Why I didn’t buy a 1956 Ford F100 (yet)

Friday, around 1pm, my father and I set out from work for a drive up to Oregon. I had $8000 in cash stowed away, blank title transfer forms in duplicate, and some snacks and spare clothes. Around 9pm or so we arrived in Medford, OR for the night. Early the next morning, after a short drive up to Grants Pass, OR, I met up with the owner of a 1956 Ford F100 long wheel base pickup.

I’d been in contact with the owner for the past two weeks working out the deal. I’d come up, and all being well, buy the truck off him, including a spare short bed. The truck started up cold with no effort, and overall looked to be in good shape. There were a number of marks against it, such as the condition of the weatherstripping and such, and I made note of them.

I had the owner take me for a drive, and took it for a spin as well. This was supposed to be the point that would seal the deal for buying it, and it had the opposite effect.

Contrary to comments from other classic truck owners, the interior was quite spacious, even for someone of my height. The bench seat was comfortable, and didn’t push me too far forward. These items weren’t the problem, though. The huge¬†steering wheel was almost right up to my stomach, the lack of power steering was giving my already sore shoulder fits, the shifter on the four speed was either pushing against my leg or way off in right field, the clutch engaged was so high I was kneeing the steering wheel, and the brake pedal sat so high up that I had great difficulty getting my foot onto it while getting my knee under the steering wheel.

These are all items I could fix, but there’s the rub. The whole point of this was to get something that, with little to no work, I could take out on weekends and putz around in until I got far enough along with on other projects (Airstream / MogRod). At that point I would be pulling the truck completely apart (more on that in a bit).¬† So while the truck was drive-able in its current state, it wasn’t drive-able for me. At least not without heavy modification.

After some extensive talking with my father at a coffee shop in town, I called up the seller, thanked him for his time, said I’d made the decision that I wasn’t going to buy the truck, and apologized if I’d inconvenienced him at all (which seems odd as I’m the one who’d just driven to another state to check out his truck, but I’m weird like that). And so my dad and I drove back home to the Bay Area from Oregon, talking a good deal of the way about how to approach this project going forward.

So what’s going on, and why did I say “yet”? Well, a little backstory for you. Around the start of this past summer, my dad came across a little Youtube series about a vehicle called the ‘Crown Hick’. A ’66 Ford F100 with a Crown Victoria Police Interceptor chassis swapped under it. We both came to the eventual agreement that it was a cool idea except that we didn’t care for the ’66 era F100 and the Crown Vic chassis made the bed area useless. A mid-fifty’s F100 was much more desirable stylistic speaking. After searching around for options, I recently came across a few owners who’d taken a 1997-2001 all wheel drive Ford Explorer and swapped the chassis from that under their mid-fifty’s F100. The results were very satisfactory, and still gave the old truck all the modern accouterments I desired.

Where this left me was having to buy two vehicles, or so I thought. A solid and complete ‘drive-able’ F100, and a AWD Explorer. I’d drive the F100 on occasion and my sis could drive the Explorer til it was time for the swap. After this trip up to Oregon, I realized I was half wrong in my approach. Still going to look for an Explorer, but instead of a full F100, I’m going to look for a ‘parts pile’ one. I don’t need the chassis, the drivetrain, or anything of that sort. If there’s some body rot, I can fix it (I want and need more welding practice anyways). It also means two other things. I should be able to spend dramatically less on the F100, and I’ll be able to bump up the budget on the Explorer a bit more to find one with fewer miles (less than 100,000).

I’m now sitting at home, exhausted (but unfortunately, at this late hour, not tired) from two full days of driving. I’m ever so slightly bummed I didn’t buy the truck, but far happier that I didn’t make the mistake of buying it. It would have sat around for who knows how long as a large eye-sore, and would have left me with more work to do for the wrong reasons. Instead, I’ve got an even more solid plan for how to end up with a damn cool classic truck. Back to the hunt.

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