HOT rod pick-up trucks have been a thing since the 1950s, and with their unique blend of fat stance and practicality, it is easy to see how Queensland’s Maurie Pickering fell in love with them. Maurie is the lucky bloke who carries the keys to this ’55 F100 pro tourer, built by Charlie and Rhea Fakes of Fakes Engineering on the Gold Coast.
This article was first published in the April 2019 issue of Street Machine
“The tray that came with the truck was a repro item and it really didn’t need much work,” says Charlie. Still, he added the smoothed-off rollpan and central-exit exhaust to neaten up the tail of the truck. The script on the tailgate isn’t original; it’s actually the Ford script from 1936
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“Maurie came to us with just an idea that he wanted a restomod-style ’55 F-truck,” says Charlie. “He wanted it to be like a brand new car – all modern drivetrain gear in it and under it – but it had to look old. He saw Sylvester Stallone’s truck in The Expendables and wanted that.
Charlie reckons doing up an early Effie isn’t for the faint of heart. “The quality of build in a 50s F-truck compared to a 50s Chev is night and day,” he says. “The Fords are a great-looking truck, but I could do three Chevs in the time it took me to do this one! It’s just the way they’re built; they are finer and fiddlier than the rugged Chevs”
“We found an Aussie-delivered ’55 cab, which came with heaps of bits and pieces, including a bent chassis, but it was a basket case and it made this truck a big project,” Charlie continues. “The doors, chassis, and cab weren’t original to each other, and it had a repro bed. We got the cab on the chassis and started dummying it up, but it wasn’t low enough, so we lopped it off behind the cab to get it low and made a whole new rear section with a four-link.”
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This is how the project began: a decrepit '55 F100 cab and assorted other bits hauled into Fakes Engineering on the back of their work truck. Charlie describes this starting point as "a basket case."
While Ford’s I-beam front end was great for building the F100’s legacy as a killer work truck, it sucks if you want your Effie to have good hot rod stance. To fix this, Charlie sourced a complete independent front end from The Pickup Place in Melbourne. Using an XH Falcon front end, it features custom coil-over struts, and was needed due to engineering laws in place during that period of the build.
“The front of the chassis is pretty standard apart from the K-frame and extra crossmember for the transmission,” Charlie explains. “We weren’t even allowed to use a hot rod-style four-link at that time! The four-link arms in there are actually out of a Nissan Patrol. Now the laws have changed so it would be easier to build now.”
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There is a mind-bending amount of bodywork and custom touches in the 64-year-old shell. A ’56 F100 grille was recessed into the front end, which also sports a custom front bumper, shaved bonnet, rear rollpan, custom tail-lights and hidden wiring, custom alloy hard lid, fuel cap, and one-piece side windows. Out back, Charlie added the 1936-era Ford script logo into the tailgate for another custom touch.
“There’d be thousands of hours in the bodywork. There are that many modifications you’d never pick,” Charlie says. “The body lines where the doors flow into the dash never met from the factory, so we made them flush, just for one. Also, everyone who’s worked on one of these trucks knows the bonnet hinges are diabolical, so I’ve made what I describe as a sway-bar for these hinges. As you lift the bonnet the hinges can get out of phase, so the bonnet goes crooked. Once I got that right, we could start getting the front-end panels on to gap them.
“The door apertures were all off, as someone had picked the cab up with a forklift. I also lifted the steps of the truck up 1.5 inches, then trimmed the back of the guards to suit, so it makes the front of the truck look lower.”
“We had a lot of silly setbacks,” says Charlie. “Maurie organised a set of wheels, so I sent the company the measurements of what would work with our suspension and chassis. They re-measured the truck to check, but to fit the wheels they sent we had to remake all the brake mounting brackets and machine the brake discs down so the wheels would mount, then relocate the valve stems to give the calipers clearance”
Despite initially wanting to spray the truck flat-black, thankfully Maurie was inspired to have the F100 coated in Lamborghini Grigio Titans, a dark matte grey paint. “We actually went and bought the PPG Envirobase paint, exactly how Lamborghini paints it on its Huracan models,” Charlie explains.
After the battle to get the body bang-on, Maurie had a much easier time with the drivetrain. He purchased a crate five-litre Coyote V8 as a complete package. This included the 435hp quad-cam injected modern-generation small-block, starter motor and alternator, the Control Pack to run the show on a Ford Performance ECU, and a Ford AOD 4R70W auto with tuneable Smart Shift technology.
While the mill was delivered ready to run, Charlie added an MMR sheet-metal intake manifold, 100mm Ford Performance throttlebody, and custom exhaust system to help the modern small-block breathe better than stock.
With 435hp out of the box and modern manners, Charlie and Maurie didn’t need to do much to the 5.0L Coyote under the Effie’s huge bonnet. The overradiator intake hides a K&N panel filter and shrouds a custom PWR alloy radiator, while the BA Falcon brake booster and master cylinder look like they were always meant to be there
“Maurie wanted a different look for the Coyote, as he didn’t like the look of the stock plastic intake manifold; this sheet-metal one gives it an individual look,” Charlie says. “We had to get it dyno-tuned after fitting the manifold and over-radiator intake, but it goes really bloody well!”
A cast-housing Ford nine-inch diff filled with a Truetrac LSD centre lives out the back, providing bulletproof traction. The diff is hidden behind 18x10in custom-order American Racing VN474 Gasser wheels and fat Ford Performance disc brakes, while 18x8in American Racing hoops live up front and barely fit over the six-piston Brembo disc brakes.
Looking past the trim that original ’55 F100 owners could only dream of, Charlie points out how big this build was to start with, as they really only had the barest bones. “The doors weren’t original to the cab and they didn’t have catches or hinges or any fittings, so we had to source all those parts for each door,” he says
Those brakes will hopefully be getting a workout soon, as Charlie is finishing off the final jobs on the pick-up’s shakedown. Having gone through such a comprehensive rebuild, he’s feeling a little sad to be coming to the end of his journey with the ’55.
“Maurie got the trim done here on the Gold Coast; the truck went out to get trimmed then came back for final assembly, tuning and shakedown,” Charlie says of the neat interior. It features Classic Instruments gauges, Vintage Air air conditioning, RetroSound vintage-looking Bluetooth radio, and diamond-stitch leather trim in place of the stock vinyl
“I’m just working on the electronic speedo right now and it is pretty much ready to go to Maurie, who is just itching to get it,” Charlie says. “It drives really nice; you stand on it and it just goes straight!”
1955 FORD F100
Paint: PPG Lamborghini Grigio Titans matte dark grey
Brand: Ford 5.0L Coyote
Induction: MMR sheet-metal intake, 100mm Ford Performance throttlebody
ECU: Ford Performance
Fuel system: Custom fuel cell and in-tank pump system
Cooling: PWR alloy radiator, thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom four-into-one headers, custom mandrel-bent twin 2.5in exhaust
Gearbox: Ford AOD 4R70W automatic
Diff: Ford 9in, Truetrac centre
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: The Pickup Place coil-overs, GAZ shocks, XH Falcon front end
Rear: King Springs, Koni shock, four-link arms
Brakes: Brembo six-piston calipers and discs (f), Ford two-pot calipers and discs (r)
Master cylinder: BA Falcon
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Custom-order American Racing Gasser; 18x8 (f), 18x10 (r)
Rubber: Pirelli P-Zero; 235/40 (f), 295/35 (r)
Fakes Engineering would like to thank Maurie for trusting us with the build of his truck. We would also like to thank Paul Allen for help with the body work and Jayden Demink for the paintwork