1953 Ford F100 - Worth The Wait
Jeff's Pro-Touring Blue Devil
Jeff Freitas from Redding, California, was introduced to fat fendered Fords at age 15 by his older brother Jerry. Jerry had already owned two '53 Blue Ovals. Wanting to buy a '56 and still keep one of the `53's in the family, he offered one of them to Jeff. Jeff purchased it from his big bro and the rest is, well you know.
In 1989, Jeff attended the F-100 North & South show held in San Luis Obispo, California, with his '53 Ford F-100. Truckin' magazine was there covering the event, but to his surprise, when Truckin' came out on the newsstand featuring the North & South Show, his '53 wasn't anywhere in the show coverage. Of course, Jeff must remember at the time of the show his truck was in primer with a plywood bed; not a real editor magnet. After the '89 F-100 North & South Show, Jeff decided to rebuild the truck.
During the early `90's, Pro Street was very popular among trucks and cars. Jeff decided he was going to build a topnotch Pro Street machine. Nine years later with the raising of a family and involved in his career working for IBM, there was little time to devote to the truck.
Jeff was introduced to Sonny Siebert of Sonny's Old Cars through his hot-rod father-in-law, Whitey Palmer. Jeff and Sonny created a list of what they wanted to accomplish on the '53 Ford. The first thing was to build a Ford in a Ford and it had to look fast while rollin' down the road or sittin' parked. The '72 Chevelle front clip welded to the original Ford frame rails in '83 was left unmolested. The framerails were boxed for added strength and appearance. An Air Ride tubular Strong Arm front suspension kit with Shockwave air shocks were installed. A '75 Ford 9-inch rear end housing was narrowed to 54 inches, then stuffed with 3:50.1 gears and a Richmond posi-unit complete with Somers Bros. 31 splined axles. The same Air Ride tank and compressors that were used to activate the front and rear suspension are also responsible for the tilt-bed action. The rear suspension is a triangulated four-bar set-up. Its vertical action comes from a pair of Air Ride Shockwave pneumatic shocks. An 8-inch ECI power brake booster provides plenty of brake pressure to the front and rear ECI disc brake calipers and rotors. After everything was fitted properly, the wheels, tires, brakes and suspension were all removed to expose the bare frame. The frame was then sent out and painted a Moonglow pearl gray. It was later reassembled. A pair of Foose 18x8-inch Nitrous Legend wheels with 28x10.00-18 Mickey Thompson, rubber were mounted up front. Out back, a pair of Foose 20x14-inch Nitrous Legend wheels were wrapped with massive Mickey Thompson 31x16-20 meats.
The grunt comes from a '67 Ford Cobra Jet V-8 that was disassembled, cleaned, machined, then assembled with all new performance goodies by the crew at Randy Liddell Performance (RLP) in Redding, California. The factory cylinder heads were ported and polished, and a new complete valve train was installed. An Edelbrock intake manifold and a Holley electrical fuel pump makes sure the Cobra Jet is never under nourished as it's fed by a 650-cfm Holley carburetor. A Mallory distributor, ignition coil, and Powermaster alternator are in charge of delivering a consistent electrical charge through the Taylor 8.8 mm ignition wires to the spark plugs.
During the hot summer night cruises, a heavy-duty four-row '67 Ford radiator backed up with a pair of Flex-a-Lite fans keeps the Cobra Jet cool. A pair of `62-`63 factory cast iron, 427ci Cyclone long tube block-hugger headers direct the burnt gasses into the exhaust system that was designed and bent up by Steve Lewis at George's Muffler Shop in Anderson, California. A pair of Magnaflow 2-inch mufflers produce that unique throaty sound while making horsepower and exiting through the 3-inch exhaust tips. A Ford C-6 automatic transmission delivers the power to the rearend.
The `53's cab needed to be straightened while the roof was lowered 3 inches. The rear window maintained its stock height giving it a taller appearance due to the chop of the roof. The drip rails were removed, while the windshield was raised up into the cab's roof 1 inches, making it align with the side windows. The cab vents were removed, patched, and smoothed. The bed features a hand-fabricated louvered tailgate that was mounted flush with the bedsides. Jeff's brother, Jerry, cut and milled the beautiful black walnut bed floor, then he separated and secured the walnut planks with stainless steel stringers and carriage bolts. A Hagen gas filler cap was mounted into bed floor providing easy access to the '65 Mustang fuel tank that was mounted between the rear framerails behind the rear end.
The bed was raised 3 inches when a 2x3-inch rectangular tube subframe was designed and fabricated to support the bed and to eliminate any flexing during its lifting and lowering action. A Lokar hood latch and cables were used in conjunction with a custom bell crank, and Bear Claw latches to secure and release the tilting bed. A 3,000 pound single Air Ride airbag was mounted 25 percent from the pivot point axis to lift the bed. To create a more aerodynamic leading edge of Jeff's `53, the hood was pie- cut 1 inches. To achieve that Swiss Army knife action, a No Limit forward tilt hood kit was installed.
The front `53 grille was welded and smoothed and then a pair of `56 headlight rings and buckets were used to house the `56 inner panels. The front running lights were frenched into the front roll pan and flanked by a pair of amber turn indicators. A pair of custom-built 14-gauge steel running boards with stepped rear exhaust ports allow the dual 3-inch exhaust tips to exit. With everything fabricated and fitted properly the truck was then disassembled. The cab, hood, fenders, and bed were then massaged, sanded, primered and block-sanded until every part was straight and true. Randy's Auto Color in Redding, California, supplied Matrix primer. The components were then rolled into the paint booth where Sonny Sibert sprayed multiple coats of Matrix `04 Ford royal metallic blue. Following the base coats Sonny filled his spray gun pot with clear and applied multicoats of clear that were color sanded between each coat. After some time to cure, the trucks newly painted surface was then cut, buffed, and polished to its glistening brilliance.
Inside, the gauge cluster was widened 5 inches to house six Stewart Warner white-face gauges. The Vintage Air A/C and heater system was mated to a pair of custom vents from the 2-inch exhaust pipe. An ididit steering column was capped with a LeCarra Banjo-style leather-wrapped steering wheel. Jeff fabricated the center console that was constructed from -inch conduit and 18-gauge steel. Sonny then painted it with body-matching Matrix '04 Ford royal metallic blue. The center console houses the Air Ride gauges, pneumatic activation switches, running light switch, and a built-in compartment for the iPod and Alpine head unit. Chris Merrill was responsible for installing all of the ARC audio components, including speakers, audio amp, and Kenwood subwoofers. Scott Stanley of Cottonwood, California, performed the interior design and fabrication. Scott used a pair of BMW 328 bucket seats, removing their headrests before covering them with black leather. BMW 328 door panels and Porsche gray and black tweed carpet were installed to create that pro-touring appearance.
Recently Jeff and his wife Jody, returned to the 2008 Ford F-100 North & South Show in their same truck some 20 years later. The "Blue Tiki Devil" was named after their granddaughter Tara Kathlyn and from what we can see, Jeff and Jody's '53 Ford F-100 was worth the wait.