch Wilwood rotors all around. Then I installed six-piston calipers up front, with four-piston pinchers in the back along with an electric parking brake setup.” For wheels and tires, Greg knew he had to go big or go home, so he ordered up a set of massive Official Pro Wheels that were custom milled for the truck. The Ford received 20×9 fronts and big ol’ 22x12s out back. They are shod in LX-Twenty rubber: 255/35-20 and 305/35-22, respectively.

Other choice add-ons include an exhaust system built up of BBK long-tube headers, a handmade 3-inch stainless exhaust, and Flowmaster FlowFX mufflers. The final example of Greg’s handywork can be seen in the bed out back. “I sourced some Red Oak planks from my local sawmill, which I routed and fit outback. I hand rubbed in some black stain and finished them off in some PPG matte clear. It works well with the body color.”

04 Lowered 1954 Ford F100 side view against a red brick building


After completing the truck, Greg took it on a series of shakedown runs to get it all straight. “It’s been a long road, 10 years of work, slowly and steadily coming together. When I take it out it literally feels like the front tires are going to come off the ground when throttling between Third and Fourth gears. This truck is an absolute rocket! The electric power steering is smooth as glass. The truck overall is a beast and it drives amazing, like a modern vehicle, but you can still tell it’s a ’54 Ford.”

Any foreseeable changes on the horizon for this F-100? “The only real change I want to make is to the fuel system. I want to maximize performance from the setup I have but keep it reliable. I’ve ironed out a few of the issues already and my family and I couldn’t be prouder of what I created.”

14 Custom black interior and dashboard of 1954 Ford F100 with quilted seats

As far as thanks go, Greg has one person in particular he wants to give thanks to: “That person is my wife, Morgan. She’s given up a lot of time with me and has looked the other way when she saw what I paid for some of this stuff! But the best part is now we get to enjoy it as a family. It’s my family’s pride and joy.”

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Greg Klima’s Homebuilt Coyote-Swapped ’54 F-100.ctp march 2024

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