Ne­glected 2 Per­fected

A Re­tire­ment Project Turned 25-Year Mas­ter­piece


A ’53 F100 re­tire­ment project turned 25-year mas­ter­piece

Raul Silva from El Paso, Texas, en­joyed a ca­reer in the engi­neer­ing depart­ment of his city, charged with in­spect­ing and main­tain­ing its in­fra­struc­ture. When he re­tired, he took a slightly dif­fer­ent ap­proach than most. “When a lot of peo­ple re­tire, they im­me­di­ately go out to find an­other job,” Raul tells us. “I wanted to re­tire and get away from the busi­ness world. Thank­fully, I had a project.” As it turned out, the truck he bought back in 1991 might have been even more of a project than he bar­gained for. But, with the help of many friends, the for­got­ten old Ford be­came a show­stop­per—although it was any­thing but an overnight suc­cess.

Raul grew up in a car-ori­ented fam­ily where Dad, a con­sum­mate car guy, would buy, fix, and reg­u­larly sell cars.

That es­tab­lished a love for the hobby in Raul that is still strong to­day. Us­ing mul­ti­ple car shows over the years and the end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able from the af­ter­mar­ket as a source of in­spi­ra­tion, Raul al­ready had a clear idea for the direc­tion of his project truck. His ta­lents as an ex­pe­ri­enced drafts­man helped cre­ate de­sign vi­su­als, and his good friends were able to put his ideas to work. The build, how­ever, needed to start from scratch. Found in a field, the tired and ne­glected ’53 F100 needed ex­ten­sive sheet­metal work and all-new run­ning gear, so the first step was sep­a­rat­ing the us­able parts of the body from the chas­sis. Af­ter box­ing the frame, the long march into the new mil­len­nium be­gan with a TCI in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion pack­age that in­cluded new A-arms, ad­justable coilovers, and rack-and-pin­ion power steer­ing. The TCI four-link and Pan­hard bar in the rear hold a nar­rowed Lin­coln Ver­sailles 9-inch posi­trac­tion rear and 4.88 gears. A 16-gal­lon tank from Rick’s Hot Rods lo­cated be­tween the rear fram­erails keeps the cab sweet smelling. An in­di­ca­tor of the at­ten­tion to de­tail is the 1/2-inch PVC along the fram­erails, added to pro­tect all the gas lines, brake lines, and wiring.

Power was next, and it was im­por­tant to Raul that the Ford have a Ford un­der the hood—in this case, a 351 Wind­sor bored to 383ci. Since it also had to be re­ally quick, he turned to the af­ter­mar­ket to cre­ate just the right amount of too much fun.

The Wind­sor was com­pletely dis­as­sem­bled and re­built with a hand­picked as­sort­ment of modern per­for­mance up­grades that be­gan with Keith Black pis­tons, a Pete Jack­son gear drive, Lu­nati cam, and Edel­brock heads. For looks as well as per­for­mance, dual quad Edel­brock 500-cfm En­duraShine carbs sit on an Air-Gap Per­former in­take. The MSD Pro-Bil­let elec­tronic ig­ni­tion fires the fuel/air mix while San­der­son ce­ramic-coated head­ers ex­tract spent gases, di­rect­ing them through a San­der­son X-pipe and dual Mag­naflow muf­flers. Dress-up items in­clude Bil­let Spe­cial­ties valve cov­ers and air cleaner, TruTrac ser­pen­tine en­gine pul­ley sys­tem, and a pol­ished alu­minum ra­di­a­tor. A re­worked Ford

AOD trans­mis­sion, com­plete with B&M 10-inch torque con­verter and Mon­ster Trans­mis­sion and Per­for­mance shift kit, mul­ti­plies the en­gine’s stout 385 hp. The chas­sis be­came a roller, thanks to Amer­i­can Rac­ing 17x8 rims and Toyo rub­ber, with Wil­wood fourpis­ton disc brakes en­sur­ing modern stop­ping power.

All the orig­i­nal sheet­metal on the truck was re­worked to a high stan­dard, with the ex­cep­tion of the bed and rear fend­ers, which were too far gone to save. Den­nis Car­pen­ter came to the res­cue with af­ter­mar­ket re­place­ments. Sub­tle touches in­clude the run­ning boards re­designed to fit closely to the body and the front bumper tucked in 3 inches. The fac­tory grille was chromed, and Raul chose Tri-Bar head­lights orig­i­nally de­signed for mo­tor­cy­cle use. They match the vin­tage tail­lights, all four fea­tur­ing cen­trally mounted blue dots. Mag­naflow pipes pok­ing through the Dan Car­pen­ter roll pan give you a hint of the F100’s power un­der the hood. Per­son­al­iz­ing the smooth tail­gate is a Lit­tle Stinker car­toon char­ac­ter, a trib­ute to Raul’s first truck, one that went miss­ing back in the ’80s and was never seen again.

Mov­ing in­side, the in­te­rior started as a clean slate with a starkly sim­ple dash, de­void of any dis­trac­tions, painted black and white, and hold­ing only Dakota Dig­i­tal gauges and Vin­tage

Air com­po­nents. The cab ben­e­fits from a stun­ning col­lec­tion of fiber­glass up­grades, be­gin­ning with a unique over­head con­sole that holds the Pi­o­neer head unit. Be­low, the match­ing cen­ter con­sole be­gins as a gloss black and up­hol­stered arm­rest be­tween the In­fin­ity bucket seats, flow­ing for­ward to hold the Lokar au­to­matic shifter. It tran­si­tions to White Pearl and drops down, re­turn­ing to cre­ate a wa­ter­fall ef­fect. The grille be­tween the buck­ets holds the Memphis 10-inch sub, tweet­ers are mounted in the head­liner, and 6.5-inch com­po­nent sets are lo­cated be­hind the seats. A 400-watt Memphis amp un­der the pas­sen­ger seat pro­vides power. Raul’s wife, Gela, nick­named the light­ning bolt theme in the dis­tinc­tive door pan­els the “Power Ranger touch.” The fiber­glass kick pan­els match the door pan­els per­fectly. Raul con­nects with his “Effie” us­ing a Bil­let Spe­cial­ties wheel on an ididit col­umn. With every fea­ture mod­ern­ized, the sin­gle-pane side glass, doors, and ton­neau cover all work from a re­mote with lin­ear ac­tu­a­tors rais­ing and low­er­ing the Pro’s Pick ton­neau cover. The Ford logo and V-8 sym­bol were air­brushed un­der the cover, and the maple planks are sep­a­rated by alu­minum strips. The up­hol­stery was done by the tal­ented team at Keller Kus­toms in El Paso, which was also re­spon­si­ble for the body­work and paint. Raul chose House of Kolor Raven Black along with Ivory Parch­ment Pearl with tan­ger­ine and gun­metal strip­ing. Graph­ics pass through the doors and into the en­gine com­part­ment.

We ran into Raul at the F-100 Su­per­na­tion­als in Ten­nessee, an event that’s been on his bucket list since 2012. It was a five-day, 1,350-mile trip from home, but Raul smiled when he told us, “See­ing your truck in your fa­vorite mag­a­zine makes the jour­ney worth­while!” One more spe­cial item of note: Raul is con­tin­u­ing the fam­ily tra­di­tion started by his dad, work­ing with his grand­son Austin and teach­ing him about cars. A re­cent high school grad­u­ate, Austin will get the keys to the ’53 and a leg­endary road trip on Route 66 with his grand­fa­ther when he shows Raul a col­lege diploma. Talk about in­cen­tive!

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