The History Behind Pat Ganahl & His Iconic 1956 Ford F100
By Rob Fortier & Bill Ganahl – Photography by Tim Sutton
I’m not an old-timer when it comes to classic trucks, but I have been involved in this great hobby/aftermarket industry for over 30 years, so I have had the distinct honor of rubbing elbows with many of the true old-timers over the past three decades. Since we devote the majority of feature content to the fresh builds (and a lot of the up-and-coming young builders), I felt it only necessary to set aside some precious page space to those who’ve created the foundation on which both the hobby and the aftermarket industry are based today.
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Honoring the Legacy of Pat Ganahl and His ‘56 Ford F100
And who better to kick off our Legacy Series than the late Pat Ganahl and his famous 1956 Ford F100. Pat was without a doubt an inspiration and mentor of mine—his history with Rodder’s Journal, Hot Rod, and the magazine I strived for and eventually took the helm of (before its untimely demise), Rod & Custom, served as my CliffsNotes for “blossoming” into the opinionated editor I’ve become! It’s also been a pleasure watching his son, Bill, blossom into one of the top custom car/hot rod/classic truck builders in the country, and because of his close relationship with his father, I felt it only right that he put the heartfelt words on paper to honor Pat’s legacy of an F100.
Pat Ganahl and His ‘56 Ford F100
“I’ve written about a lot of things in my life, and I think I’m generally pretty good at it, but I don’t even know where to start with this one. This is my dad’s F100; I basically grew up in this truck. My dad owned it for almost 40 years (I’m 45 as I write this). I’ve driven to Fremont towing our Top Fuel dragster in it, I’ve crawled under the dash trying to help my dad find rattles, I’ve steered my dad’s ’48 Chevy behind it while being towed by a rope all the way across town to the muffler shop (true story), and I’ve listened to all of my dad’s mixed tapes on the old tape deck over the course of decades.
“Unfortunately, I have also driven my mom in this truck all the way home from Toutle, Washington, to Hayward, California, while towing the wrecked Ike Iacono dragster that killed my dad. To say that I have mixed feelings about it now would be an understatement. Maybe I’ll tell just a few stories about my dad and this truck and leave it at that.
Memorable Moments with the ‘56 Ford F100
“When we first started running our little Altered T, “The Lowbuck Special,” in the ’80s at the nostalgia drags, Gray Baskerville was around much of the time. My dad had a different favorite color every time you asked, but he definitely liked yellow and he wanted to paint the F100 yellow from the get-go. He got the truck to serve as a ‘shop truck,’ but also to tow and push-start our dragster. I think [Baskerville] might have seen it for the first time at one of these early nostalgia meets and he immediately says to my dad, “That’s not yellow, that’s pussy yellow!” Clearly he thought it was too pale. So, the next time my dad repainted it (which happened a lot), I noticed it was a darker yellow than before. I don’t think he would have ever admitted that [Baskerville] had anything to do with his choice …
Lessons from El Mirage
“My dad took me to El Mirage many times over the years, both to watch the races and to drive my little dune buggy go-kart that we built together—which pretty much means that he built it for me while I watched! One time we went, and it was windy as all hell, and he told me, ‘Watch the door when you open it.’ Well, I know I heard him say it, but as soon as I opened the door the wind whipped the handle right out of my hand and the door swung open. It whipped it so hard it bent the hinges back and let the door slam into the front fender. I thought I was going to get disowned right then and there … but we stayed at the lake all day and the next day he started teaching me how to repair an F100 door that swung open too hard! It’s funny how he might blow up at you over something little but be so understanding about something that seemed life-ending at the time. Dads.
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The New Chapter Begins: Passing the Legacy to Lee Pratt
“I’ll end this with what marks the end of this story and the beginning of a new one. My dad, and now I, became good friends with Lee Pratt. Both of us, like most anyone who knows [Pratt], think he is about the nicest and coolest human being on the face of the planet, not to mention a talented artist and car builder (if you don’t know who he is, Google “Lee Pratt Nomad” or “Buick” or “Impala”). So, [Pratt] told me the other day that he wanted to sell his late-model Chevy Silverado and get an older, cooler parts hauler/shop truck. I talked to my mom and asked her opinion and we both immediately agreed that if my dad would want anyone to have his truck it would be [Pratt]. So, [Pratt] and I made a trade deal and he’s now the new proud owner of my dad’s old F100. Can’t wait to see what new stories and memories it has in store.”
Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Legacy Series: Pat Ganahl’s ‘56 Ford F100.