The car: 1972 Ford F-250 4x4 pickup truck
The owner: Chris Hildebrandt, Merced
1. What are the key features of your vehicle? My best friend in high school, the late Rick Huseman, short course off-road champion, his brother Danny and I built the 500-horsepower 460 cid engine back in 1992. I later installed a custom Dana 60 front axle and rebuilt New Process 435 four-speed transmission and 205 transfer case.
2. What did you have to do to get it in its present state? Twenty-three years restoring the truck as budget allowed, including purchasing several donor trucks to obtain trim and rust-free body parts and lots of body work. My brother Darin and many friends helped with the heavy lifting, but I did most of the restoration work myself.
3. What else do you want to do to it? The final stages of the project are to apply a roll-on rubberized bedliner, get the air conditioning working and install the headliner and a high-quality stereo system.
4. How did you acquire your vehicle? I purchased the truck while in high school with a little bit of saved cash and traded in my Suzuki Quadracer.
5. Why did you pick that particular vehicle and what do you find appealing about it? My friend Rick and I were into off-road activities and hunting, and his family was a Ford family, so I became an FoMoCo fan. I dreamed of owning a 1972 Ford 4x4, and Rick drove a 1972 Ford Bronco handed down from his father.
6. What started your love affair with cars? Learning how cars worked and the intricacies of engines excited the mechanical side of me. I also grew a deep respect for American ingenuity and quality as I learned more about the muscle cars and trucks from the 1960s and 1970s.
7. What advice would you give others about starting such a project? Develop a plan and budget, be patient and enlist the help of experts.
8. Do you have any other collector vehicles or project cars? The only new car I ever bought is a 2003 Ford Mustang Cobra, the first with a supercharger. The value is already climbing due to collector status, but like my F-250 I have no plans to get rid of this car only to regret it later, as others have done.
9. What’s your favorite memory about this ride? I am dedicating this truck to Rick and his younger brother Jeff, who both tragically lost their lives in a plane crash. I am blessed with all the great memories spent with Rick tinkering on the weekends to make our trucks bigger, louder and faster.