Hearing the phone ring, Ronnie Carter, of Dubberly, Louisiana, picked it up and was greeted by a familiar voice. "Hi Dad, why don't you drive over to Austin for the Lonestar Roundup. It would be good to see you," said his son Kyle. Arriving at Kyle's shop, KC Kustomz, in Austin, a wildly-custom ol' '51 Ford truck was parked out front with some very unique touches. Handing his father the keys to the one-off custom, a surprise four months in the making was finally let out of the bag. A shocked Ronnie had a hard time believing it was true and an even tougher time holding back his emotions. We often hear about a father's love for his son, but on that day, a father forever knew the love of his son. Forming a rock-strong bond, this custom truck would change Ronnie's life-this is the story of its creation.
Wanting to give his dad a great gift, Kyle tracked down Leroy Mixon, the owner of a '51 Ford cab. Hearing the reason for the build, Leroy willingly donated the cab and Kyle had himself a starting point. At his KC Kustomz shop, Kyle worked with Clint Brunson to hand-build a frame using a 4x10-foot sheet of 3/16-inch steel and a CNC plasma cutter. Clint boxed the frame together and Kyle added a '55 Chevy straight-axle from Billy Byrd, Chevy spindles, and Afco coilovers to create the front suspension. Out back, a Ford 8-inch is suspended by a custom two-link with a race-style Panhard bar and Afco coilovers. With the frame dialed in, Witt's Powdercoating stepped in and added the gold-colored protection. Wheels of choice are 15-inch Wheel Vintique Steelies and the tires are BFGoodrich Silvertown whitewalls. Wanting a powerplant that would give a kick in the pants, Kyle recruited Josh Danzy to de-stroke a '83 454ci big-block out of a Chevy truck. With the block bored .030 over and the new crankshaft and rods in place, the big-block was now 427ci. Combine the big cubes with ported and polished rectangular heads, a Comp .520 lift camshaft, and Speedway headers from a '55 Chevy passenger car, and the ol' '51 Ford had some real snap to it. When asked, Kyle told us, "it's fast." Good enough for us. Topping off the engine, an Edelbrock intake, Holley carb, and Hardin Marine valve covers add a marine feel. Jody Prince, of J&J Motorsports, built the driveshaft to connect the V-8 to the TH-350 transmission complete with a B&M shift kit and 3,000- rpm converter. Moving to the cab, Kyle still had some tricks up his sleeve.
Kyle started by chopping the top a full 6 inches, and after reflecting on the build, he told us, "It was the hardest task to do." The body was channeled some 3 inches before Witt's Powdercoating applied flat black powdercoat to the entire cab. Kyle applied the custom metallic gold lettering and striping on each door that pays homage to Ronnie's nickname-"Frog." Out back, a sheetmetal bed was fabricated out of 18-gauge steel and features bead-rolled accents, speed blisters holding the '38 Ford taillights, and a wood bed floor built by W.T. Randle. Needing a grille for the ol' Ford, Bear Mangrum donated a '31 Ford grille shell and Kyle built the sheetmetal insert with punched holes. Mooneyes headlights provide nighttime driving safety and a one-off firewall was built. Helping with the details and getting the truck assembled, Kurt Humphreys spent several late nights with Kyle in the shop. Wanting something truly unique for his dad's ride, he convinced Ronnie's neighbor, Joe Davis, to sneak over to Ronnie's shed and snatch up some old rod n' reels, antique fish bait, and even a worn-out outboard motor. Those pieces were permanently mounted to the wood bed floor and have onlookers pointing with shock when they first see them.
Inside, you won't find a radio, but you will find white vinyl-wrapped Nissan Pathfinder seats, complete with gold glitter, that were wrapped by Ray Miller. Mooneyes gauges can be seen through the '50 Chevy Deluxe steering wheel. Nostalgic products like Champion spark plugs, Quicksilver oil, and even Shakespeare tackle boxes can be found resting above the tan carpet. Ronnie is never left without the proper fishin' tools, thanks to several fishing lures mounted to a cork board and outlined in hot-rod pinstriping.
As a long-time oil field mechanic, Ronnie hasn't lived a pampered life. Kyle wrapped up his surprise for his dad best by saying, "I took a little bit of nothing and made something of it to change someone's life-it feels great to do something like that." We agree and we're sure Ronnie has an ear-to-ear smile every time he fires up his ol' truck and goes for a cruise.