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Classic trucks are packed with character and loads of neat old-time features not found on today's technologically advanced, computer-controlled haulers. The trucks of yesteryear require good old muscle to roll down the windows to ventilate the cab and demanded excess force on the brake pedal to bring the heavy old sheetmetal to a halt. Navigating turns also becomes taxing while muscling with manual steering. All of this bare-bones character is usually accompanied by a million squeaks and rattles, the source of which, for some reason, can never be determined.
Getting behind the wheel of an all-original unrestored classic can take some getting use to, as compared to all the modern conveniences at your fingertips in a contemporary cruiser. However, when all the modern conveniences present on a new pickup are blended into a classic package, the driving experience is a plush, thumbs-up one, to say the least. Bill Allen of Riverside, California, is a classic truck lover at heart, who, like most enthusiasts, started out with a plan to build a conservative driver capable of spinning a few heads. Bill's story is not much different than that of any other enthusiast who took a project a lot farther than ever anticipated. The exception in Bill's case is that his truck was already in daily driver form when purchased and just needed some freshening up. Every time we have encountered someone who just wanted to build a driver, before they know it the body is coming off the frame, parts are sent out for powdercoating and polishing, and stacks upon stacks of hundred dollar bills are being tossed in all different directions.
Doused in the shiny stuff, this Vette mill looks as good as it performs.
According to Bill, when he set out to create the '55 F-100 featured on these pages, a budget and completion date were established and both were missed by a mile. As with most projects, addressing the underpinnings is usually the first order of business. After the 48-year-old metal was hoisted from the rusted and faded 'rails, the chassis was carted over to Merv McCormick, in Fontana, California, where the worn-out structure was boxed and graced with new front and rear suspension. Desiring a tight handling package with an ultra-smooth ride, Bill located a wrecked '91 Corvette and salvaged the 350 TPI engine, 700-R4 transmission, and rear differential for use in the old '55. The motor was delivered to Jim Meyer at RV Specialties in Riverside, California, where the block was filled with all new internals to ensure smooth operation. While the factory Vette powerplant was stuffed with new internals, the tuned-port injection unit was sent over to Street & Performance in Mena, Arkansas, for polishing. The 700-R4 gearbox was rebuilt at RV Specialties and fit with a custom shift-improvement kit to ensure gear-snapping, tire-burning performance when the go pedal is planted.
There is no substitute for detail. This Effie was taken down to the bare frame, and the ra
Over at Merv McCormick's shop in Fontana, the chassis was beginning to take shape with a fully polished Corvette rearend under the rear portion of the 'rails and front suspension from a '71 Nova. Before the 'rails were boxed, the polished transmission and brake lines were tucked away along with all the wiring. After all of the chassis engineering and detail work had taken place, the frame was coated from front to back in purple liquid to contrast against all of the gleaming chrome and polished suspension components. The frame's custom paint detail and polished goods were accented with 16x8 Budnik Blade Runner billet wheels dressed by BFGoodrich skins. The engine and transmission were installed and all the plumbing and electrical issues were addressed before custom attention was focused on the exterior.