The phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is often used to explain a certain simple, middle-America wisdom that folks in the Heartland of this country are said to embrace. This philosophy is supposed to help them live longer and more relaxed lives than their urban counterparts who are caught up in the stress of the rat race called modern life. What is not often heard is the second half of that adage that admonishes, "And if it is broke, you have to fix it better than it was." That part of the philosophy is the one those gentle country folks don't talk too much about. That's the part that can make you completely crazy with stress, and bankrupt too. Once you set out to improve something, it quickly becomes difficult to know when or where to stop. This is especially true when it comes to improving an old pickup.

Michael Dean "Peanut" Bowman of Blue Ridge, Virginia, obviously knows this old saying very well. One look at his pro-street big-block '69 Ford pickup and you might say that he knows all too well that it's hard to stop the modification process once started. Peanut's Ford was not exactly broken when he acquired it for $1,100 back in 1996. It ran, but it definitely needed some fixin' too. And from Peanut's point of view, it needed a whole lot of fixin'. So, first thing's first: The cab and the bed were removed to make things easier to work on. At that point, Peanut found it impossible to simply repair the truck; the fix turned into a full-blown frame-off restoration and improvement project. The frame was boxed, smoothed, and painted. Next, it was lowered 5 inches using lowered I-beams from AIM and Art Morrison coils in conjunction with Gabriel shocks up front. Out back, the ride height is reduced 6 inches with an Art Morrison four-Link rear clip and Art Morrison coilover gas shocks.

The anemic stopping power of the stock '69 Ford was fixed by installing new disc brakes at all four corners. A '75 F-100 donated its front disc setup, and the rears came from a '75 Lincoln. Brake lines are all braided steel items, of course. After installing a 16-gallon fuel cell between the rear framerails, Peanut mounted up some seriously huge Mickey Thompson meats on equally gigantic Weld wheels. Up front, normal 15x7s are used. In the rear, huge 15-inch-wide MT Sportsmans mounted on Weld billets have a distinct pro-street attitude about them.

A vintage '70 429 big-block was Peanut's powerplant of choice. The massive mill was fitted with ported and polished Ford factory Cobra Jet heads by B&W Racing of Salem, Virginia. B&W also slipped in a high-lift Comp Cams bumpstick during the engine assembly process. A Ford C6 tranny with a Trans-Go Shift Kit feeds the power to a narrowed 9-inch Ford rearend sporting 4.56:1 gears. Dunahoo headers were Jet-Hot-coated and hooked to a 4-inch exhaust system fabricated by Peanut's friends Chris and Tommy Turner of C&T Restorations in Bedford, Virginia. An MSD Ignition mated to a Crane coil finishes off the engine mods for now. As Peanut continues to fix his Ford, more power modifications may follow.

Turning once again to his friends at C&T Restorations, Peanut had the '69 sheetmetal sanded, smoothed, and painted PPG Black. All the factory chrome-plated stuff was deleted except for the grille shell, the front bumper, the door handles, and the side mirrors. The gas filler door was moved to inside the bed at the same time. Inside the cab, Peanut wanted to keep things clean and simple. Lynchburg Upholstery in Lynchburg, Virginia, yielded custom red leather seating and door panels with contrasting black carpeting and a headliner. Peanut installed the Pioneer in-dash CD head unit and 6x9 speakers -- nothing too fancy, but a system that could be expanded or added to in the future if desired. And that same capable adaptability seems to be a theme that runs throughout this truck: a clean piece of street iron that is fast, powerful, and a whole lot better than it was the day it was first purchased back in 1969. And now that it is no longer broken, maybe Peanut can stop fixin' it for a while.