SALINA – Larry Fagan was looking for a good work truck when he bought his slab-sided 1959 Ford F-100 pickup back in 1966. The truck dutifully performed that function for him over the years and, as so often happens, it went into long-term storage, waiting for the day when it could be resurrected.
Something told him to hold onto the F-100, as it was a long, wide box truck with the big back, wraparound window.
“It wasn’t in bad shape. It had the 292 V-8 in it and I had to get the valves done. I drove it from 1966 until 1976 as my daily driver, when I bought another vehicle,” Fagan said. “My son (Kris) started driving it at 16, in 1984 and he drove it till he bought a new truck in 1994.”
By then the truck had been repainted once and a 312 Ford V-8 engine installed. But then it sat behind Kris Fagan’s house, unused, for five years.
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“He moved and somebody wanted to buy it, but I said, ‘No, I don’t want to sell it.’ I went over and all four tires were flat and the battery was dead. I put some gas in it and drove it home,” the elder Fagan said. “It sat on the street. Any time I needed to haul something, I would fire it up.”
Eventually he built a detached garage and parked the truck inside, but nothing was done until April 2008, when he pulled the truck back out.
“I told my wife I’d better get it done. I really didn’t have a plan,” Fagan said. The old pickup was disassembled down to the frame, which was blasted, boxed and powder-coated.
A Fatman Fabrications Mustang II-style front suspension was welded in by Mike Hoff, with a 4-bar coilover rear suspension, also by Fatman, installed by Hoff Machine Shop.
Fagan kept the original 9-inch Ford rear end under the truck, equipped with a 3.0 gear ratio. But he had different plans for the power plant.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have … always preferred Chevys over Fords, particularly the engines. So when I decided to do this, I decided to go with a Chevy engine because they are easy to work on and get parts for,” he said.
So a Chevy Ramjet 350 fuel injected crate engine rated at 350 horsepower was ordered and installed, along with a 700R4 automatic transmission. Scott Simpson at Best Radiator in Hays custom-built the radiator for the truck, as well as the 3-inch exhaust system mounting Magnaflow mufflers.
The project moved along and stopped several times as challenges popped up.
“At one time, I actually had four different hoods for the truck, trying to decide what would work best,” Fagan said. A new fiberglass forward-tilting hood was tried, but began cracking when it was attached to the hydraulic rams. So it was back to a steel hood.
“I had three different tailgates on this thing. I wanted to put a tailgate on that would be flush, that wouldn’t look like it was hanging off the back of the truck,” Fagan said.
Things really started rolling after Fagan retired and took his project to Calvin Customs and Hot Rod Repair in Salina last December.
“Calvin Calp has good ideas and does really good work,” Fagan said. “There were always one to three guys working on it. It took them eight months to finish it.”
The body work was smoothed and finished, with the metal hood hinged forward and opening by remote control. The old farm-style tailgate was cleaned up and modified to swing open horizontally, while the gas filler was hidden behind a pop-out tail light.
Fagan did resist Calp’s suggestion to two-tone the truck, which had always been a solid red color. When Fagan and his wife, Penny, saw Ford’s 2014 Racing Red color at a car show, they knew that was the right choice and after Tim Brown saturated the exterior with that, the truck came alive.
Inside, JD Johnson covered a pair of modified Camaro bucket seats with stone-colored leather and adobe cloth, while the dashboard was smoothed of all controls and filled with a set of Dakota Digital gauges. Vintage Air air conditioning and an ididit steering column topped by a Vin Tec wheel added to the upgrade. Calvin Calp built the custom center console, which houses a Lokar shifter.
A set of Ridler 18-inch wheels finished with dark graphite spokes provides the perfect contrast to the red exterior. Tires are Goodyear 235/60/18s in back, with 235/50/18s up front. Slowing is controlled by disc brakes at all four corners.
“Everything on the truck has been changed or worked on,” Fagan says, noting it has been a learning experience.
“Was it ever, and a really long one too,” grinned Penny, who pitched in and helped sand and stain the new wooden cargo bed floor.
The old red work truck finally has a new mission: transporting the Fagans to car shows and cruises, instead of hauling appliances or car parts.
Reach Mike Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.