Doane Yawger: Older Ford trucks have a fan following

August 4, 2013 

Old Ford pickups are pretty cool.

I'm not the only one who thinks the F-100 and later model trucks from Ford are great. In collector circles, these "Effies" have quite a following.

I know of at least three 1956 Ford F-100 trucks running around this area; I've had rides in two of them and wouldn't mind taking a spin in the other one if I get a chance.

Ford trucks are kind of like Mexican food. It's pretty good without jalapeños or hot sauce but even better "warmed up." And everyone does his own unique twist on these commercial charmers.

What I mean here is that 1953-56 Ford trucks, considered a second-generation model, can be fetching mild or wild, just as they came from the dealership or mildly customized in street machine form.

Local car buffs Aaron Andrews and Shane St. Onge own 1956 Ford pickups that have been featured in the Sun-Star's "My Favorite Ride." They have modern high-horsepower V-8 engines, updated front and rear suspensions, newer wheels and tires, smoothed-off body work and contemporary interior appointments.

Both trucks ride comfortably, sound terrific and have no problems whatsoever keeping up with traffic. They are modern vehicles cloaked in vintage skin.

For someone who appreciates gleaming woodwork, the wood-planked beds in these trucks look terrific with slick coatings of varnish and new chrome strips.

Still there's nothing wrong with an untouched original truck that still has a six-cylinder motor or a flathead V-8 engine and the more Spartan interior that the dealer offered.

Ford sold more than half a million of the F-100s from 1953-56; at the time their dimensions were bigger and the chassis more sophisticated from the previous F-1 models. When the 130-horsepower overhead valve V-8 engine was offered in 1954, the additional power resulted in rising sales.

While the basic body configurations are pretty much the same over those four years, each model year has a distinctive grille. Some of the 1956 F-100s came with wraparound "big windows" in the rear while others had smaller back windows. Either version is good.

A number of companies offer parts to restore these old Fords, everything from bodies and fenders to all the trim pieces and cargo beds. The flathead V-8 engine in the 1953 models has been around since 1932 with gradual upgrades over the years.

Old pickups make terrific hobby vehicles. You can lavish as much attention on them as you like — and the checkbook allows — or leave them untouched. Either way they bear watching, and I certainly will do that for some time to come.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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