Mike Asbahr of Benchmark Fab & Finish has been wrenching on trucks long enough to be considered a professional. In his time of playing with and customizing pickups, he has owned many nice rides. One of those was a highly modified '81 Chevrolet C10 that was on the cover of Sport Truck back in December 1993. This C10 had everything from a corner-carving lowered chassis to blistered fenders with shortened wheel openings to a pie-cut front end. It was definitely a clean truck, and surprisingly enough Mike still owns and occasionally drives it.
These days, Mike still keeps himself busy working on trucks at his shop. When not laboring on his customers' rides, he can be found making this '61 Ford F-100 wilder than most. He originally got ahold of the truck through an ad he spotted in Truck Trader, and when Mike first saw it, it captivated him with its unibody design and big rear window. Though the owner wanted $1,100 for it, Mike was able to practically steal the truck for $500.
When he picked up the F-100, it was buried in the previous owner's backyard rotting away and was just barely able to power itself down the road. Once at Benchmark, Mike attacked the rust-infected areas of the body by cutting them out and patching them up. The majority of the damage was around the front of the bed, which has extra crossmembers to help strengthen the unibody. With these sections fixed, Mike was able to move forward with the customizing.
One of the things Mike likes to do to every truck he owns is to make them all super-low. On this Ford, Mike ditched the factory straight-axle-equipped frontend and replaced it with an independent front clip from a '71 Chevrolet Chevelle. After figuring out the desired height of the front clip, Mike fabricated a frame from the firewall back out of 2x4x1/8-inch rectangular steel tubing. With the frame welded up, a narrowed Ford 9-inch rearend was set in with Art Morrison ladder bars and modified leaf springs attached to custom shackles. The completed chassis gets this truck to sit only 3 inches off the ground, which in Mike's eyes is the perfect height for show and street.
When Mike built his '81 Chevy, it had a simple 350-cid Chevy small-block V-8. This time around, he wanted something that could get him in the triple-digit speeds a lot quicker. To achieve this, he located a rare Ford 600-cid Boss hemi V-8. Once he got his hands on the motor and was able to assemble it, he mounted it to his custom chassis. He then made a custom set of headers that go from 2-1/2-inch pipes to a 4-1/2-inch exhaust that exits through the bedsides. Because the motor had a very limited run, parts are hard to find and have a higher price tag. When Mike's wife, Sandi, was made aware of the motor's cost, she insisted on getting the kitchen of their house remodeled as compensation for letting him put big coin into the truck's powerplant. So, when people ask Mike how much the engine cost, he simply tells them, "It cost me a remodel of the kitchen."
Sandi has had other influences on this truck, including the purple-tinted primer that covers the surface of all of the truck's sheetmetal. At first, Mike just wanted to seal the bodywork of the exterior with a primer, so he didn't object to the light color because it was supposed to be temporary. However, it's been over five years since the primer was sprayed on, and Mike is now used to the color. We're sure that most people overlook the color when they lock their eyes on the motor that is so big it can't be contained under a hood. Either way you look at it, this F-100 is yet another example of how Mike has used his professional talents to turn an older truck into a wild street machine.