A 1956 Ford F-100 Big-Window That Gets Better With Every Rebuild
Thirty-four years ago, Richard Wilk got involved with a remodel on his house. It made sense to have an old workhorse pickup to help with the job. Richard, from Rowland Heights in Los Angeles County, found what he was looking for a few miles away in Monterey Park. The owner had five big-window Ford trucks and this 1956 F-100 was in fair condition—good enough for what Richard needed.
By the time the remodel was done, Richard had taken a liking to the old truck, continuing to use it as a daily driver. A few years after that, he started thinking about rebuilding the truck. By the '90s, these Effies had long since crossed the line into the classic truck category and Richard's plans extended past repairs and restoration into building something capable of getting attention at car shows while still serving as a daily driver. With the blessing of his wife, Mary Ann, and help from his son, Jeff, Richard started on the frame-off rebuild. The resulting second version of the faithful F-100 was distinguished by its bright yellow paint. The factory 292 and three-speed were replaced with a Lincoln 460 and C6 combination. The rebuilt chassis included independent front suspension and Currie Ford 9-inch rearend. White letters Goodyear Eagle GTX tires rolled on 15-inch Edelbrock 426 five-window wheels. The beautiful rebuild was a hit at shows and was featured in the Jan. '02 issue of Truckin, a sister publication of ours.
Success at shows didn't prevent Richard from keeping his F-100 on the road, and eventually the truck started showing signs of daily use, including some rust returning in the usual places. He got in touch with Bill Kenney Jr. at Trigen Street Rods in La Habra, California, for professional help with rust removal and fresh paint. Naturally, that evolved, and the Wilks' father and son project was about to move into its third version at a completely new level of impressiveness. "Bill took the lead on the full restoration, working his magic in fabrication, doing all of my requests, and adding a ton of his own great ideas," Richard told us.
With the body off the frame, Trigen treated the chassis to some extensive modifications. Boxing plates, custom engine and transmission mounts, and crossmembers with a driveshaft safety yoke reinforce the F-100 frame. The TCI Mustang IIstyle frontend is equipped with Gabriel coilovers to smooth the ride, and a TCI power steering rack to ensure effortless cornering. At the other end, a Ford 9-inch rear with 3.73:1 gears and a posi differential are suspended by a four-link setup and Romic Motors Performance coilovers. ABS Power Brake disc brakes are mounted at each corner for reliable stopping. A powdercoat finish by Fercadi Powder Coating keeps the undercarriage protected and pretty.
A smooth custom firewall and inner fenders were created for the engine compartment, and the Ford 460 big-block was rebuilt at Orange Engine, modified with a mild RV cam for daily driving with some low-end torque. Induction is a traditional Edelbrock 750 carb and manifold combo, crowned with an air cleaner from Racing Power Company. A March Performance serpentine system dresses up the front of the engine. Exhaust runs through Sanderson headers, 2 1/2-inch custom pipes, and MagnaFlow mufflers on the way to the tailpipes routed through the custom running boards. The Ford E40D electronic transmission was assembled at A1 Transmission.
As mentioned, the rust repair and paint that Richard's F-100 needed evolved into the custom bodywork it deserved. Bill at Trigen Street Rods restored and modified the exterior sheetmetal. Driprails were shaved, emblems were eliminated, seams were filled, and door corners were radiused. Built-in turn signals and LED lenses were added to the headlights. The taillights feature billet aluminum housings. The bumpers have been boxed and tucked in, with a frenched license plate niche in the rear. The filled and smoothed hood was re-hinged for a forward tilt. The bed was cleaned up with all seams filled and fender bolts removed. A smooth Mar-K tailgate features hidden supports. Richard installed the Mar-K oak bed floor panels and stainless steel strips.
The truck was yellow when Richard bought it, and repainted yellow for its second version. For its third version, it's yellow again, but only after a lot of thought. At the time, Richard was seeing a lot of orange and root beer brown paint at the shows he attended, but he didn't want what so many others had chosen. He considered blue, but a friend had a blue pickup. He considered red, but as a retired firefighter, he'd spent enough time in red trucks. So he stayed with yellow, picking the brightest he could find. Auto Perfections in La Habra sprayed the House of Kolor paint called Lunar Yellow. Richard decided against a pearl finish in order to maintain a mid-'60s look.
To fit the beefy tires, the rear fenders were widened 4 inches. The previous wheel and tire combo of 15-inch Edelbrock EB426 wheels with white-letter Goodyear Eagle GTX tires was a little dated, and were replaced with 18-inch custom-built Vintage 45 five-spokes from Vintage Wheel Works with media-blasted centers and spokes, and polished outer rings and three-bar knock-offs. Tucker Tire in Covina provided the Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R radials.
The F-100 went to Bill's Auto Upholstery in Brea, California, for the same level of attention as the rest of the truck. Tan leather was used to cover the Cadillac Eldorado full-power seats and door panels. The dash was cleaned of the glovebox, ashtray, switches, and controls. A custom aluminum bezel houses the Dolphin six-instrument gauge set. Switches were relocated to the leather-wrapped steel center console. The overhead console holds controls for the Custom Autosound stereo system. A polished aluminum lower dash was added for the vents for Vintage Air A/C system. A V-8 column drop supports the RPC chrome tilt steering column, topped with a leather-wrapped Budnik Velocity steering wheel.
Richard has taken his 1956 F-100 to countless National and local hot rod events and has earned a ton of awards, including trophies for Best Paint, Best Engine, Best Truck, and Best Of Show. In all of its various versions, from its work truck origins to the magazine cover truck you're reading about right now, this screaming yellow big-window has retained its identity as a driver.
1956 Ford F-100 Big Window
Frame: 1956 Ford, boxed, custom engine and trans mounts, custom crossmembers
Rearend / Ratio: Ford 9-inch / 3.73:1, posi
Rear Suspension: Four-link, Romic Motors Performance coilovers
Rear Brakes: ABS Power Brake disc brakes, 11-inch rotors
Front Suspension: TCI Mustang IIstyle IFS, Gabriel coilovers
Front Brakes: ABS Power Brake disc brakes, 13-inch rotors
Steering: TCI power steering rack-and-pinion
Front Wheels: Vintage Wheel Works Vintage 45 18x8
Rear Wheels: Vintage Wheel Works Vintage 45 18x10
Front Tires: Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R 26x10.00
Rear Tires: Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R 285x12.00
Gas Tank: 20-gallon stainless tank with bed floor filler
Engine: 1973 Ford 460 big-block built by Orange Engine
Carburetor: Edelbrock 750 cfm
Intake Manifold: Edelbrock
Air Cleaner: Racing Power Company
Valve Covers: Ford Motorsport
Exhaust: Custom 2 1/2-inch pipes
Serpentine Drive: March Performance
Radiator: Mattson's aluminum
Fans: Stal electric
Transmission: Ford E40D, built by A1 Transmission, Buena Park, CA
Torque Converter: Stock
Shift Kit: U.S. Shift Control Systems
Driveshaft: O.C. Driveline
Style: 1956 Ford F-100 Big Window
Modifications: Shaved driprails, filled seams, radiused door corners
Fenders: Factory, rear fenders widened 4 inches, custom running boards
Hood: Factory, filled, smoothed, forward tilt
Grille: Stock, floating
Painter: Auto Perfections, La Habra, CA
Paint / Color: House Of Kolor / Lunar Yellow
Chrome: La Habra Plating
Bed: Factory, Mar-K tailgate, oak floor panels, stainless steel strips
Headlights / Taillights: Custom with turn signals and LED lenses / 1956 Ford
Outside Mirrors: Racing Power Company
Glass: Kotto Glass
Bumpers: Stock, boxed, and tucked in
Dashboard: 1956 Ford, modified, aluminum custom lower dash
Gauges: Dolphin gauges and instruments
Steering Wheel: Budnik Velocity
Steering Column: Racing Power Company
Seats: Cadillac Eldorado full-power seats
Upholstery: Bill's Auto Upholstery, Brea, CA
Material / Color: Leather / Tan
Carpet / Color: Wool / Tan
Wiring: American Autowire, installed by Trigen Street Rods
Air Conditioning: Vintage Air
Sound System: Custom Autosound