1956 Ford F-100 Restomod - Ike's Pride

An Award-Winning '56 Effie

Hoyt Vandenberg
Jun 2, 2005
Photographers: Bob Ryder
Photo 2/12   |   1956 Ford F100 front Left View
Ike Lovelace of Little Rock, Arkansas, has been into custom Fords for more than 30 years. During the '70s, Ike's vehicles had always been more go than show items, with most of his modification efforts applied to making his Fords go faster. In fact, Ike felt that he had the hottest-performing Ford cars and trucks in town back in those days. But Ike's focus on performance changed directions one day at a truck show when his brother Ray simply suggested, "Hey, let's build a real show truck." Sixteen years later, the result of that suggestion is the bright-red '56 Big Window F-100 featured on these pages.
After deciding to build a show vehicle, the next step in the process was to find a suitable truck to start working on. Ike had seen a very clean '56 F-100 around town that looked good, but he was unable to get the owner to part with it. The search went on, and five years later, Ike ran into the '56 one more time. It was the same truck, but it was a bit more weathered and had a For Sale sign hanging in the window. The year was 1984, and Ike gladly gave $1,200 for the aging Effie.
Photo 3/12   |   1956 Ford F100 headlight View
Ike and his brothers wasted no time in tearing the '56 down, but the rebuild process would take a bit longer than expected. Due to time constraints imposed by jobs, family, and friends, Ike's truck project advanced at a snail's pace, slowly but surely moving forward. The truck came with a '69 351ci Windsor, which was lifted out of the engine bay and donated to another project, a '69 Ranchero. After tearing the truck down to the bare frame, Ike shipped it down to Redi-Strip in Jacksonville, Mississippi. He said his truck looked as shiny as a new coin when he got it back. Ike was pleased to find that the truck was whole, straight, and free of filler underneath the paint -- definitely a good candidate for total restoration.
In order to update the suspension, Ike installed the front clip of a '72 Torino. In the rear, a custom four-link on coil springs was fabricated in order to hang the rearend of a '78 Lincoln Mark V under the bed. Lincoln disc brakes reside at all four corners. During the suspension assembly process, Ike shipped various parts and pieces around the country for chrome plating. Lemon Grove Plating in National City, California, and Razorback Bumper Chrome in Littlerock were chosen to triple-chrome-plate all the A-arms and the related suspension components for a show-winning shine.
Photo 4/12   |   Ike's brother Ray built this stout 351 Cleveland for the '56. Every bracket and accessory in sight is plated or polished. Much of the hardware came from Godman High Performance in Memphis.
As Ike was massaging the suspension, his brother Ray started working on a fresh 351 Cleveland block to install under the hood. The 351-C was Ike's favorite Ford powerplant; he felt it filled the engine bay more completely than the Windsor 351 motor. The Cleveland block was rebuilt and treated to a wealth of stainless hoses and polished lines from Godman High Performance in Memphis. Aluminum-coated Hooker headers were bolted in place, and the 351 was dropped into the truck. A modified '71 Mustang driveshaft was employed to mate the new engine and a '69 Mustang automatic transmission to the Lincoln third member. Colorado Customs 17-inch Leadville wheels with Goodyear rubber completed the rolling chassis.
Photo 5/12   |   Rick Hall of Malvern, Arkansas, performed major metal surgery on Ike's Effie. The stock grille was cut down and recessed 3 inches farther back into the nose of the truck, and the front bumper was deleted altogether.
Ike approached Rick Hall of Malvern, Arkansas, for Rick's expert help in building the perfect body for the '56. Rick filled and smoothed every inch of the exterior. He recessed the front grille several inches into the front of the truck and widened the rear fenders 3 inches to accommodate the Lincoln rearend and its wide-tire placement. The driprails and the door handles were shaved, and a third brake light was installed into a louvered tailgate. Both bumpers were deleted, and the gas filler moved into the totally refurbished bed. No Limit Engineering supplied a new fuel tank, and '39 Ford taillights were frenched into the rear fenders. Rick also smoothed and filled the dashboard and fabricated a custom panel to house a Vintage Air air-conditioning system.
Photo 6/12   |   The frenched-in taillights came from a '39 Ford. Ike added the Blue Dots after the fact.
Basically, Rick went over every square inch of the old Effie and gave it a whole new look and a whole new life. You can be sure every panel was smooth and perfect prior to Rick's application of bright-red paint. It's interesting to note that all the original steel body parts were retained in the project. No fillers or fiberglass panels were used anywhere on the truck. While it would have been simpler to bolt on a set of wider rear fiberglass aftermarket fenders, Rick did it the hard way with metal and the original fenders. Ike described Rick Hall's work as simply astonishing and said Rick had performed miracles on his truck.
On a Friday afternoon in mid May of 2001, Ike and brother Ray were just about finished with the '56 Effie project. As they applied the final touches in Ike's garage, they realized they were nearly out of time, since the truck was entering its first truck show the next morning in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It has taken 16 years and about $45,000 to complete the truck, but it was worth the wait. Ike and his Effie grabbed the coveted People's Choice Award at the 23rd Annual Ford F-100 Supernationals on his first try. Needless to say, Ike will most likely be attending more shows and grabbing more trophies in 2002.
Photo 7/12   |   1956 Ford F100 interior View
Inside Excellence

The stunning interior work in Ike Lovelace's '56 F-100 is evidence of the handiwork of Bill Calkin of the Recovery Room Customs in Bradford, Arkansas. While Ike's friend Rick Hall set up the dashboard, the steering column, the air conditioning, the door handles, the window switches and the instruments, it was the upholstery experts at the Recovery Room who stretched new gray leather over a pair of power bucket seats lifted from a '94 Chrysler. The stock headrests were, of course, chopped off. Matching door panels sport Ford logos and raised accents for a bit of modern class in an old truck. This is one interior that is nice to look at and nice to drive in, too.



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