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1953 F100- From Neglected To Perfected

A Retirement Project Turned 25-Year Masterpiece

Joe Greeves
May 4, 2018
Photographers: Joe Greeves
Raul Silva from El Paso, Texas, enjoyed a career in the engineering department of his city, charged with inspecting and maintaining its infrastructure. When he retired, he took a slightly different approach than most. “When a lot of people retire, they immediately go out to find another job,” Raul tells us. “I wanted to retire and get away from the business world. Thankfully, I had a project.” As it turned out, the truck he bought back in 1991 might have been even more of a project than he bargained for. But, with the help of many friends, the forgotten old Ford became a showstopper—although it was anything but an overnight success.
Photo 2/14   |   1953 F100 Rear
Raul grew up in a car-oriented family where Dad, a consummate car guy, would buy, fix, and regularly sell cars. That established a love for the hobby in Raul that is still strong today. Using multiple car shows over the years and the endless opportunities available from the aftermarket as a source of inspiration, Raul already had a clear idea for the direction of his project truck. His talents as an experienced draftsman helped create design visuals, and his good friends were able to put his ideas to work. The build, however, needed to start from scratch. Found in a field, the tired and neglected ’53 F100 needed extensive sheetmetal work and all new running gear, so the first step was separating the usable parts of the body from the chassis. After boxing the frame, the long march into the new millennium began with a TCI independent front suspension package that included new A-arms, adjustable coilovers, and rack-and-pinion power steering. The TCI four link and Panhard bar in the rear hold a narrowed Lincoln Versailles 9-inch positraction rear and 4.88 gears. A 16-gallon tank from Rick’s Hot Rods located between the rear framerails keeps the cab sweet smelling. An indicator of the attention to detail is the 1/2-inch PVC along the framerails, added to protect all the gas lines, brake lines, and wiring.
Photo 3/14   |   1953 F100 Engine
Power was next, and it was important to Raul that the Ford have a Ford under the hood—in this case, a 351 Windsor bored to 383ci. Since it also had to be really quick, he turned to the aftermarket to create just the right amount of too much fun. The Windsor was completely disassembled and rebuilt with a handpicked assortment of modern performance upgrades that began with Keith Black pistons, a Pete Jackson gear drive, Lunati cam, and Edelbrock heads. For looks as well as performance, dual quad Edelbrock 500-cfm EnduraShine carbs sit on an Air-Gap Performer intake. The MSD Pro-Billet electronic ignition fires the fuel/air mix while Sanderson ceramic-coated headers extract spent gases, directing them through a Sanderson X-pipe and dual Magnaflow mufflers. Dress-up items include Billet Specialties valve covers and air cleaner, TruTrac serpentine engine pulley system, and a polished aluminum radiator. A reworked Ford AOD transmission, complete with B&M 10-inch torque converter and Monster Transmission and Performance shift kit multiplies the engine’s stout 385 hp. The chassis became a roller, thanks to American Racing 17x8 rims and Toyo rubber, with Wilwood four-piston disc brakes ensuring modern stopping power.
All the original sheetmetal on the truck was reworked to a high standard, with the exception of the bed and rear fenders, which were too far gone to save. Dennis Carpenter came to the rescue with aftermarket replacements. Subtle touches include the running boards redesigned to fit closely to the body and the front bumper tucked in 3 inches. The factory grille was chromed, and Raul chose Tri-Bar headlights originally designed for motorcycle use. They match the vintage taillights, all four featuring centrally mounted blue dots. Magnaflow pipes poking through the Dan Carpenter roll pan give you a hint of the F100’s power under the hood. Personalizing the smooth tailgate is a Little Stinker cartoon character, a tribute to Raul’s first truck, one that went missing back in the ’80s and was never seen again.
Photo 4/14   |   1953 F100 Interior
Photo 5/14   |   1953 F100 Interior Seats
Moving inside, the interior started as a clean slate with a starkly simple dash, devoid of any distractions, painted black and white, and holding only Dakota Digital gauges and Vintage Air components. The cab benefits from a stunning collection of fiberglass upgrades, beginning with a unique overhead console that holds the Pioneer head unit. Below, the matching center console begins as a gloss black and upholstered armrest between the Infinity bucket seats, flowing forward to hold the Lokar automatic shifter. It transitions to White Pearl and drops down, returning to create a waterfall effect. The grille between the buckets holds the Memphis 10-inch sub, tweeters are mounted in the headliner, and 6.5-inch component sets are located behind the seats. A 400-watt Memphis amp under the passenger seat provides power. Raul’s wife, Gela, nicknamed the lightning bolt theme in the distinctive door panels as the “Power Ranger touch.” The fiberglass kick panels match the door panels perfectly. Raul connects with his “Effie” using a Billet Specialties wheel on an ididit column. With every feature modernized, the single-pane side glass, doors, and tonneau cover all work from a remote with linear actuators raising and lowering the Pro’s Pick tonneau cover. The Ford logo and V-8 symbol were airbrushed under the cover, and the maple planks are separated by aluminum strips. The upholstery was done by the talented team at Keller Kustoms in El Paso, which was also responsible for the bodywork and paint. Raul chose House of Kolor Raven Black along with Ivory Parchment Pearl with tangerine and gunmetal striping. Graphics pass through the doors and into the engine compartment.
We ran into Raul at the F-100 Supernationals in Tennessee, an event that’s been on his bucket list since 2012. It was a five-day, 1,350-mile trip from home, but Raul smiled when he told us, “Seeing your truck in your favorite magazine makes the journey worthwhile!” One more special item of note: Raul is continuing the family tradition started by his dad, working with his grandson Austin and teaching him about cars. A recent high school graduate, Austin will get the keys to the ’53 and a legendary road trip on Route 66 with his grandfather when he shows Raul a college diploma. Talk about incentive!

Inside the Build

1953 Ford F-100
Raul Silva; El Paso Texas
CHASSIS: Original frame boxed and powdercoated
Front Suspension: TCI independent front suspension with TCI adjustable coilover shocks, Wilwood Forged Billet Dynalite disc brakes
Rear Suspension: TCI four-link rear suspension, TCI Panhard bar with TCI adjustable coilover shocks, Lincoln Versailles 9-inch positraction rear and 4.88 gears, Wilwood Forged Billet Dynalite disc brakes
Engine: Ford 351 Windsor bored to 383ci; Eagle crank; Keith Black pistons; PRW 3/8-inch chromoly one-piece pushrods; Lunati cam; Pete Jackson gear drive; Edelbrock Performer RPM heads; Edelbrock Performer Air-Gap manifold; Edelbrock Performer Series 500-cfm carburetors (both with EnduraShine finish); MSD Performance Blaster Coil and 15mm superconductor wires; ceramic-coated Sanderson 2.5-inch headers and crossover pipe; Magnaflow mufflers; Bullitt Mustang exhaust tips; Billet Specialties dual quad air cleaner, front cover, valve covers, and TruTrac serpentine engine pulley system; Moroso engine oil cooler; JEGS transmission oil cooler; Melling oil pump; Tuff Stuff Super Cool water pump; Moroso 7-quart oil pan; Canton Racing Products windage tray; Performance high-torque mini starter; Sacramento Vintage Ford electric cooling fan and radiator
Transmission: Ford AOD with B&M 10-inch torque converter, 3,200-rpm-stall Monster Transmission shift kit
’53 Ford; all metal with 96 louvers in the hood; re-chromed original ’53 Ford grille; tucked front bumper; Dennis Carpenter’s rear fenders, bed, and rear roll pan; shaved door handles; custom running boards; Pro’s Pick tonneau cover with linear actuators; maple planks separated by stainless steel strips; gas filler in bed; Mustang Bullitt exhaust tips in rear pan; single-pane side glass; and House of Kolor Black, Pearl, and Tangerine graphics sprayed by Keller Customs in El Paso, Texas
Dynamat everywhere; all smooth dash with Dakota Digital gauges; Vintage Air air-conditioning; ididit steering column; Billet Specialties wheel; Lokar shifter; fiberglass door panels, center console, and overhead console; Infiniti six-way adjustable leather seats upholstered by Keller Kustoms in El Paso, Texas
Stereo: Pioneer head unit, Memphis 400-watt amp with built-in crossover, Memphis MC Series 5 speakers, 10-inch sub, two 6x9 component sets, and two 3-inch tweeters
Wheels: 17x8; American Racing Hopsters
Tires: 225/55R17, 255/60R17; Toyo
Special Thanks: Tim Brown, Carlos Chong, Sergio Tahuahua, Sacramento Vintage Ford, Keller Kustoms, Raul’s wife Argelia (Gela) and, of course, Dad.



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