Sixty-year-old Tim Horn of Shreveport, Louisiana, smiles as he tells us, "This F-100 is my first custom vehicle and I built it because it's been a lifelong dream." He should be smiling because what started out as a '54 Ford farm truck turned into a five-year project that he and his son, in partnership with River Cities Rods and Customs, built into a showstopping Blue Oval with hundreds of mods.
Exchanging $2,000 for the F-100's pink slip back in May of '05, Tim and his son Bart, had themselves a project that needed serious attention. Looking at the foundation, the Horn father and son combo boxed the framerails with ¼-inch steel and added a TCI Mustang II front crossmember with spindles and brakes. River Cities Rods and Customs then stepped in and bolted on Ride Tech airbags to the front and rear, providing the Horn family with plenty of adjustability for a nice ride. A sturdy rearend was needed for the stout powerplant that was planned, and a narrowed Ford 9-inch with Ride Tech 4-Bar with Panhard bar keeps the power planted and straight. Billet Specialities' 15-inch GTX-35 billet wheels are wrapped in Mastercraft tires up front, while chubby 18-inch-wide Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR Radials provide three feet of rubber out back.
Veering away from the easy small-block Chevy swap, Tim wanted Ford big-block power under his hood and found Roger Haynes of Haynes Hot Rods, to build him a monster. Using a '71 Lincoln Mark III as a donor, the 460ci engine, trans, and rearend were the starting points. Roger punched out the big-block to 520ci and added a forged crank, SoCal camshaft, and aluminum heads. Street and Performance block-hugger headers send the spent gases to 3-inch Magnaflow mufflers. ARP hex fasteners keep the entire engine rock-solid and looking good. Dress-up items include a Billet Specialties' True Trac billet serpentine setup, chrome Ford Racing valve covers, and painted Edelbrock intake manifold. With the Holley double-pumper flowing fuel to the cylinders, the Blue Oval churns out 550 hp and nearly 600 lb-ft of torque. That kind of power makes Tim's old Ford farm truck more like a new rocket ship when he punches the throttle. The Lincoln's C6 trans was rebuilt and beefed up, as was the narrowed 9-inch rearend with 3.89 gears. Riding around town with plenty of power was as easy as firing up the ol' Ford, but Tim and Bart wanted a genuine custom.
Making the truck have that all important hot-rod look, Tim mapped out a long list of body mods he desired. Making the decision to give bodywork a go, Tim and Bart chopped the top 4 inches and then sat out on the journey to find the right sized windshield. Handing the keys off to the talented builders at River Cities Rods and Customs, Phillip Morgan spear-headed the mods by suiciding both doors, pie-cutting and pancaking the hood, welding in roll pans to replace the front and rear bumpers, and shaving the door handles and cowl vents. Each door corner was rounded off for a cleaner look, which perfectly complements the fabricated running boards, and fiberglass rear fenders. After ensuring the body was arrow-straight, Phillip loaded his paintgun with DuPont Hot Hues Psycho Silver and applied the basecoat, followed by several layers of Molten Orange. Heavily ghosted flames were added to the hood and front fenders and are barely noticeable until the sun hits them just right. Final touches included adding the tri-bar headlights, billet LED taillights, and billet hot rod mirrors. Seeing a trick paint mod in a magazine years ago, Tim installed a sheet of 3/8-inch aluminum in the bed that was massaged with grinders, airbrushed on, and then candied over. The look is both trick and classy.
Billet, leather, and wool carpet will never go out of style.
Moving inside, River Cities Rods and Customs added luxurious textures to every nook and cranny. Oldsmobile Avalon seats were cut down and wrapped in Golden Fawn Ultra leather, as was the headliner, and custom door panels. A smoothed and painted dash houses Dakota Digital gauges, billet A/C vents, and serves as the mounting point for the ididit steering column capped with a banjo steering wheel. Brown wool Mercedes Benz carpet provides the backdrop for the custom center console with a shift lever from an '07 F-150. By incorporating the F-100's front gear and lightning bolt emblem to the center console and the late-model shifter lever, Tim managed to pay tribute to Ford's lineage of custom trucks.
If Tim and Bart have a bucket list, they can check off the line that says, "Build an awesome hot rod classic truck," because this '54 F-100 is a great-looking custom with an even better story. Time spent with our loved ones can't be taken for granted, and when something as cool as the Horn's Ford comes out of that labor of love, it's like having a little heaven on earth.