BLOWN FIFTY-SICKX

Ul­tra-High-Per­for­mance Blended With Lux­ury Com­po­nents

Street Trucks - - CONTENTS - TEXT AND PHOTOS BY JOE GREEVES

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ANX­IOUS TO SEE YOUR RIDE FI­NALLY COM­PLETE? There is an old say­ing that was prob­a­bly coined by an over­worked crafts­man to pla­cate an ea­ger cus­tomer. It sug­gests that you can’t hurry great art. Paul Valera, a re­tired auto parts dis­trib­u­tor liv­ing in Jack­sonville, Florida, un­der­stands the con­cept well.

Fas­ci­nated with the looks of Ford’s iconic F-100, Paul bought his truck back in 1984. To say it was in rough con­di­tion would be an un­der­state­ment since he had to add linoleum to the floor­boards to keep his young son from fall­ing through! With the help of some tal­ented crafts­men and Paul’s check-writ­ing abil­ity, the truck be­came a magazine fea­ture ve­hi­cle back in 2007. The next old say­ing that might be ap­pro­pri­ate here is be care­ful what you wish for. The suc­cess of the truck and the no­to­ri­ety it achieved be­came the mo­ti­va­tion for Paul to take his al­ready cool F-100 to the next level.

Given the right amount of time, tal­ent and cash, al­most any­one can cre­ate a mod­ern fea­ture ve­hi­cle, but Paul wanted con­sid­er­ably more than that. His goal was to el­e­vate Ford’s ven­er­a­ble F-100 to world-class sta­tus, and he be­gan with the help of Paul Hol­man, tal­ented air­brush artist and owner of Vis­ual FX in Saint Au­gus­tine, Florida. Hol­man has been in­volved with the cre­ation of hun­dreds of tro­phy-win­ning ve­hi­cles through­out the years, with “years” be­ing the op­er­a­tive word here. In fact, the scope of the changes added to Paul’s truck would ac­tu­ally take eight years to reach com­ple­tion.

Be­gin­ning the sec­ond ma­jor makeover, Cur­tis Ford from Vis­ual FX com­pletely dis­as­sem­bled the truck and in­stalled a new Fat Man Fabri­ca­tions frame and sus­pen­sion com­bi­na­tion along with a Ride Tech airbag setup. Mus­tang II ge­om­e­try and drop spin­dles up front com­bine with a rear step notch and chromed 4-link that holds a nar­rowed Fab 9 rear. Bon­speed Wild Thang wheels, 20x9 in front and huge 20x16s in the rear, filled the wheel wells and con­trib­uted to the truck’s low pro­file. The BFG G-force T/A ra­di­als up front (255-35/ZR20) and the fat Mickey Thomp­sons (31x18) in the rear es­tab­lished au­tocross-level han­dling and pro­tour­ing com­fort. As you may have guessed by now, hav­ing the best of both worlds was one of the guid­ing prin­ci­ples through­out the con­struc­tion process.

The old 454 was re­placed with the cur­rent Mer­lin big block 540-ci all-alu­minum V-8. Built by Ohio Crank in Greenville,

Ohio, and tuned by Tony Gonyon from Tuners Inc. in Or­ange Park, Florida, the awe­some en­gine is ca­pa­ble of more than 1,200 hp with 12 to 14 pounds of boost. The high-strength in­ter­nals be­gin with a forged crank, H-beam rods and JE pis­tons mov­ing in­side a 4.50 bore with a 4.25 stroke. Edel­brock alu­minum heads ex­pe­dite the air flow from the twin Hol­ley 750s on the pol­ished 671 Weiand blower. Cur­rently set up with a streets­mart 8 pounds of boost, the pres­sur­ized fuel/air mix is ig­nited by an MSD elec­tronic ig­ni­tion, cre­at­ing a thor­oughly sat­is­fy­ing (and tire-fry­ing) 880 hp. Cus­tom-built, Jet-hot-coated head­ers ne­go­ti­ate the tight con­fines of the en­gine com­part­ment, chan­nel­ing spent gasses to the at­mos­phere through a pol­ished stain­less sys­tem with Mag­naflow muf­flers and side-ex­it­ing pipes.

With all of the artistry in­volved in cre­at­ing the unique chas­sis and pow­er­train, hid­ing the up­grades would bor­der on the crim­i­nal. Us­ing lin­ear ac­tu­a­tors, the tilt­for­ward hood rises in one di­rec­tion and the bed rises in another, giv­ing spec­ta­tors a chance to view the highly de­tailed mo­tor and sus­pen­sion. With the hood and bed back in driv­ing po­si­tion,

the lengthy list of mod­i­fi­ca­tions be­gins with the cab re­tain­ing the dis­tinc­tive ’56 wrap­around wind­shield but elim­i­nat­ing the vent win­dows in fa­vor of power­op­er­ated, sin­gle-pane side glass. Both doors were shaved, then sui­cided to show­case the new cus­tom in­te­rior.

Up front, the tilt-for­ward hood was cut to al­low clear­ance for the blower, ad­ver­tis­ing the power un­der the hood and giv­ing you sec­ond thoughts about chal­leng­ing this 60-year-old ride at a stop light. Head­lights were re­placed with HID ver­sions com­plete with turn sig­nals, Mercedes-style HID day­time run­ning lights were added, and LED marker lights were cut into all four fend­ers. The front bumper was trimmed and blended into both the body and pan. A unique V-8 em­blem, hand­fab­ri­cated from steel, ac­cents the chromed fac­tory grille.

The bed, long since freed from the chore of haul­ing cin­der blocks, uses a con­toured sheet steel floor, ar­tis­ti­cally ribbed with a die grinder to sim­u­late wood grain and high­lighted with a House of Kolor Candy Or­ange ap­plied with a wood- grain ef­fect. Or­ange run­ning board in­serts match the bed. Since the ul­tra-wide rear tires al­most qual­ify for sep­a­rate ZIP codes, the in­ner fender pan­els are ac­tu­ally fac­tory rear fend­ers that were re­versed and trimmed to fit. The unique tail­gate has a painted-to-match Plex­i­glas in­sert that blends in seam­lessly with the body sheet metal but con­ceals the four Halo tail­lights and full-width LED brake light. A third brake light was cut into the cab. Twin air com­pres­sors for the Ride Tech air sus­pen­sion, dual Kinetik batteries and the truck’s mas­ter cylin­der were hid­den within the frame rails along with the com­po­nents for the Vin­tage Air.

As you might ex­pect, the in­te­rior is also com­pletely new and another gen­uine work of art. The bone-col­ored, suede-cov­ered dash is filled with a col­lec­tion of re­worked Auto Me­ter gauges and flows smoothly into the doors. The new cen­ter con­sole sep­a­rates the re­uphol­stered Jeep Wran­gler buck­ets and holds the Lokar shifter, AC con­trols and stereo. Fill­ing the cab with con­cert-level sounds, the Alpine head unit

con­trols the JL Au­dio amps be­hind the seats, send­ing power to the head­lin­er­mounted tweets, 5.25-inch coax­i­als in the door pan­els, and the 6x9s on the front of both bucket seats. Two 13-inch subs be­hind the seats round out the sys­tem, and LED light­ing high­lights all of the elec­tron­ics for a night­time dis­play.

Vis­ual FX’S Cur­tis was again the artist in charge, tak­ing the lead through­out the build, han­dling the metal fab­ri­ca­tion and cre­at­ing the amaz­ing in­te­rior and sound sys­tem. The fi­nal step was paint, with Hol­man spray­ing a cus­tom shade of BASF Glasurit Blue Pearl that Paul has nick­named “Rolex Blue.” The build was one of the most elab­o­rate ever ac­com­plished by Vis­ual FX, and the team helped Paul check off an item that had long been on his bucket list. A big fan of the F-100 Su­per­na­tion­als in Pi­geon Forge, Paul al­ways wanted to at­tend and would have been happy just be­ing there. In fact, the truck’s ini­tial out­ing did bet­ter than that, cap­tur­ing the cov­eted Truck of the Year award, com­pet­ing against more than 700 other beau­ti­fully cus­tom­ized ve­hi­cles. Paul is look­ing for­ward to cam­paign­ing his award­win­ning F-100 at lo­cal shows for quite some time in the fu­ture. What’s the last old proverb that might ap­ply here? All good things come to he who waits.

VIR­TU­ALLY NOTH­ING OF THE ORIG­I­NAL F-100 IN­TE­RIOR RE­MAINS. NEW BONE-COL­ORED SUEDE BUCK­ETS, WA­TER­FALL CEN­TER CON­SOLE, RECONTOURED DASH, AUTO ME­TER

GAUGE PACK­AGE AND ELAB­O­RATE ALPINE/JL AU­DIO STEREO TRANS­PORT THE 60-YEAR-OLD TRUCK SOLIDLY INTO THE NEW MIL­LEN­NIUM.

BELOW. THE HIGHLY POL­ISHED SCOOP POKING THROUGH THE HOOD LETS YOU KNOW THERE IS SOME­THING AWE­SOME UN­DER­NEATH. THE SU­PER­CHARGED MER­LIN 540-CI ALLALUMINUM V-8 SENDS A PAVE­MENT-MELTING 880 HP TO THE TURBO TH400 THREE-SPEED AUTO. JUDICIOUS USE OF THE THROT­TLE IS RE­QUIRED OR REAR TIRES DON’T LAST LONG.

ABOVE. THE TILT-BED MECH­A­NISM WAS NEVER IN­TENDED TO MAKE IT EASY TO DUMP CIN­DER BLOCKS; RATHER IT’S TO SHOW­CASE THE BEAU­TI­FUL GLASURIT CANDY OR­ANGE WOODGRAIN PAINT OVER A SHEET STEEL FLOOR, COU­PLED WITH CUS­TOM IN­NER FENDER PAN­ELS.

WITH THE TILT BED RAISED, THE DE­TAILS OF THE HIGHLY EN­GI­NEERED FAT MAN FAB­RI­CA­TION CHAS­SIS BE­COME OB­VI­OUS. THE AL­STON FAB 9 REAR IS HELD IN PLACE WITH A POL­ISHED 4-LINK AND CLEARS THE CHAS­SIS WITH A CUS­TOM STEP NOTCH. THE RIDE

TECH AIR SUS­PEN­SION WITH SHOCK­WAVES IS CON­TROLLED BY A DAKOTA DIGITAL AIR RIDE CON­TROLLER WITH TWIN KINETIKS PRO­VID­ING POWER.

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