When Rick Kirk of Ripley, Oklahoma, purchased this '61 Econoline 100 pickup back in 1969, he had a specific purpose in mind for it: towing his '63 Galaxie around the drag circuit. It definitely wasn't intended to be used as a show vehicle for a car audio firm. But 25 years later, the experts at Kicker car audio poured their talents into transforming this classic Pug. The Kicker folks saw the potential for a unique vehicle that could showcase Kicker's audio components. After "Kicking" the idea around for a while, the concept became a reality.
The resurrection of Rick's E-100 pickup started with its foundation: the suspension. To make it unique, an independent rear suspension was pulled from a Lincoln Mark VIII. The subframe suspension pickup points were moved around to accommodate the mounting points in the rear of the pickup. Because Econolines of that era were built of unibody construction, there was nothing solid to mount the rear suspension to. The crew at RK Machine designed and fabricated a complete chassis from 2x4-inch rectangular tubing to mate into the unibody structure, creating a solid foundation to interface the suspension pickup points and brackets.
The unique center steering features a Flaming River steering column that is linked to the polished rack-and-pinion steering unit. The Chris Alston front coilover shocks were replaced with Air Ride Technologies' Ride Pro system with Shock Wave pneumatic springs. A Ride Pro four-way switch control panel activates the air valve, solenoid manifold that coordinates the pneumatic action from the five-gallon air tank fed by the dual compressors. The rearend housing is from a Lincoln Mark VIII stuffed with an 8.8 ring-and-pinion with a 3:23.1 gear ratio.
To get the simple rolling style of the '60s, Rick used a set of Wheel Vintiques, 18x8-inch in the front and 20x10-inch (prototypes) Billet Smoothies at the rear, with '41 Ford hubcaps. The wheel centers were painted to match the body and the outer rims were kept polished. Toyo Proxes P225/35ZR18 front and P255/35ZR20 rear are used on all four wheels; the wheel and tire combo contributes to Pug's timeless newstalgic appearance.
A '98 Ford Mustang Cobra 4.6L 32-valve V-8 DOHC engine flows maximum air/fuel to the healthy Vortech blower that produces 7-9 pounds of boost. A 15-gallon Fuel Safe fuel cell supplies and circulates fuel to the engine through a Vortech filter and high-volume fuel pump. The fuel return is controlled by the Vortech fuel management unit. The technicians at K.C. Auto in Tulsa, Oklahoma, made a house call to handle the initial engine management analysis and to help get the mighty Cobra engine fired and running. Superchips Custom Tuning supplied the Xcalibrator custom programming system, Raptor data logger, and some personalized help in getting the fuel and ignition mapping system dialed in. A custom Griffin Thermal Products four-row, NASCAR-style aluminum radiator and Vintage Air 16-inch puller fan keeps the mighty Cobra cool. The Cobra engine was delivered from Ford complete with engine mounts, exhaust, accessories, catalytic converters, clutch, and manual transmission. But, because of the engine's location and installation, custom headers had to be built. David at the Kar Shoppe in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, fabricated the flawless headers. These sculpted one-off headers fit precisely between the chassis and the bed. The Kar Shoppe custom headers draw the burnt exhaust gases from individual cylinder exhaust ports then flow into a pair of 40 Series Delta Flow Flowmaster muffs. After the exhaust components were fitted, they were sent out to get High Performance Coatings.
To eliminate any transmission linkage hang-ups caused by the tight shifter linkage and transmission quarters, a TCI C4 transmission was fitted with a LoKar 6-inch shifter and 12-foot Bowden cable, allowing remote activation of the shifting function, which hooks up to the TCI Street Fighter converter. The driveshaft was eliminated because the engine was moved as far back as possible, linking the transmission output shaft directly to the rearend's third-member pinion shaft. A lightweight TCI Kevlar bellhousing was also installed to eliminate any unfortunate surprises.
Eric French, owner of Wicked Racing and Customs in Stillwater, Oklahoma, was responsible for the flawless exterior body mods. He started by shaving and filling the tailgate, door handles, bed pockets, gas filler, emblems, and bumper mount locations. The doors were pulled and transformed into their current suicide state. To accommodate the larger wheels and tires, the front wheelwells were stretched 2 inches. The old paint was removed, and all cab and bed surfaces were straightened, filled, block-sanded, and smoothed. A couple of coats of primer were put on, and more block-sanding was performed to get every blemish and flaw out of the surface. DuPont Ford Sonic Blue Pearl and Super Bright White Pearl were sprayed to the paint scheme. After the colors were sprayed, endless coats of clear were applied after ample cure time. A custom billet grille was designed and fabricated by the folks at Trenz and installed. A pair of Hella H4 headlights was installed over the stock turn indicators. Ironically, a rare pair of N.O.S. headlight trim rings were found and installed just before the SEMA Show.
The stock dashboard was cut out of the cab, and a new one was designed and constructed out of medium density fiberboard (MDF) and fiberglass. The most drastic change of the interior was the relocation of the driver's seating position to the center of the cab. A Classic Instruments gauge cluster and Flaming River tilt steering column with Billet Specialties steering wheel. The gauges and other dash accessories were connected to the American Autowire fuse box and wiring harness. A sports car driver-side bucket seat with serious lateral bolsters was rebuilt, then upholstered in gray and blue cloth. It's flanked by a pair of jump seats covered and stitched by the team at Colin Auto Trim in Stillwater, Oklahoma, who are also credited for all of the interior stitchwork: the seats, headliner, door panels, and carpet.
This '61 Ford E-100 pickup will be used to showcase Kicker's latest audio components and accessories. Toby Lewis and his dedicated crew, John Meyers, Randy Botts, and Sean Murphy, thrashed for many months on the project to make sure Kicker's reputation for excellence was upheld.
Before installing the components, Dynamat Extreme sound damping material was applied to the metal panels and surfaces you can't see, and Auto Definitions applied a spray-on coating to all the panels you can see. The custom dashboard houses two sets of Kicker top-of-the-line SS65.2 mids and tweeters. Behind the center-mounted driver seat is a custom Lexan doghouse encasing the engine. On each side of the doghouse is a Kicker 12-inch SoloX subwoofer mounted into a 2-1/4-cubic-foot, sealed enclosure constructed from MDF and fiberglass. The custom enclosures make up the headrests of the two jump seats that flank the driver seat. The headliner houses the majority of the electronics for the stereo system. A custom fiberglass tub supports the Clarion DXZ 945 AM/FM/MP3/CD player, a Clarion XS735 DVD player, two Kicker KQ 30-30 band equalizers, two SX400.2 and one SX600.2 amplifiers, and a Kicker SXRC remote programmer controlling all the amps. Two 10.4-inch Clarion OHM102 video monitors add to the overall entertainment package.
What about the excitement in the bed? A split tonneau cover was built to fit by Checker Products, and with the push of a button, the cover is raised and lowered by Autoloc electric actuators. With the tonneau cover raised, you can see four massive Kicker KX2500.1 amplifiers that produce 10,000 total watts to the two subwoofers in the cab. Another set of Kicker SS65.2 component speakers provide the sound track to the third video monitor mounted in the bed's rear. LED bars illuminate the clear plexi-glass used as the amp rack. Located under the amp rack are a five-gallon Air Ride Technologies air tank and dual compressors. The audio and visual entertainment is powered by incorporating four Optima Yellow Top batteries in a custom rack located next to the transmission under the bed. When the electrical system is not being charged by the engine, the dual Cascade Audio power supplies can be plugged into a 110-volt wall outlet.
When Rick purchased this '61 Ford E-100, he had no idea it would end up showcasing Kicker's audio components and accessories at SEMA and CES. The ol' Pug has come a long way in its lifetime.