Despite the sand quickly sifting through the hourglass, this '56 Ford F-100 seemingly takes one man back 50-plus years to an era where he and his young bride Bev rode around in a mildly-customized V-8 Ford truck. Hands on the steering wheel and throttle wide-open, memories flash by like the white lines on the pavement. This is the story of an old man and his truck.
Years of tinkering with hot rods, Mercury leadsleds, and even Tri-Five Chevy cars, Bob "Hoot" Gibson, from Phoenix, always felt a certain affinity for the '56 F-100 and patiently waited for the day when he could begin his dream project. Starting up a '53-'56 F-100 parts business, Hoot finally came across a Ford longbed and snatched it up to make it his own. Talking about that day, he told us, "At last I was back to the real deal fat-fendered 1956 F-100." Working on it slowly but surely, the old Ford turned into a credible daily driver, but never reached its full potential. After the kids were grown and his lifetime of service as a firefighter were over, Hoot began to see his dream come to fruition when he opened his wife's Christmas present in 1998 and found an ididit tilt steering column for his Ford. He fondly remembers that day; "I was inclined to tear the F-100 apart."
A snowball effect quickly took over the steaming Arizona heat as Hoot tore into his daily driver and began to build one of the nation's nicest Fords. Supporting the cab is a Walton Fabrication shortbed chassis, complete with a TCI independent front suspension and Kugel/Winters quick-change rear suspension. The fully-independent rear suspension features inboard disc brakes, adjustable Aldan/Eibach coilovers, and a 3.73 Winters ring and pinion. Every piece of both suspensions were chromed before assembly and the Walton Fabrication frame was powdercoated gloss metallic steel grey to keep the look of elegance. Each spindle was custom machined to accept the real Halibrand knock-off magnesium 15x8 1/2-inch wheels. Those rare hoops are wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires and when cruising, the truck rides and handles just like Hoot had always dreamed of. With a solid foundation for any hot rod in place, Hoot teamed with his son Wayne to make the F-100 glisten in the desert sunshine.
Using his daughter Cheryl's extra-large garage as a workshop, Hoot and Wayne began getting the Ford ready for paint. Up front, the Gibson guys made custom inner fender panels, added the Pro's Pick fiberglass bedsides and tonneau cover, moved the bed forward to close up the bed/cab gap, added smoothed running boards and converted the hood to forward-tilting. Finishing off the body modifications, the father and son duo made the windows one-piece, removed the cowl vent, filled all bolt holes and cab seams, and brought the front bumper closer to the body. After converting the garage to a paint booth, Wayne sprayed the DuPont ChromaBase basecoat and then laid down the 2004 Chrysler Cool Vanilla and 1956 Packard Naples Orange to the ol' Ford. Wayne used his sign lettering talent and applied the silver leaf striping, Ford F-100 logo, and "Never Good Enuff" lettering. With the paint cut and buffed, Wayne and Hoot installed the clear Lexan bed floor to show off the incredible attention to detail paid on the suspension. Hoot's '56 F-100 was really coming together, but a nice chassis and nice paint weren't the only things he wanted to have stand out.
Hoot's son Wayne used his sign lettering talent to add "Never Good Enuff" on the front and
A Lexan bed floor allows onlookers to enjoy the immaculate suspension and detail paid to e
Real knock-off Halibrand wheels roll on custom-machined spindles and each hoop is wrapped
Before working on an interior scheme, Hoot and Wayne went ahead and filled the glovebox, ashtray, and fresh air vent. The dash was nice and smooth, but neither Gibson man could stitch a lick. Teaming up with Armando's Custom Upholstery, in San Jacinto, California, Hoot described what he wanted and put his faith in the talented fabricators. A few months later, Hoot was impressed to see light cream leather-covered '96 Cadillac power seats, tan Mercedes square weave carpet, cream leather headliner with CD player, and beautifully-crafted tan leather door and kick panels. A Billet Specialties steering wheel capped off the now-famous ididit tilt column. Vintage Air A/C keeps the cab cool, and Autometer gauges provide the engine's vitals. Speaking of engines, Hoot's Ford doesn't disappoint.
Finding a Ford in a Ford can oftentimes be a difficult task, but when this F-100 has its hood tilted forward, the Blue Oval faithful may just shed a tear. Buying a Ford Racing 351W block, Hoot went ahead and had it bored .030 over and stroked to 392 powerful Ford cubes. In went a Ford Racing Z303 Camzilla camshaft, roller rockers, and high-volume oil pump. Ported and polished aluminum Ford Racing heads were bolted on and fitted with immaculate fuel injection by Imagine Injection. Fitted with chromed S&S headers, a Ron Davis aluminum radiator complete with electric fan, and a Billet Specialties belt drive, Hoot's engine bay is stunning. Capping off the small-block Ford is a one-off air cleaner built by J&J Machine and designed after the lightning bolt and gear badge that came on this era Ford trucks. Backing up to the engine is a polished Ford AOD transmission built by Tony, at Hughes Performance. A Lokar shifter makes gear selection a breeze and an aluminum driveshaft was built by Inland Driveline to join the tranny and the Kugel/Winters quick change rearend. As Hoot told us, "everything that can be polished or chromed, has been." That includes several hundred custom-made washers with a beveled edge to give each bolt a finished look. It's this attention to detail that separates this old Ford from the run of-the-mill F-100.
Calling the decade-long project complete, Hoot and Wayne had built a consistent Best of Show winner. Telling us that his wife Bev would occasionally ask how much more the truck was going to cost, Hoot smiles and says he told her "Just another thousand honey." By the looks of this amazing truck, he told her that many, many times. Can you really put a price tag on one man's dream? Take a look at this final product and then answer that.
Thanking his family, especially Wayne and his son Larry for all of their help on the build, Hoot was quick to pull up a chair, grab a handful of peanut M&Ms and tell us about the story of an old man and his truck. "It all started about 1952..."
A custom-machined air cleaner was made to resemble the old lightning bolt and gear badge f
A stunning Ford 392ci small-block is fitted with the best of everything.