Trucks come in all shapes and sizes, and when customized, they have a tendency to follow one theme or design cue. With early trucks it's all too easy to just open up a catalog and purchase some ready-made frame with all the modern bells and whistles. Once the body is slapped on, the owner could easily call it done with a little paint and chrome. Our eye still leans in that direction, but it sure is nice to find something that can't be bolted together like a big jigsaw puzzle. Cliff Leeper's 1965 F-250 is definitely one of the latter.
Cliff is the general manager and founder of Syndicate Automotive Concepts in San Diego, California, and has quite a history of auto-based accomplishments behind him. Somewhere between personal desire and the need to address the classics for his business made this hauler a reality. Starting in-house with a bone stock ex-work truck, fabricator David Chappelle tore into the frame to prepare it for a drastic reduction in ride height. Not wanting to merely bolt on an independent front suspension, the decision was made to go with a '76 Camaro subframe clip. That by itself swapped the eight-lug to five and brought the 3/4-ton nose down, but to make it go all the way to the floor, two-inch Superior drop spindles were thrown into the mix along with Firestone airbags. Within the opening where the bed floor used to reside, a clear view is offered of everything underneath. Most obvious is the fully painted frame and custom-trussed Chevy five-lug, 10-bolt rear axle attached to a triangulated four-link fit with more of Firestone's offerings. Hot-rod style 15x8-inch U.S. Wheel chromies rock Denman wide whites, making a perfect age statement.
More Chevy parts can be found underhood, as the old Blue Oval motivator was tossed in favor of a 350ci V-8. Broadway Auto Machine created the iron-block bottom end, with Brandon Luffe doing assembly. More ponies were added to the mix by installing an Edelbrock cam, heads, intake, and carburetor. Patriot headers are attached to an exhaust with a twist. At the exiting portion of the exhaust, fishtail pipes of the Harley-Davidson variety really make a classic statement. Storing the fuel necessary to run the engine is the duty of an RCI 20-gallon stainless fuel cell mounted in the bed. Shifting chores are handled with a Turbo 350 modified for better action with a B&M shift kit. Sticking out of the trans is a Ty Snyder Welding driveshaft that actually started life as a Ford product but with the addition of the necessary GM U-joints has transformed into a tiger of a different color.
Apparently, the only thing left that was still Ford was the body, but what a body it is. Not necessarily seen much as a custom, the 1965 sure does lend itself to the look. The body boys in Syndicate's back room put a bit of effort into making the truck into the beauty seen here. David Chappelle was called upon again, as was Nathan Chalberg, and the pair teamed to fill the bed seams, shave all the handles, mold the cowl to the front fenders, shave the mirrors and antenna, and generally smooth out the body's hulk. Rolled into the booth, Nathan filled his sprayer with PPG Cherry Bomb Red and gave the body a sheen of the shiny stuff. Adding some dimension, and the look of an older custom, '60s-style scallops were taped off and contrasted in silver. Pinstriping on the hood and tailgate evokes a sense of culture. The stock grille shell was polished by Romero's, and a rechromed bumper found its way onto the nose.
How is this for different? All four Sony amps and the RCI fuel cell are set out in the ope
Simplicity is how our fathers used to customize, and simplicity is exactly how this truck was built. On the floor of the cab is black carpet, and the two-tone seat is done in black and silver metalflake vinyl. More metalflake can be found in the steering wheel ring, and the auto trans shifter is booted with flake vinyl and topped with a skull handle. Stewart Warner gauges are era-correct and the only thing that would tip anyone off that the truck wasn't built by your dad is the killer stereo install. Minus the engine compartment, stereo equipment is everywhere. For starters, the band pass sub enclosure is behind the cab, and a tinted red plexiglass window offers a view of the four 12-inch Sony Xplod speakers. In the rear of the bed, all four Sony Xplod amplifiers share space with and flank the RCI fuel tank, all of which were painted and striped to match the truck's scheme. More of Sony's Xplod speakers reside in custom kick panels, while a Sony CD head unit was sourced to lead the pack.
The truck's completion marked a new checkbox in the Syndicate crew's abilities. A quick trip to their website displays a blend of old- and new-school vehicles, with everything from Detroit steel to exotic overseas imports. Built with a magic we don't see much of anymore, Cliff and the crew of Syndicate hit the ball out of the park with this cool Ford truck-rod. Simplicity that speaks volumes about what is cool.