Mark Burks is a rare kind of hot rodder. Standing next to his gorgeous turquoise 1936 Ford pickup, he says, "They always say you're never finished with one of these. Well, this car is done. I wouldn't change a thing on it."
And why would he, after all the work he put into transforming a $250 pile of parts into such a universal head-turner?
Burks had spent about 10 years drag racing his high school car, a potent big-block powered 1968 SS Chevelle, when he decided to build something different.
"I bought it in 1989 from a neighbor, Darrell Beckham.It was in a barn... just the frame, a cab and a bed. I didn't even know what it was supposed to look like... I just started piecing it together," Burks said.
He bought a set of fiberglass fenders and an aftermarket hood and propped them up to get an idea of the overall lines of the truck. But it was missing its grille shell, so he headed to a salvage yard.
"I found a '35 1 1/2 ton oilfield truck, but I couldn't buy just the grille. I had to give him $500 for the whole truck. I was able to use the grille, the head lights and the trim pieces and I sold the rest, so I about broke even," Burks said.
"I read a lot of magazines, I talked to a lot of people and I made a lot of trips to salvage yards," he said of his learn-as-you-build project. "Originally, it was supposed to be a daily rat rod sort of thing. It kind of ballooned from there."
The rear part of his original frame was in bad shape, but as luck would have it, he stumbled across a narrowed 9-inch Lincoln rear end lost in the weeds in a salvage yard. Complete with a subframe and suspension, it had been built to do duty in an Opel GT drag car and Burks realized he could use it to achieve the "Pro Street" tubbed look he wanted for his truck.
He cut off the rear of the original frame and welded on the racing rear end; to make everything work, he had to raise the bed of the truck four inches and build a set of wheel tubs that would accommodate a set of monster tires.
A friend of his father donated the 350 Chevy V-8 and TH350 automatic transmission to the project. Burks rebuilt the engine with a mild cam, an Edelbrock Performer intake and 600 cfm carburetor. In the process, he also ground all the rough casting marks on both the engine and transmission smooth.
Another friend, Rick Miller, agreed to paint the truck and handled the body work, including smoothing the insides of the fiberglass fenders to match the slick outer surfaces. Burks was leaning toward painting the truck either a bright red or yellow, but his wife, Jana, suggested something out of the ordinary, a turquoise.
Burks finally settled on a 1964 Ford F-100 Caribbean Turquoise, sprayed in basecoat/clearcoat. "I'm really glad I agreed with my wife on that... if I ever had to repaint it, I would paint it the same color," he said.
The engine and all underhood accessories were treated to the same color. "It's either green or chromed," Burks said of the engine bay. He reluctantly took a hacksaw to a brand new set of Sanderson headers to make them fit.
"The real turning point on this project came when I started working on Jan Coe's '36 Ford coupe for him. He had a connection with a chrome shop and I would trade hours worked for chrome. The axle, the suspension, the ladder bars, the exhaust... they're all chrome. It takes about 40 hours once a year to clean it all up," Burks said.
The truck sits low in front thanks to the chromed Super Bell 4-inch dropped axle equipped with Camaro disc brakes. The chromed exhaust system built by Kevin Kaiser employs old-school glass pack mufflers.
And the Centerline 14-inch deep rear wheels and racing-style front wheels add just the right amount of contrast to make the whole package work.
Inside, the interior is finished in two-tone gray upholstery by Rick Fisher of Augusta. Ask Burks where the nifty rounded bucket seats came from and he can only say, "I found them in the back of an old school bus when I was looking for the engine parts. I have no idea what they came out of."
Vintage Air air conditioning is incorporated into the dash of the truck, as are a set of VDO gauges mounted in a billet aluminum instrument insert. A Lecarra 4-spoke wheel is used, along with a Lokar shifter.
When Burks and his wife started their family, the truck was put away, as it didn't offer enough room.
But with their children, Lauren, now 16, and Logan, now 14, they have brought the truck back out. "It's really not period-dated. This truck has never let me down, ever. It's a street rod and we're going to have fun with it," Burks said.
After all, this is one project that actually is finished.