Sometimes vehicles transcend mere transportation and cross over into something that some might consider art. It's still a machine and still functions as transportation, but the defining elements of art are the inspiration behind it and the sheer force of will that brought it into existence. While a vintage pickup truck may not belong in the MOMA, this particular '56 Ford doesn't belong in a simple garage, either. It has become something else beyond a working-class machine, and utterly impossible to duplicate.
With an unlimited budget, amazing things are possible, and this astounding 1956 Ford F100 is the result of one man's vision, determination, and one hell of a big check. And while it may look like a familiar pickup truck, there isn't a single component anywhere on this truck that hasn't been modified, smoothed, polished, or created from scratch, and today it is a hand-made piece of rolling sculpture that merely looks like a '56 Ford. The fenders have been smoothed, the hood and roof elaborately sectioned and welded back together to create a flatter profile, and details like the fender lips have been tweaked to make it unlike anything else you've ever seen before. Other details include a custom made bed that's three inches wider and three inches shorter than a stocker. Of course, fit and finish are as perfect as such things can be, with thousands of hours tied up just in getting the body to fit as precisely as possible. If you thought a Rolls-Royce was the pinnacle of automotive perfection, you haven't spent any time looking at the world's top pro-built rods, which, like this truck, are perhaps the most finely crafted machines on earth.
Then there's the paint, which is a subtle two-tone green that will never go out of fashion. In thirty years, this truck will still look as stunning as it does today, which is a tribute to the builder's taste as much as his skill. Somehow they've tapped into the Ford's natural contours and selected exactly the right place for the bright red pinstripe that separates the two colors, flowing back into a painted sweep-spear that neatly bisects the bodywork. There are, of course, no ripples or signs of orange peel in the paint, which has been massaged, polished, and buffed to a stunning shine that is distortion-free no matter where you look, even in the door jambs and under the hood. Much of the chrome and trim has been removed, but that which remains has been painted to match the bodywork, including the instantly recognizable F100 grille, simple bumpers, and even the running boards. And while the bed is still wood like it was originally, it is now made of exotic South African Lace wood stained a wonderful mahogany color and detailed with stainless steel rub strips. As I said, there isn't a single component on this truck that didn't have hours of thoughtful consideration behind its creation.
Power comes from a General Motors Performance Parts 454 cubic inch big block V8, which cranks out a towering 425 horsepower. But the point wasn't performance (although it's bloody quick), but rather removing performance as a concern. Of course it's fast. But the real point was to make it fast AND beautiful, which, thanks to a set of custom-made valve covers featuring emblems inspired by the original Ford pieces, and a trick intake shroud, it most certainly is. The firewall and inner fenders have been hand-made to create a smooth canvas for the artist's brush, and you'll note that the color scheme continues unbroken under the hood. All the wiring and plumbing has been artfully hidden and tucked out of sight, and even things like the welds on the radiator are precise enough to survive close scrutiny. Plenty of engineering went into the build, so it runs and drives as you would expect, with a ferocious wallop of torque and a rumbling idle. If you just have to drive it, you certainly can and without worries about its roadworthiness.
More hand-fabricated components live underneath, thanks to a Fatman Fabrications frame with a Mustang II independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Out back, a traditional four-link holds the Ford 9-inch rear off the ground, and the 3.70 gears inside give it plenty of bit off the line without making cruising a chore. A built 700R4 4-speed automatic handles gear changes, and the overdrive allows it to loaf along at highway speeds. Airbags at all four corners allow ride height to be adjusted on the fly without affecting ride quality, and it glides along the pavement like a hovercraft. A set of gorgeous Sanderson headers dump into a hand-made stainless exhaust system, and every single component has been painted, polished, or plated for show. Disc brakes with cross-drilled rotors have been fitted at all four corners, and are visible through the spokes of the custom-made 20-inch Budnik GTX wheels wearing low-profile BFGoodrich tires.
Climb inside and you'll easily forget that this was once a pickup truck, as the custom made green leather interior envelops you like that in an exotic multi-million-dollar supercar. There's not a single production part left inside, and even the 2006 Nissan Altima gauges were custom modified just for this truck. Beautifully stitched seats, door panels, and even floor mats create a unified theme, and you'll note that the paint job details even wrap around the door frames and continue inside the truck. A custom center console with a waterfall effect between the seats was fabricated, and houses the shifter and controls for the Vintage Air A/C system. A hidden audio system with remote supplies the sounds, and even details like courtesy lights are artfully integrated into the design. I think you'll agree that calling this art is not an exaggeration.
This truck is also highly decorated, having appeared on dozens of magazine covers, on calendars, and has received numerous awards at the very highest levels. Just a sample of the accolades include:
Goodguys 2008 Truck of the Year
Featured on “Powerblock” TV
Cover of the ANPAC Chrome 2010 calendar (also as March 2010 feature vehicle)
August 2008 issue of “Truckin'” magazine
April 2011 Goodguys “Goodtimes Gazette” Dream Car Pick
So is this 1956 Ford F100 art? Well, it's certainly more than just a truck. It takes more than cubic dollars to build a vehicle of this caliber (although that's definitely a primary ingredient), it also takes vision, time, skill, talent, and dedication. There's an emotional connection that you feel with this truck because every single component has a craftsman's blood, sweat, and tears poured into it, and only be sheer force of will does a project of this magnitude reach completion. Is it expensive? Sure, but the build cost was probably double the asking price, and at this level, you simply can't compare it to garden-variety rods. People pay millions for art to hang on their walls, surely this piece of art that stands in your garage is worth it, too.