1956 Ford F100 Custom Truck - '56 Ford Phatty
With A Twist
Harold Robinson from Camden, South Carolina, has been a custom car and truck fanatic since high school. We won't say when that was, but it was more than a few decades ago. During the late '70s, Harold began purchasing and collecting more high-quality street rods of the '30s and cruisers from the '50s. He currently has 14 custom rides in his collection. Very cool.
Harold wanted to have another cool custom build when his pinstriper introduced him to Michael Neighbors from Michael's Hot Rod in Franklinville, North Carolina. Harold became a frequent visitor of Michael's shop for the next five years, and he was able to observe what was being built and finished at the shop. Harold had purchased the remains of a weathered, old '56 Ford big-window pickup cab, doors, front fenders, and hood from a buddy of his. Then, he loaded his trailer with the '56's body armor and had Michael examine it to see if it was worthy enough project material. High-caliber builders of Michael's talent would expect this kind of challenge.
Like building a house, the first thing in a custom-truck build is its foundation. Michael called Brent VanDervot at Fat Man Fabrication in Charlotte, North Carolina, and ordered a complete Fat Man frame that was shortened 3-1/2 inches, boxed, then smoothed and painted. The front suspension consists of polished stainless steel upper and lower control arms, which were bolted up to a pair of smoothed and painted spindles. The Ford 9-inch rearend was stuffed with 3:70 gears, and was anchored with a four-link suspension. The Air Ride Technologies airbagged system allows both front and rear suspension to effortlessly rise to a comfortable, cruising ride height, then be lowered, grounding the running boards and tucking the 20-inch Budnik wheels. Those billet hoops are consumed in 235/35R20 front, and 295/45R20 rear BFGoodrich g-Force KDW2 rubber. Harold's spinnin' spools are slowed by a set of Wilwood four-piston calipers with 13-inch cross-drilled, ball-milled rotors at each corner.
The twist of this incredible Effie is its muscle, which comes from a Chevy 454ci big-block. Normally aspirated, this engine is fed by a 750cfm Demon carburetor. The Bow Tie crate engine produces 425 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. The engine block and cylinder heads were painted body-matching Galapagos green. The unique creativity that separates this engine from the others are the trick, handmade, body-color-matching green and silver with orange pinstriped air intake and valve covers, all of which enhance the engine's appearance. A pair of Sanderson block-hugger ceramic-coated headers direct the burnt gasses from each of the cylinder's exhaust ports into 2-1/2-inch-diameter exhaust that flows into a pair of MagnaFlow mufflers. An Optima battery is responsible for more than enough cranking amperage to rotate and fire the mighty big-block.
When Michael received the cab, doors, hood, and front fenders, he improved the cab by pancaking the roof 2 inches. Then, a Drag Specialties motorcycle flush mount gas cap was installed behind the door on the passenger side. The door handles were shaved, Dakota Digital actuators pop the doors, and side glass was replaced with Rocky Mountain Specialties one-piece electric side glass. Michael opted to purchase a custom bed from Dan Carpenter that was 3-inches wider and 3-inches shorter. The rear fenders were modified by increasing their height by 3-1/2 inches to allow the rear wheels and tires to tuck up deep inside the fenders. It also allows the smoothed and trimmed running boards to lay out flat when the 'bag system is deflated. The front fender wheel openings were moved forward 5 inches, then narrowed 1-inch, which made the openings a tad smaller. Michael removed the '56 factory dash, then fabricated his own dash that wraps around and continues into the doors. Next, a set of air conditioning vents were borrowed from an '07 Ford F-150. Michael used a gauge cluster from an '06 Nissan Altima to finish off the dash. Then, the crew at Classic Instruments made up a set of gauges that were inserted into the pods. He then designed and created the full waterfall center console.
With all of the body and interior mods completed, Michael rolled the prepped body into the paint booth, where it received a couple of coats of primer, then it was block-sanded to a flawless surface. Prior to spraying color, its two-tone paint scheme was taped off and masked. Michael mixed the PPG Mercedes-Benz Brilliant Silver, then applied it to the bottom half, followed by mixing and spraying the PPG Honda Galapagos Green to the top half. After allowing ample time to dry, Michael then broke out his pinstripe digger brush and laid the PPG Orange Crush dividing stripe. After it had time to cure, the entire body skin surface was buried in multiple coats of clear, before it was cut, buffed, and polished to a glistening finish. The grille bar is flanked by a pair of Speedway crystalline headlights using the rechromed factory headlight rings.
The only segment that Michael's crafty hands did not touch was the leather-stitchwork upholstery. Next, the freshly painted truck was trailered over to Hot Rod Interiors By Chuck in Morrisville, North Carolina, where Chuck Hanna designed and built the low-back custom bucket seats. He then covered them with mint mist leather, along with the door and kick panels. To reduce the engine and road noise, Chuck installed a layer of Dynamat sound-deadening material before laying mint mist leather floor covering.
The full green suede headliner adds to the mellow dcor. An '07 Ford F-150 shifter protrudes out of the full waterfall center console. The pedal assembly was made by Clayton Machine Works. An ididit painted tilt steering column was capped with a Budnik Gasser 50/50 green/silver painted steering wheel. The Vintage Air control panel and vents are within an effortless arms reach, located in the waterfall console. The year-round climate system maintains a comfortable ambient condition, either hot or cold.
It seems every mod that could be done to a '56 Ford F-100 has been done to the max. There is no doubt, Harold's '56 Ford Phatty will draw attention and trophies wherever he rolls. Too cool!
Michael's Rod ShopFranklinville, NC