The six-year build on this beautiful 1953 is finally complete

Sometimes dreams really do come true. For Nicholas Benoit, a diesel mechanic living in Port Sulphur, Louisiana, it happened in a convenience store! As far back as he could remember, Nick always dreamed of owning a classic truck like this. He and his wife, Rachel, were traveling to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to look at several classic trucks that they found on the Internet, but the results were disappointing. On the way home however, a quick stop in a local convenience store changed everything. Rachel picked up a truck sales paper and saw a picture of this orange 1953 F-100. Although it looked too good to be true, they took a chance, spoke to the owner in Michigan, closed the deal, and were thrilled when their new truck arrived at their home in Louisiana.

1953 Ford F-100 Nick Benoit-03.JPG

Although the truck needed some upgrades, most of them were already on Nick’s to-do list, so it worked out perfectly. Nothing ensures quality like a firm foundation, so improvements began with chassis mods, boxing the rails, and adding a new Heidts Super Ride II frontend with 2-inch drop spindles, power steering, and a Classic Performance Products disc brake conversion package. The original parallel leaf springs combine with modern coilovers to stabilize the narrowed 8.8 rear, running 3.73 gears and a Heidts disc brake conversion. Nick smiles when he says “A four-link is already on the short list.” The original gas tank was replaced with an 18-gallon fuel cell, now located between the rear framerails. Transforming the chassis into a roller are the 15-inch Center Line Warrior Drag Series rims, fitted with P225/70R15 Hoosier rubber up front and fat, 31×18.5×15 Hoosiers in the rear.

1953 Ford F-100 Nick Benoit-09.JPG

The truck already had a strong 390 FE V-8 installed but if lots of power is good, more is even better, so Nick had the motor rebuilt, boring it 0.040 over and upgrading the rotating assembly with Keith Black 9:1 pistons and a Ford FE crank from Eagle Specialty Products. A COMP Cam works the three angle-cut valves in the Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads. Nick chose a 4160 Classic 750-cfm Holley four-barrel carb with a “bird catcher” scoop for the air/fuel mix, along with a PerTronix Flame-Thrower II distributor and coil that fires the spark through MSD wires. Sanderson FF427 ceramic-coated headers feed a 3-inch stainless steel exhaust system with a Pypes crossover and Gibson MWA mufflers (Mufflers with Attitude). The side-exiting pipes dump through tips cut into the running boards and create a serious performance rumble. Keeping the big engine cool was a priority, beginning with an Edelbrock Victor series 8835 water pump and three-row, Champion aluminum radiator running a Flex-a-lite fan. A Flex-a-lite oil cooler and TCI Automatic transmission cooler protect the rest of the fluids while the billet aluminum V-Belt pulley kit powers the Tuff Stuff 100-amp alternator. Wayne Myer from Harahan Auto Parts in Harahan, Louisiana, was in charge of the engine build. The potent package sends 450 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque to the TCI Street three-speed automatic controlled by a B&M Slap Shifter.

1953 Ford F-100 Nick Benoit-08.JPG

Once the essential powertrain upgrades were in place, body mods were next. When the truck arrived, it had a Mid Fifty fiberglass Tilt Dog House front end along with their headlights, taillights, window glass, and sideview mirrors. New rear fenders and tailgate were added but the rest of the bed is original. Inside the bed, the rich-looking Oak planks are separated by polished stainless steel strips and mini-tubs were added to provide clearance for the 18.5-inch-wide rear tires. A louvered rear pan and repro Ford taillights wrap up the rear. Up front, the original grille was re-chromed and an aftermarket bumper added. The truck retains its original cowl vent as a nostalgic touch. The distinctive Prowler Orange metallic paint with Pearl ghost flames was shot by Doug Haselet from Cassopolis, Michigan.

The final effort was making a few changes to an already beautiful interior, complete with tan leather Mustang bucket seats with a center armrest. Using the same Oak found in the bed and the cup holder on top of the center armrest, the Oak center console holds the aggressive-looking B&M shifter. For a nostalgic touch, the original Ford heater is still in place and warms the cab on chilly mornings. Monitoring all the critical elements of the high-performance motor and looking like a piece of dashboard jewelry is the distinctive, silver and gold Ford Masterpiece five-piece gauge cluster. The final upgrades were a steering column from ididit holding a Billet Specialties wheel. There is one more important addition to the interior. After these photos were taken, a local artist created a memorial to Nick’s mother on the passenger side of the dashboard. Suzie was born the same year as the truck in 1953. She was in poor health but always talked about riding in the truck. Unfortunately she died before it was complete. The dashboard tribute is a reminder to Nick that she is still with him in spirit.

1953 Ford F-100 Nick Benoit-07.JPG

The trophy-winning F-100 took about six years of part-time work and there’s more to come. Future plans include an Art Morrison chassis and air suspension along with some upgrades to the powertrain. While the truck is complete, it’s safe to say that this one may never be finished! (And, of course, that’s just the way we like ’em.)

1953 Ford F-100

Nick Benoit

CHASSIS
Frame: Reinforced rails
Rearend / Ratio: Ford 8.8 with 3.73 gears.
Rear suspension: Ford leaf springs with modern coilovers
Rear brakes: Heidts disc
Front suspension: Heidts Super Ride II frontend with 2-inch drop spindles
Front brakes: Classic Performance Products disc brake conversion package
Steering box: Heidts power steering
Front wheels: 15-inch Center Line Warrior Drag Series
Rear wheels: 15-inch Center Line Warrior Drag Series
Front tires: P225/70R15 Hoosier
Rear tires: 31×18.5×15 Hoosiers
Gas tank: 18-gallon fuel cell mounted between the rear chassis members

DRIVETRAIN
Engine: Ford 390 FE V-8
Heads: Edelbrock aluminum
Valve covers: Ford Racing
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock and 750-cfm Holley four-barrel
Ignition: PerTronix Flame-Thrower II
Headers: Sanderson
Exhaust / Mufflers: 3-inch stainless steel with Gibson mufflers
Transmission: TCI Auto Street three-speed automatic
Shifter: B&M Slap Shifter in a custom center console

BODY
Style: pickup
Modifications: Mid Fifty side glass
Fenders front / rear: Mid Fifty fiberglass Tilt Dog House front end, aftermarket rear fenders
Grille: re-chromed original
Bed: oak planks, stainless steel strips, mini-tubs, louvered rear pan
Bodywork and paint by: Doug Haselet from Cassopolis, MI
Paint type / Color: Prowler Orange metallic paint with Pearl ghost flames
Headlights / Taillights: Mid Fifty headlights, Ford reproduction taillights
Outside mirrors: Mid Fifty
Bumpers: Aftermarket front bumper, rear bumper deleted

INTERIOR
Dashboard: Painted to match
Gauges: Silver and gold Ford Masterpiece five-piece gauge cluster
Air conditioning: no
Stereo: motor music sounds best!
Steering wheel: Billet Specialties
Steering column: ididit
Seats: Mustang buckets with oak center armrest and cup holders, oak custom center console
Upholstery by: previous owner
Material / Color: tan leather
Carpet: tan cotton

Source: hotrod.com

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