By Chuck Vranas – Photography by the Author
There’s nothing cooler than looking deep into the design elements of a classic Ford F100 and visualizing how you would modify it with a fresh new vibe. For some, the mere thought of it might be considered sacrilegious since the aura forged at the factory is considered to be absolutely iconic. There are others though whose creativity operates at an entirely different level when it comes to adding their creativity to the bones. Regardless if it’s a mild facelift or an extensive rework, it’s all about personal expression.
Such is the case with Steve Wilson’s wicked 1956 Ford F100 from Athol, Massachusetts, appearing across our pages. The evolution of a true radical kustom starts with an artist’s vision and evolves from there. It’s not always the first iteration that survives as these vehicles continue to change hands as the years pass by with each new owner continuing to dial in the original form to reflect their own personal style. For Steve, growing up in a family hip to hot rods and customs laid out a path for him to follow since there was always something brewing in the family garage fueled by endless car shows and swap meets. Magically he was drawn to customs of the ‘50s and ‘60s with their flowing body lines bringing them to an entirely new level. Before long he was wrenching a 1954 Ford Customline to start dialing in his craft while also working for a number of local shops.
After attending WyoTech with a concentration in hot rod and chassis fabrication, collision refinishing and high performance engines he moved to California, landing a job at Gambino Customs in San Jose. Working for Alex Gambino finally gave him the opportunity to concentrate on the type of traditional customs he was fascinated with as a builder. With regard to the evolution of a radical kustom, here’s where Steve’s F100 got started when he first saw it as owned by Papa Joe of the Road Zombies car club. Originally chopped 3 ½-inches by Joe and Eric Lamonas it featured a shortened bed, hammered stance and blue suede body with red flames. Steve immediately made a deal for it and began driving it daily. The first redo came with Steve working along with his friends at Gambino’s and members of the Road Zombies and Road Lords to dial in the body with a classic ‘50s-era green and gold panel paint design. Once moving back to Massachusetts he continued to drive the truck while also becoming co-owner of his very own shop, Wilson and Steely Kustom Coachworks in Athol.
With the truck having seen plenty of miles it was finally time for a full refresh, one that had been percolating in the back of his mind for quite some time. Once disassembled Steve blasted the frame clean and got started. To bury the stance, up front he Z’s the originally installed 1974 Chevy Nova subframe and fabricated a new rear frame from the cab back with new framerails while also incorporating custom crossmembers. Out back, a new Currie Enterprises Ford 9-inch rear with matching 31-spline axles spin 3.73 gears and is suspended in place by a custom-fabbed triangulated 4-link matched to Slam Specialties SS-Series ‘bags and Bilstein monotube shocks. Up front, Steve updated the originally installed 1974 Chevy Nova IFS with custom tubular upper and lower control arms, 1-inch dropped spindles, Slam Specialties SS-Series ‘bags and Bilstein monotube shocks. When its time to drop anchor a dual power master from SSBC moves fluid through stainless lines to matching 11-inch drilled and slotted rotors with SuperTwin 4-piston calipers out back and 2-piston units at the front. It all meets the street through a set of classic 15×7.5-inch Rocket Racing Strike-model wheels capped with Diamond Back Classic wide whites.
For power and dependability Steve contacted Blue Print Engines of Kearney, Nebraska for one of their bulletproof 383ci small-block Chevy V-8’s. Straight from the crate, a 4-bolt main block packs a cast steel crank linked to H-beam steel rods capped hypereutectic pistons getting nudged by a flat-tappet cam. Up top, a set of Blue Print Performance aluminum heads make plenty of power while an Edelbrock Performer dual-quad intake topped with AVS Thunder-Series 500cfm carbs suck down the goods. An MSD Pro-Billet ignition lights the fire while spent gasses dump thorough reworked 1973 Camaro exhaust manifolds to a custom 2 ½-inch stainless exhaust with Pypes M-80 mufflers. There are plenty of shiny bits including OTB Gear valve covers, air cleaners and chrome Powermaster alternator. A TCI Automotive 700-R4 with a Street Fighter converter pushes power to a custom driveshaft from Mitchell Drivetrain in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
When reimagining the trucks style, Steve worked with this team to bring wicked to a whole new level. Starting at the top they nipped an additional 1-inch from the original chop and followed by massaging the A-pillars. The grille was then fully reworked to blend a flipped 1957 Chevy truck grille in place while also upping the ante with a pair of canted-quad 1959 Chevy Impala headlights all massaged into a custom-formed roll pan. Each door bottom was then rounded along with the fabrication of one-off running boards and the bottoms of the front and rear fenders being sectioned 1-inch. Since the bed was previously shortened by 16-inches, the team focused on the updating the tailgate while also adding 1961 Buck Invicta taillights, new roll pan and filling the stake bed holes. Everything was then shaved, gapped and prepped for paint. When it was time to lay down the color, Steve’s vision for the truck came to life. Team member Richard “Duck” Day brought the heat with a flawless combination of Axalta Black Diamond metallic as a base color to cover the truck followed with the flames in Little Daddy Roth Spinas Black Powder flake. The panels were then accented with scallops in a blend of Little Daddy’s Custard Pie and Ghetto Gold and topped them with a final coating of SEM California Gold candy. The final spark came from the brushes of Denis Day who laid down endless pinstriping to complete the new look.
When building a radical kustom the interior had better match the rest of the build. The dash was smoothed and filled with dials from Classic Instruments while a steering wheel from Con2r lays out a course with a Lokar shifter clicking gears. For the long haul, a pair of 1959 Nash Metropolitan seats were recovered in traditional white pearl vinyl by Clint Morton who also covered the inside of the bed with the same material and fitted the gold loop carpet. Team member Jon Reed then covered the kick panels, custom console with the same vinyl and wrapped it up with plenty of Polar White fur accents. This is one radical Kustom hauler that is sure to grab your attention wherever it is and we totally dig it!