We feature a fair few trucks here in Classic American; not at all surprising with their current popularity, and a fair few of them have received modifications to make them more reliable and suitable for British roads. However, it’s rare that we see a truck taken to the level that Valley Gas Speed Shop has taken David Carr’s slick 1970 F100, especially as it’s David’s first venture into American vehicle ownership. We’ll get into the full description in a bit, but first we asked David, a company owner from Winchester in Hampshire, what attracted him to not only truck ownership, but to a full-on custom build.
David told us: “I’ve always owned sports cars mainly, not as a hobby or anything, just my preferred mode of transport. But like many guys my age, you end up watching all these US TV shows, with cool and different machinery, and I just thought, this looks really interesting, and it sort of went from there.” With his background in owning decent handling and very drivable cars, this ethos remained with him, right down to the preference for finding a right-hand-drive American vehicle to own, rather than a ‘left hooker’.
A suitable candidate was spotted on eBay with this ’70 F100 truck, a body style he’s always liked. Although it was imported from South Africa in 2015, it took two more owners and another two years before David finally got his hands on it. His original idea was to get the truck fixed up enough to serve as a promotional vehicle for his business, and so he took it to Jimmy and Ellie Hibberd’s Valley Gas Speed Shop in nearby Andover for a visual inspection and report. Ideas were discussed, suggestions were made, from which a plan was formed, and the truck took its turn waiting for a build slot in Valley Gas’ busy diary.
With David’s previously mentioned desire for performance and ‘drivability’, attributes not normally associated with 50-year-old pick-up trucks, a radical approach needed to be adopted and, as with every performance build, this starts with the chassis. Fortunately, the average American truck chassis is a stout affair, and so the original frame was fully boxed and fitted with extra tubular cross members for added strength. Naturally, the truck would need to sit a lot lower than stock, and so the rear frame rails were ‘C’ notched for rear axle clearance. A new nine-inch Currie ‘locker’ rear axle with SVO disc brakes was mounted on a four-bar set-up with AFCO adjustable coil-over shocks and a Panhard locating rod.
A lot of time was spent by Jimmy and crew working out the optimum ride height, resulting in the six-inch overall drop. To achieve this at the front, a complete new independent front suspension was ordered from Kugel Components in California. Kugel is well-known for its hot rod and custom independent set-ups but rarely is the company asked to build an IFS for a right-hand-drive vehicle. As a result, Jimmy collaborated with KK’s Jeff Kugel to produce a one-off unit for the truck, complete with QA1 adjustable front shocks and Kugel’s own two-inch dropped front spindles, while retaining the stock Ford hub and stud pattern. A custom right-hand-drive steering rack was also built by Kugel, the front end fitted with Wilwood four-pot polished calipers and slotted front discs operated via a Hydroboost brake system. This combination of aftermarket parts forms a tried and tested recipe for decent handling, even with heavy American body styles, including trucks, so the build was already headed in the right direction; all it needed now was a decent powerplant.
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