Eeverybody remembers the story of the ugly duckling. An odd duck is hatched and not well received from the other animals, until one day he turns into a graceful swan and shows them all his true colors. In a sense, the Ford F-1 pickups from ’48-’52 seemed to fall into that category. Being the first generation of “real” trucks not designed off the earlier car platform, the design has failed to capture the hearts of classic truck enthusiasts like its better looking ’53-’56 brothers. As is the case with many customs, the right truck comes along and shows off the beauty of an odd duck, immediately setting off a chain reaction of similar models being built. To say Ray Corn’s ’51 F-1 follows the story of the ugly duckling’s transformation is a major understatement.

Tony Henehan and Classic Cars of Danbury helped Ray find his new project by locating the truck as an abandoned project for sale. With a deal struck between Ray and the F-1’s previous owner, no time was wasted in tearing apart the old iron and getting down to business. Since beauty is more than skin-deep, the truck needed a pretty serious undercarriage to allow this swan to fly. Beginning with the factory frame, Tony plated and boxed the rails before fitting it with a TCI Mustang II front suspension with QA1 coilovers. Out back, another pair of QA1s and a four-link with Panhard bar locate the Ford 9-inch filled with 3.73 gears. Filling the Ford’s rolling fenders is a set of 18x8 and 20x15 Intro Twisted Matrix wheels shod in Mickey Thompson rubber. The meaty rears measure out to a fender busting 29x18R20. Braking duties are performed by Aerospace Components four-wheel discs actuated by a Hydroboost setup.

We’re sure that die-hard Blue Oval fans would love to see the original Flathead under the hood, but it wasn’t in the cards. Feeding Ray’s thirst for power is a Street and Performance built crate engine from GM Performance. The fuel-injected Ram Jet features a fully polished and chromed intake with plenty of additional shine provided by the billet serpentine belt conversion and braided cables from Lokar. Custom valve covers let onlookers know that this big-block is not lacking in displacement. Delivering the claimed 510 hp back through the chain is a built GM 700-R4 automatic transmission shifted courtesy of a Lokar stick. Street and Performance ceramic-coated headers expel MSD ignited roar out a pair of Flowmaster mufflers.

Upon glancing at the classic F-1, it’s very apparent that plenty of hours were spent on fit and finish of the truck’s outer skin. Tony pulled the cab’s roof down 2¾ inches for a better profile, shaved the firewall, custom made the front and rear rollpans, and fit every body gap to his perfection. The bed is a Mar-K piece and the taillights were shaved in favor of brighter LEDs flanking the frenched license plate box. With the sheetmetal straight and the chassis built, everything was taken apart and dropped in the capable hands of Robert Mesa at Alamo Custom and Collision in Alvin, Texas. Once there, the dripping wet Candy Brandywine was applied over every inch of the straightened sheetmetal, boxed frame, transmission, and smoothed engine block. Ghost flames on the truck’s nose add the perfect amount of hot rod appeal, and anything that wasn’t painted was fully polished or dipped in chrome.

Creature comforts inside the cab are on par with the rest of the Ford’s customizing. Shawn Cook and Cook’s Auto Top and Trim in Murphy, Texas, put together a custom set of seats and door panels slathered in oyster leather with ostrich highlights. Classic Instruments’ gauges monitor the vitals and are visible through the Billet Specialties steering wheel topping the polished billet steering column. Being a Texas truck means heat is an issue. To combat the rising summer temperatures and keeping Ray cool is a Vintage Air A/C unit. With the cold air blowing in, Ray can play his favorite cruising tunes through the full Alpine stereo system.

Having taken the ugly duckling and turned it into a beautiful Candy Brandywine swan, Ray has been showing off all the hard work every chance he gets. Providing backing to his truck’s transformation, and all the hard work that went into it, are 15 Best of Show trophies garnered from more than 30 shows so far. If it were not for the efforts of Tony to help Ray see his vision to life, this old truck could have languished in project purgatory for a very long time. As it stands to reason, Ray’s Ford F-1 and the paintwork of Alamo Custom and Collision will hopefully be turning heads and garnering accolades for years to come. This truck is proof positive that following the mainstream truck trends isn’t the only way to the top.