Ford's marketing executives borrowed from 19th Century Hispanic California history to name a new light pickup that was introduced in the 1950s. Comprised of automotive components as opposed to truck parts, the vehicle needed a moniker befitting its uniqueness. In Spanish, a Ranchero was a man who owned a large parcel of land. Introduced on November 12, 1956, the '57 Ford Ranchero was an instant sensation. Unlike any competitive manufacturer's pure pickup offering, Rancheros exuded panache and utility at the same time. Styling cues came from the sporty Ford Thunderbird. With a 6-foot bed and load capacity of 1,190 pounds, it provided utility equal to its handsome design.

In the late '50s, Ford Rancheros weren't just used as ranch hands. They were also prevalent with race car and dragster racing teams as dependable tow vehicles. Service stations and body shops sought cache with the classy and practical car/truck by using them as their shop vehicles. Bryan Thompson liked the looks of the '57 Rancheros the best, preferring the single headlight faces to the double-lens noses of later models. When he purchased a '57 in the summer of 1999, Brian wanted to create a '50s custom. He'd had success building custom motorcycles over the years, but never attempted an automobile.

Seeking a pavement-hugging ride height, Bryan knew that airbags were the answer. Steve Prince of Bakersfield, California, C-notched the frame to the ground, de-arched the rear leaf springs, and installed Firestone 'bags fore and aft. Covered by Coker wide whitewall spats, the factory 14-inch steel wheels, wearing four-pronged chrome wheel covers, were bolted to the stock drum brakes.

Central Coast Mustang, in Tehachapi, California, massaged an '85 302ci Ford motor to deliver 340 hp. In the rebuild process, the crew used a Ford Racing camshaft and GT40P cast-iron performance heads. Chromed Ford Tri-Y long-tube headers were bolted to the block, with Lake Pipes by Mooneyes taking over the exhaust flow from there. The engine was mated to a reconditioned Ford C4 automatic transmission, which turns a 2-inch shortened driveshaft and stock Ford 9-inch pumpkin. A custom-cut Caddy air cleaner, circa 1955, was painted and pinstriped to match what the exterior would look like, and bolted atop the four-barrel carburetor.

As for the interior, the bodywork and paint came from none other than K-Daddy himself. K-Daddy, also known as Kyle P. Gann, took the '57 Ranchero and shaved all the door handles and trim. He primed, prepped, and finish-sanded the body to perfection before laying down the eye-catching '50s House of Kolor Silver pinstripes over the PPG Blood Red paint scheme. K-Daddy's brilliant artistry really shines in this '57 Ranchero, teaming up with the graphic paint, bodywork, and old-school paint team of Kal Koncepts/Air Syndicate, in Bakersfield, California.

No '50s custom could be complete without tuck-'n'-roll vinyl beautifying the confines of the interior. R&A Upholstery, also in Bakersfield, custom-stitched the stock Ford seating surfaces in silver vinyl tuck 'n' roll, as well as the headliner. The crew finished off the floor with tastefully rich black wool carpet. Presiding over the interior, a Kon Tiki-esque carved wood warlord was placed over the 28-inch chrome Gennie shifter, which was shrouded in a silver vinyl shift boot. An in-dash Kenwood CD/stereo and 6-1/2-inch speakers weren't available in any '50s custom, but the sweet sounds that emanate about the cab while cruisin' more than makes up for complete customization correctness.

We're sure you'll never grow tired of viewing Christine and Bryan Thompson's carefully crafted '50s custom at the various show 'n' shines. As authentic as the Thompson's Ranchero is, we wouldn't be surprised if Elvis himself was slumbering underneath the silver tonneau. Sweet dreams to the King and to the Thompsons for their clever creation.