Flash back 50 years to the good old days when street rods were called hot rods, cruising was safe, racing was fun, and steel was the material of choice for car and truck manufacturers. No plastic, no trucks spraying nitrous, and definitely no neon protruding from every nook and cranny of the truck, drawing maximum attention. No, those were the days of genuine friendships, turning your own wrenches, and loving every second of it. Now, flash forward to 2003 and take a close look at Bennie Greene's '52 Ford F-1 pickup, and you just might think you're back in the Fifties. Old-school steel wheels, retro interior, and, the clincher, a Ford small-block under the bonnet distinguish Bennie's hot-rod hauler from the big-wheeled, completely digital variety common to today's show scene.

A hot rodder at heart, Bennie purchased the '52 Effie in honor of his lovely wife Carol, who was born in 1952 and began an eight-month love affair with a truck he wanted to be all-steel and all-Ford. To start the project, the truck was removed from the frame, then it was stripped, sandblasted, and boxed. On went the Mustang II frontend, complete with AFCO coilover shocks, and then the frame was painted to ensure years of beauty and rust-free operation. Out back, Bennie bolted on a set of adjustable leaf springs, relocated the battery underneath the cab on the frame, and bolted in the Ford 9-inch rearend and 4:11 gears.

Rolling stock for the Effie was straight out of the old-school handbook for hot rods, titled, "Wheels of Choice for a Muscular-Look." The chromed steel wheels measure 15x8 inches up front, wrapped in Triumph P235/60R15 tires, and 15x9 inches in the rear, with Triumph P275/60R15 supplying the rubber. To stop these wheels and tires, the Mustang II disc brakes are squeezed, thanks to the pressure supplied by the power brake booster and master cylinder plumbed with stainless hoses. However, stopping is no fun and keeping to his original plan, Bennie looked for a donor Ford powerplant to make his F-1 haul.

Searching for the perfect mix of power and looks, Bennie found a '93 Ford Cobra 5.0L engine just waiting to be given some TLC. Whereas the internals are all stock, the bolt-ons are all show, including the chrome Tuff Stuff water pump, chrome 100A alternator, aluminum Cobra valve covers, and powdercoated Cobra headers. The fuel injection was swapped in favor of a 650-cfm Carter four-barrel and chrome high-performance intake manifold. Providing spark for the fuel is a complete electronic Mallory ignition. Sending the estimated 235 horses to the ground is a Ford AOD transmission. With the chassis and motivation complete, it was time to move to the paint and body.

The all-steel truck was delivered to Woodie Woodham of Hudson, Florida, who proceeded to spray endless coats of Torch Red paint on all of the exterior and interior surfaces. With the paint applied, the wooden bed, with stainless inserts, was installed along with the chrome front bumper and chrome grille. The gas filler was installed in a subtle location in the rear of the wooden bed. Smiles went all around with the completion of the body, chassis, and engine, but now it was Carol's turn to show some automotive expertise. Next up, the interior.

Carol designed a retro Fifties interior complete with Mercury Villager buckets, wrapped in white leather with red piping, leather headliner, and door panels installed by Wally's Upholstery in New Port Richey, Florida. The Havaline gauges look perfect in the paint-matched dash, and the Vintage Air A/C system keeps things nice and cool down in Florida. For those long trips to shows, Bennie installed a LeCarra steering wheel and a stereo tape player with speakers under the dash and behind the seat.

Bennie has received his share of accolades with five Best of Show awards and two People's Choice awards, and with support from his wife, Carol, there are surely more to come. Keeping things simple and keeping things genuine is an art form often lost in shows complete with crazy paint and frame-scraping trucks. It is a pleasure to gaze upon and learn about a truck that truly brings back the hot-rod era with such grace and red beauty.