In the smash '00 box-office hit Gone in 60 Seconds, a dialogue takes place where Donny says Eleanor, a '67 Shelby GT500, is "Memphis' unicorn, a fable creature; you know, the horse with the horn impossible to capture." For many of us custom car and truck guys, our own unicorns are never captured and our dreams never come to fruition. Money, family, and time are all reasonable excuses for our dream cars and trucks to build up in our heads and not in our garages. When it came time for James Crowder to build one of his dreams, he went for it head first and the end result is a super-clean '61 Ford F-100 Unibody unicorn.
Having already cut his teeth on '53-'56 F-100s years earlier, James was aware of the time, dedication, and money it would take him to create a rare and unique ride. Parts are available for the '61-'63 Unibody Fords, but they are by no means on every street corner like the older '50s-era Fords. Because of this, James did much of the work himself, including the suspension. Up front, custom 2-inch lower and upper A-arms were fabbed up, along with the addition of front disc brakes, Gabriel shocks, and new torsions. Out back, rear leafs that were flipped under the axle drop the rear, and matching 17-inch Boyd Stingray billet wheels fill each corner with Sumitomo tires wrapping each hoop.
James also moved the gas tank and notched the bed floor to clear the Ford 9-inch rear. Powering the Unibody Ford is a 351ci Windsor V-8 built by Gene Copeland of Cohage Hills, Illinois. Gene added the Pete Jackson gear drive, Edelbrock intake, carb, Lunati cam, and Hedman Hedders. The trick-looking intake is a homemade induction system that adds a new era to the engine compartment. A C-6 tranny with shift kit sends the torque to the rear wheels via a cut-down driveshaft and Flowmaster mufflers provide the rumble.
Taking a look at the one-piece body, the all-steel cab received dozens of hours of bodywork to straighten, smooth, and shave the door handles, gas door, drip rails, and emblems. Up front, the bumper was cut 5 inches and moved in closer to the body to give a streamlined look. A steel bed cover was built and the rear bumper/roll pan now provides the perfect exit location for the exhaust tips. James is also responsible for the brilliant PPG paintjob. Using Sunset Orange and Silver, James applied the two tone, then mixed the oranges to create a cool new color for the flames. Breaking into three different colors, the flames overlap each other and then take off to the rear to separate the two tones. All in all, the body looks awesome.
Inside the shaved doors, James once again had a hand in the build process. Creating the inner door panels and handles, the doors look nice and clean. Kevin's Upholstery shop in Rosewood, Illinois, wrapped the stock seats and headliner in leather. A Hurricane air-conditioning system was installed, and the tilt steering column was topped with a LeCarra steering wheel. There was no need for a stereo, as James has the rumble of a built 351ci.
Attaining his dream of building something different that everyone could admire was a nearly two-year journey. However, it was worth every minute and dime he spent, and James can now ride off in his own Eleanor.