Custom 1955 Ford F-100 Panel Van - Purple Haze
Many times, projects come about because of family necessities. This was the case with Larry Hill, a heating contractor from Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Larry has been a custom truck enthusiast and member of the Southern Ontario Classic Pickup Club for the past 15 years. His previous Blue Oval ride was a trick '55 F-100 that he and his wife, Pam, displayed at show 'n' shines religiously in both Canada and the United States. As the years went by, the Hills became a family of four with the addition of their two kids, Ryan and Kendyl. At this time, Larry and Pam knew that if they were going to continue to enjoy their hobby, they would need to pursue other options: A show vehicle that would accommodate the kids, cargo, and show essentials.
A short time later, Larry discovered a weathered '53 Ford F-100 panel that would cure his dilemma. After throwing down $1,200 for the pink slip, he loaded the lifeless carcass onto the trailer and hauled it home. A major project such as this takes time, patience, dedication, and commitment. But during the journey, new friendships are established, and the finished result creates family enjoyment, bonding, and priceless memories that will last a lifetime. This masterpiece you see before you took Larry, Ron Chaisson, Rick Elder, Al Carnes, and family six years to complete.
The '55 F-100 panel was completely disassembled. After the original frame was retrieved from the sandblaster, Larry and Ron boxed and smoothed the framerails, adding both rigidity and styling. The rear framerails were C-notched, allowing for added suspension travel for the Ford 8.8 rearend housing stuffed with new axle bearings and 3.08 gears. Larry and Ron fabricated a triangulated four-link rear suspension, damped by a pair of Monroe shocks teamed with Air Ride Technologies pneumatic 'bags that are responsible for the rearend's vertical ride height. To achieve a less stressful front suspension geometry, the panel was body-channeled 2 inches. Ford factory disc brakes are located at each of the corners, linked by 3/16-inch steel brake lines. Larry's panel rolls on polished aluminum 17x8-inch Eagle Alloys in the front and 18x8-inch alloys in the rear wrapped with 245/45R17 front and 275/45R18 Continental rear rubber.
A '95 Ford 302ci powerplant had its cylinder heads and block machined by Ford Racing. The block's external surface was then machined smooth, and the aluminum intake manifold was match-ported to the cylinder heads before being polished. The Interstate battery was relocated to the rear of the frame. An MSD blaster coil creates the consistent hot spark distributed by a ProForm electronic ignition through 8mm Ford Racing ignition wires. A pair of shortie, JBA chromed headers were bolted up to the Ford cylinder heads that flow spent fumes from the fabricated 2-inch exhaust into throaty MagnaFlow muffs. A Pete Jackson geardrive was installed to obtain that signature whine as the gears mesh. An '85 Ford AOD transmission was linked to the rearend with a driveshaft borrowed from a Ford Aerostar.
The panel body was completely blasted to get it down to virgin metal. Larry fabricated the steel running boards, a massive one-piece gullwing rear door, and a custom rear roll pan with a recessed license plate. Larry used the stock grille shell that is flanked by a pair of Hagan Tri-Bar blue dot headlights. The rear LED taillights were sliced and frenched into the roll pan. The panel's metal surfaces had been shaved of door handles and badges. After endless hours of block-sanding and filling, Larry achieved flawless, straight panels, doors, and fenders. The rich purple color was applied to continue that clean, smooth appearance.
The interior dash was extended 2 inches and then smoothed. The original gauge cluster was removed to make room for a Dakota Digital cluster. The incredible stitch craft was created by Barkey's Upholstery in Orillia, Ontario, Canada. The cut-down front seats were donated from a Dodge Caravan, and the rear seat was pulled from a Ford Aerostar. The seats were covered in Ultra bone leather with purple leather flame inserts. A huge seamless, one-piece headliner was also covered with Ultra bone leather. The Ultra bone leather door panels were accented with purple leather armrests.
This cool '53 panel allows the Hill's to cruise in comfort and style as they attend show 'n' shines in style in the ultimate classic family hauler.