Steve Owens has always been proud to drive this '61 Ford F-100 and had never put any thought into fully customizing it. It's been in his family since it was almost new, and when he acquired it the truck was still in good condition. It came in handy as a daily driver and for hauling tools and equipment. This constant use got Steve thinking about a swap of the original inline-six engine for something more powerful. Because this modification is very involved, he never took his idea too seriously.
Things remained this way until the subject of upgrading the engine to a V-8 came up while Steve was having a beer at a local bar. There, he met a guy who claimed he could get it done and convinced him to take the Ford to his shop. Once there, it was prepped for the transplant of a 460-cid Ford engine and a few other goodies like a suspension from a '95 Corvette. Initially the truck was to only get a V-8, but other ideas popped up and the mods lists started to grow. As the project got more complicated, the guy commissioned to build it started to drag his feet and pushed the truck off to the side.
Six years later, the Ford was still at the shop, and Steve desperately wanted to see some progress. Nothing got done, so he made other plans with Don Lindfors of Altered Engineering to have it completed. The second phase of the build started with the big-block V-8 receiving a pile of performance parts. Once assembled, the motor was raised over the framerails and mounted 6 inches behind the factory mounts on the frame. This aids in cornering by balancing the weight toward the center, maintaining the functionality of a g-machine. Repositioning the motor created a few obstacles like firewall clearance and placement of the hydrobooster braking system. However, Don simply made a new firewall and mounted the brake system to a section of the frame under the cab.
With the motor in, Don moved on to completing the road-hugging chassis. Although the Corvette front suspension was already in place, it needed a little tweaking to make the steering functional. The independent rear end from the same donor Corvette was used to keep up performance and handling. The IRS was accommodated with a custom step notch and crossmember on the frame. Then, an aluminum driveshaft was fabricated to transfer power between the Ford C6 transmission and the Vette Posi.
For the exterior, Don began by filling in emblem holes and various sheetmetal seams with lead. That was followed by widening the wheelwells in the bed and installing a sheetmetal floor with a trap door to access the custom fuel cell and rear suspension. The truck was then sent to Les Baker to get body-worked and painted with a classic flamejob. Reyes Upholstery laid down all new skins and threads inside the cab.
Though Steve only planned to have a V-8 dropped in his F-100, he wound up with a much-improved custom truck. It may have taken awhile to build, but the reward of owning this wild, performance-based g-machine was well worth the wait.
Owner/hometown: Steve Owens / Santa Ana, California
Year/make/model: '61 Ford F-100 Unibody shortbed
Balanced and blueprinted '70 Ford 460-cid V-8 engine set back 6 inches on the frame / JE pistons / Dove Performance iron heads / Ford Racing valve covers / Crane Cams camshaft / Aeromotive complete fuel system / MSD ignition / Optima RedTop battery / polished Edelbrock intake manifold / Holley Street Avenger 770-cfm carburetor with PowerCharger air cleaner / March Performance complete billet serpentine system / custom-made ceramic-coated headers / custom exhaust with Spin Tech mufflers and tips exiting through bedsides / remote oil and transmission coolers with fans / aluminum radiator / B-Cool electric radiator fan with aluminum shroud / Mooneyes spun-aluminum water-recovery tank / braided stainless steel hoses / Ford C6 automatic transmission / TCI StreetFighter torque converter / Lokar shifter / custom polished aluminum driveshaft
By: Altered Engineering, Orange, California
Front: 17x8 Foose Nitrous 2
Rear: 18x10 Foose Nitrous 2
Front: 245/45ZR17 Nitto NT555 Extreme
Rear: 295/45ZR18 Nitto NT555 Extreme
Front: Polished and cleared '95 Corvette independent front suspension / KYB shocks
Rear: Polished and cleared '95 Corvette independent rear suspension / KYB shocks
Accessories: Custom stainless steel fuel cell / hydroboost brake system
Chassis: Step notch with crossmember / powdercoated frame
By: Altered Engineering
Stake pockets, body seams, and emblem hole filled with lead / shaved wiper cowl and tailgate / reverse-opening hood / rear wheelwell widened / custom firewall / sheetmetal bed floor with trap door to access fuel tank and rear suspension / laser-cut vents in fenders
By: Altered Engineering
Black with traditional flamejob and blue pinstriping
By: Les Baker, Costa Mesa, California
Glide Engineering split bench seat with armrest / leather headliner / leather door panels with flames / custom kick panels / German square-weave black carpet / smoothed dash / custom gauge panel with Auto Meter gauges / Vintage Air A/C system / Billet Specialties steering wheel / Flaming River steering column / Lokar pedals
By: Reyes Upholstery, Anaheim, California / Altered Engineering
Sony Xplod head unit / two speakers in kick panels
By: Altered Engineering
Everyone who helped bring this truck to completion, including Doug