SWITCH­BACK

The Other Clas­sic Amer­i­can Pickup

Street Trucks - - SWITCHBACK - TEXT BY JOHN MATA JR. PHO­TOS BY KEVIN AGUILAR AND LUKE MUNNELL

FEW THINGS ARE MORE SA­CRED TO A GUY THAN HIS TRUCK. One ex­cep­tion, though, is the ac­tual badge his truck wears. Brand loy­alty isn’t a new con­cept, and nei­ther is fam­ily tra­di­tion. Todd Wil­liams knows this first­hand be­cause his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther were true blue Ford en­thu­si­asts. The term “en­thu­si­ast” doesn’t even be­gin to de­scribe their pas­sion for any­thing bear­ing Fo­moco stamp­ing, as Todd is quick to point out. “These men that I grew up ad­mir­ing drove noth­ing but Ford trucks their en­tire lives. I am the third gen­er­a­tion of a very loyal Ford fam­ily.”

Be­fore our story goes any fur­ther, Todd re­vealed some­thing about him­self, “I ac­tu­ally started my teenage years as a diehard Chevy guy.” Let’s just al­low that to sink in for a sec­ond. What re­mains un­known is how Todd’s dad and gramps felt about this ini­tial splin­ter­ing of the fam­ily’s long­stand­ing Ford lin­eage.

THE PUSH FOR PER­FOR­MANCE TOOK A BACK SEAT TO RESTYLING, BUT IT WOULD SOON BE IN­TRO­DUCED TO THE DRIVER’S SAD­DLE IN A WAY NOT EVEN TODD WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PRE­DICT.”

Todd, who knew this juicy morsel of in­for­ma­tion would likely raise ques­tions, wanted to elab­o­rate, “when I was a ju­nior in high school, I loved the Chevy brand so much that I walked into the clos­est Chevy deal­er­ship … and told them that I would take any job they would give me. Even after I started at­tend­ing school at Ari­zona State—the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the col­ors of my F-100—I did the same thing. I walked into the near­est deal­er­ship and took what­ever gig was up for grabs.” Todd’s stint with the Chevy shop wasn’t just a tem­po­rary phase. He stayed with the sec­ond deal­er­ship for 15 years while he worked his way through the ranks of the sales and fi­nance de­part­ments.

Through­out his years as a self-pro­claimed Bow Tie boy, Todd had some pretty amaz­ing cars that he built to drive hard. “My first car was an 8-year-old 1978 Ca­maro Z/28. Turn­ing wrenches on this car taught me a lot about how an au­to­mo­bile re­ally works and how to make them go faster. My dad and I spent many years drag rac­ing to­gether. I drove, he fi­nanced, and we both wrenched. Our first real race car was a ’68 Chev­elle that ran low 12s. We sold that one and stepped it up to a ’57 big-win­dow Chevy step­side that ended up in Street Trucks back in ’06 fol­low­ing a photo shoot at Goodguys Del Mar.” Each one of these three Chevy ve­hi­cles is a dream ride in its own right and are more than ac­cept­able sub­sti­tu­tions for any­thing sport­ing a Ford badge. “I have al­ways been a truck guy,” Todd adds. “My dad was in the truck­ing busi­ness, so be­ing around them since I was old

enough to walk must have had some­thing to do with that.” This was the tran­si­tion pe­riod that would even­tu­ally bring Todd back home to his fam­ily’s pre­ferred maker of au­to­mo­biles, and all it re­ally took was some seat time be­hind the wheel of a Chevy pickup to pro­pel the move.

“I be­gan to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate tra­di­tional hot rods and hap­pened to take no­tice of the work of Ja­son Gra­ham in Port­land, Ten­nessee. I had picked up a ’30 Ford sedan at the time, and after hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate with Ja­son on the project, what we ended up do­ing was con­vert­ing it over to a five-win­dow pickup.” The gears were chang­ing as far as the type of eclec­tic ideas Todd was start­ing to dab­ble in at this point. The push for per­for­mance took a back seat to restyling, but it would soon be in­tro­duced to the driver sad­dle in a way not even Todd would have been able to pre­dict. “I was happy with Ja­son’s work, so I asked if he would want to build some­thing out­side the norm for a sec­ond go-around. I de­cided on do­ing an early ’60s uni-body, and spent the next year comb­ing the In­ter­net to find one. I fi­nally tracked one down on ebay, and my max bid of $3,500 was good enough to lock it down. I had ar­ranged ship­ping here to

Phoenix from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and when it fi­nally ar­rived, we were pleas­antly sur­prised after get­ting an up­close look at it.”

The truck’s orig­i­nal owner had passed away, but it had re­mained with the gen­tle­man’s fam­ily ever since. The main­te­nance re­port on it had some gaps, so nat­u­rally it would need a full tune-up to get it back on the road again.

“The great thing about this truck was the fact that it had never been dam­aged. In fact, [the body] turned out to be [in the best con­di­tion] any­body could ever ask for after it was cleaned up a bit. The truck was com­pletely stock, in­clud­ing the straight six un­der the hood.”

HE KNEW WHAT THE END RE­SULT WOULD BE LIKE, BUT HE HADN’T PRE­PARED HIM­SELF FOR EV­ERY­THING TO COME OUT MUCH BET­TER THAN HE EX­PECTED.”

It wasn’t too much longer after the truck had first ar­rived in Ari­zona, when Todd reached out to Nate Porter at Porterbuilt Fab­ri­ca­tion about com­ing up with a so­lu­tion to bring the truck closer to the pave­ment. “Nate had in­formed me that he was still in the de­sign process on the front and rear kits for early uni-body trucks. I waited pa­tiently, and he called as the first kits were rolling off the pro­duc­tion line. Nate was kind enough to ex­tend an in­vi­ta­tion for the truck to be dropped off at his shop so he could take care of the in­stal­la­tion him­self. Nate not only in­stalled the brand-new Porterbuilt

Fab Dropmember kits, but he mod­i­fied the ex­ist­ing frame to work bet­ter with the com­po­nents he de­signed es­pe­cially for this truck style. Nate Porter made pretty quick work of the F-100 sus­pen­sion. He has, in fact, turned cus­tom chassis fab­ri­ca­tion into a science.

The next or­der of busi­ness was get­ting the truck into

I KNEW THAT THE RIGHT GUYS AND GALS WERE IN­VOLVED WITH THE BUILD FROM THE BE­GIN­NING, SO THERE WAS NO QUES­TION THAT THE TRUCK WAS GO­ING TO END UP BE­ING KILLER.” —Todd Wil­liams

Ja­son Gra­ham’s hands once again, which wasn’t sim­ply a mat­ter of driv­ing across town. The two had to sched­ule a time for Ja­son to come to Ari­zona, and then haul it right back home to his shop space, which he was happy to do. While with Ja­son, the old Ford un­der­went a trans­for­ma­tion that some would not have be­lieved pos­si­ble. Ja­son’s a body-and-paint guy but he’s also handy with en­gine tun­ing so he and his crew were able to shape the F-100 to the specs of an hon­est-to-good­ness im­pec­ca­ble street rod. Not only does it look right, but the Ford Rac­ing 5.0L Coy­ote en­gine does its part to make Todd feel like he’s back on the strip. It was the most per­fect power part swap that could’ve been se­lected for this build.

From the time Todd pur­chased the truck, un­til it made its de­but at Detroit Au­torama in 2016, a to­tal of three years had passed. It may have been a bit longer than he would’ve liked to wait, but con­sid­er­ing the fi­nal prod­uct, it’s a won­der it all came to­gether like it did in only 36 months. “I stayed in con­tact with the fam­ily that orig­i­nally owned the truck so I could share the grand un­veil­ing,” Todd says. “The owner’s wife re­sponded to my email to tell me she thought it turned out great, although it re­ally wasn’t her style. Well, it’s ex­actly my style, and it’s a good feel­ing to be able to share the re­birth with them.”

From the first talks Todd had with Ja­son, he knew what the end re­sult would be like, but he hadn’t pre­pared him­self for ev­ery­thing to come out much bet­ter than he ex­pected. “I knew that the right guys and gals were in­volved with the build from the be­gin­ning, so there was no ques­tion that the truck was go­ing to end up be­ing killer … The only de­tail that Ja­son and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on was cut­ting the roof. I didn’t want it to look like it was chopped, but he went ahead with his plan, and in the end he was right—it came out per­fect.” Todd ex­panded his in­ter­est in cus­tom ve­hi­cles out­side of his fam­ily’s Ford­fo­cused com­fort zone. But if it weren’t for his early love of Chevy cars and trucks, he might not have had the drive to stray from the pack and dump all of his re­sources into cre­at­ing a sim­ply fan­tas­tic F-100 that can stand toe to toe against a build of any badge or pedi­gree.

THE BRONZE FIN­ISH OF THE 22-INCH SCHOTT MODSPORT WHEELS

STANDS STRONG AGAINST THE DEPTH OF THE MA­HOGANY PEARL PAINT.

CUS­TOM BUILDERS WHO TAKE THE TIME TO DE­TAIL THE FRAME AND COM­PO­NENTS THAT ARE

RARELY SEEN BY ON­LOOK­ERS BE­LONG IN A CLASS ALL THEIR OWN. THE FRONT PORTERBUILT FAB DROPMEMBER SYS­TEM IS ON GRAND DIS­PLAY FOR THOSE

WHO HAVE THE OP­POR­TU­NITY TO SNEAK A PEEK.

THE FORD RAC­ING COY­OTE MILL LOOKS RIGHT AT HOME IN ITS OWN PRI­VATE VIP EN­GINE BAY. IT’S AMAZ­ING THAT EV­ERY INCH OF THIS TRUCK HAS EI­THER BEEN PAINTED, POL­ISHED OR POW­DER COATED.

THE F-100’S IN­TE­RIOR IS STACKED WITH PLUSH UP­HOL­STERY AND STRIK­ING HARD­WARE.

LATE-MODEL BUCKET SEATS HAVE BEEN RE­VI­TAL­IZED WITH SUP­PLE LEATHER SKINS, AND THE CUS­TOM CEN­TER CON­SOLE SERVES AS A GREAT DI­VIDER OF IN­DI­VID­UAL SPACE FOR BOTH DRIVER AND RIDER.

TO HELP STREAM­LINE THE AP­PEAR­ANCE OF THE DASH, THE CON­SOLE COM­PART­MENT SERVES AS A HID­DEN COM­MAND CEN­TER FOR THE CAB’S SOUND AND CLI­MATE CON­TROL.

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