Ultra-High-Performance Blended With Luxury Components
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.