Rob Campbell doesn’t remember a day of his life growing up where there wasn’t a family owned Ford truck sitting in the driveway. “My dad was always a big Ford fan, and with the exception of a 30-day period when we had a loaner Chevy, he’s always had a Blue Oval workhorse of his own,” Rob states. So it was only natural that when Rob wanted to build a hot rod truck with all the fixings, it would have to be a Ford. That would certainly make his dad proud.
Rob grew up along the mighty Mississippi, moving from Iowa to Illinois and finally south to St Louis, Missouri, where he ended up making his home. His dad was a “hands-on” guy and managed a small, local lumberyard. His pop taught him everything he knew, from landscaping to construction and even something that would come into greater use: auto repair.
Since Rob grew up in such a dedicated Ford family, it’s only natural that when the time came, he would follow suit. Even though he has owned a few Jeeps and Chevys over the years, Rob has always maintained a Ford truck. Today you’ll find his daily driver 2017 Ford F10 King Ranch in the driveway, ready to do his daily chores and scratch that Dearborn-bred itch he’d cultivated his entire life.
Though he loves his late-model trick truck, stuffed with the modern conveniences that make life a little easier these days, Rob still felt he was missing something. Deep down he wanted a ride that harkened back to his childhood, and his dad’s old-school Ford rides. So he started looking for a suitable project ride that could be built into a modern-day killer with the vintage looks he craved.
Rob always liked the look of the ’50s Blue Oval pickups. In his book, their styling just couldn’t be topped. So with that thought running circles in his head, he decided to look for a good example that would not only be a good builder, but one that would fulfill his checklist aesthetic values.
He soon came upon a nice 1953 50th anniversary edition F-100 for sale not far away, in Lebanon, Illinois, and decided to take a look. It still boasted its original flathead and three-speed transmission, as well as its original frame. There was some replaced sheetmetal and swathes of excessive filler, which was covered with a poor paintjob over its flanks. But Rob saw the big picture here and knew this ride could be his needed starting point to this build.
The seller was surprised he didn’t bring a trailer with him, but Rob insisted that if he bought the truck, he had every intention of hitting the road and driving the long dormant truck the 40 miles back home. Once a deal was struck he stayed true to his promise and took on the road with the sleepy 1953. He got just 4 miles from home when the truck just flat-out gave up. Now it was time for a tow truck!
Once home, Rob game-planned how he would upgrade the needy F-100 and get her roadworthy. The short list soon turned into a much longer list of needs and wants. Soon he realized to get her close to driveable he had to replace the wiring, add power steering and brakes, install a new bed out back, and, of course, do some much-needed bodywork and paint on the poorly redone body.
Unfortunately the project never hit stride. Due to work and family activities, spare time was hard to come by. However in the summer of 2015 Rob met the guys from Classic Car Studios (CCS) from right there in St. Louis, Missouri. The shop was making waves through their incredible restorations and forward-thinking customs. Rob went over to take a peek at the shop and check out their build quality work firsthand and was undoubtedly floored by what he saw. After some serious deliberation, Rob made the decision to let CCS do an entire makeover of the 1953. Game on!
Rob knew exactly what he desired in his new ride. He definitely wanted to keep the original look and styling of the truck, with little or no body changes made to its original lines. Right off the bat, there was a small skirmish over losing the front and rear bumpers between Rob and CCS designer Eric Brockmeyer. After some deliberation, Eric won out, and the bumpers were shaved off. Rob admits he’s happy now with the designer’s decision! He then gave CCS ample space to use their creative juices to design and build this insane ride from the ground up. The owner had one non-negotiable request; the engine had to be a Ford! No problem here sir! CCS was happy to oblige.
So the crew at CCS battened down and took on the 1953 for its full-on transformation into the ballsy show truck they all knew it could be. The Ford was disassembled and taken down to its metal skin. From there were some small rust issues that had to be handled, replacing panels with fresh pieces supplied by LMC Truck. Next the crew prepared for a few slight alterations to the body that would not take away from its original look. CCS first narrowed and tucked the running boards on the flanks and then went on to shave the driprails and cowl vent and louvers for a cleaner look.
Next up, a custom roll pan with a center exhaust port and hand-beaded firewall were added to the list of subtle changes. Out back, a set of frenched taillights and a custom inner bed with wheeltubs finish off the truck’s exoskeleton mods here. Last but not least, the interior received a shaved dash, removing the vents and glovebox for an overall smoother look. Once it was ready, the body was basted a custom mix of Glasurit green base/clearcoat, a color that was inspired by the family’s deep green 1976 Ford Elite. Out back, a new oakwood bed was custom fit and installed.
As for the chassis, several upgrades were made to help this ride perform out on the street. A TCI custom IFS suspension with RideTech shocks all around is the basis for the undercarriage of this stealthy truck. A TCI four-link setup handles the suspension chores out back.
Rob insisted that this truck run under Ford power, and he got what he asked for. A Ford Racing Boss 302 was sourced out for the engine bay. At 345 hp out of the box, it’s got more than adequate power to propel this sporty truck down the byways of Missouri. A Bowler-TREMEC TKO 500 five-speed trans with a Centerforce clutch helps pull this ride through the gears. This all feeds a Ford 9-inch posi-traction rear outback, which is stuffed with road friendly 3.50 gears. All that power goes to a pair of 20×12 Hot Rods by Boyd Columbus wheels wrapped in 335/30ZR/20 meats out back. Up front, a set of 20×8.5 Columbus wheels shod in 245/40ZR/20 handle the duties.
Rob didn’t skimp on the cockpit of this vintage truck. The original seat was tossed in favor of a Glide Engineering bench seat. Like many of the CCS builds, this one is also finished off with Relicate leather. This particular interior was done in Amber Glow distressed leather, which accentuates the paint on this truck perfectly. An original 1940 Ford steering wheel was added and covered in Relicate as well to bring it all together. Classic Instruments gauges bring a vintage feel with modern performance. A Kicker audio system brings the soundtrack for this truck’s future adventures.
The Ford was christened “Betty” by Rob in honor of his dad’s sister Betty Ilene. “A classy lady with a lot of fire and attitude,” Rob states. Definitely a good fit for this feisty F-100. And no doubt, this ride runs as good as it looks, with attitude to spare. A plus here for Rob was that the truck build was featured on Speed is the New Black, the hit new show on the Velocity Channel featuring Classic Car Studio. Future plans: after winning some local top honors, “Betty” will be in the MagnaFlow booth at SEMA this fall! Stop by and say hello to one classy hot rod truck!
Original Article: hotrod.com