Manuel Cardoza of Pacific Grove, California, has always been a fan of Ford F-1 trucks. Actually, he's had one for nearly 20 years, which he drives on a regular basis. When talking to a friend in January of 2001, Manuel explained what he'd do differently if he ever built another one. His friend, also an F-1 fan, happened to have the remnants of a '49 F-1 he'd bought for parts, and gave Manuel the cab. Having been retired for eight years, Manuel was in the market for a project, so he set about to make his custom F-1 a reality.

In time, the other pieces began to come together, and Manuel began working on the frame. Up front, a '78 Camaro subframe was grafted onto the Ford frame, but every other piece of the chassis and drivetrain came from a donor, an '86 Lincoln Mark VII, since Manuel wanted to use as many Ford parts as possible. The Lincoln's 8.8-inch rear was mounted to a custom four-link that Manuel fabricated himself. He also boxed the frame for strength and shortened it to fit.

Powering the Ford is Lincoln's 302 HO engine that was bored .060 over and rebuilt with a Lunati 223-degree duration cam, Holley aluminum heads, and a Holley SysteMax intake. The exhaust was routed through the factory tubular manifolds, into 2-1/2-inch pipe and a Borla muffler. Power travels through the Lincoln's AOD transmission and a driveshaft that was shortened by Peninusla Truck in Salinas, California. The painted intake matches the firewall, fan shroud, and engine bay, while the rest of the engine is dressed in black and brushed metal.

Inside the cab, Manuel shaved the dash and added a center console to hold controls for the Vintage Air A/C system. The only fixture on the dash is the wood-surrounded trio of Class Instruments gauges. With no room on the dash for the stereo, a Pioneer head unit was mounted against the rear cab wall. Steering chores are handled with a Grant banjo-style steering wheel, which was mounted onto a '61 Thunderbird steering column that pivots to the side for easy entry and exit from the cab. Norman Laylov added the wood trim in the cab. The final touches to the interior came from Aleandro Rivera, who wrapped bucket seats, which were pirated from a Mitsubishi, in tan leather. The headliner, center console, and door panels all got the leather treatment, as well.

There's no question that the interior looks great, but the real ingenuity came when Manuel began slicing and dicing on the cab. He'd planned to chop the top, but didn't want to feel confined in a tiny cab, so the back window was dropped down to keep it's full size. To keep the cab comfortable for long cruises, Manuel stretched it 6 inches, which made up for the room lost when the cab was sectioned and channeled over the frame. The fabrication didn't end there, however. The bed was shortened by nearly a foot, and Manuel built hinges to suicide the doors and reverse-tilt the hood. With the heavily-modified body nearly ready for paint, the vast expanse of the front fenders seemed to be missing something. After scouring a junkyard looking for pieces that would remedy the situation, Manuel came across marker lights from a '98 Acura that, once flipped side for side, fit the contours perfectly. After the rear fenders were fitted with '63 Corvette taillights, Jerry Graham Auto Body in Monterey took over. The entire truck was sprayed with House of Kolor Lime Time Green and the clear was buffed to a sheen. Once everything was back from the paint shop, Manuel's son, Joe, helped him get everything reassembled into the truck.

Manuel's goal was to build a highly customized truck that still left no doubt as to its origin. We'd say he hit his mark head on. The lines of the F-1 are still there, but flow much better than any '49 that rolled off the assembly line. By the help from his son and the work of some talented Central California craftsmen, Manuel's six-year build is certainly something to be proud of.

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