Ford F-100 – September/October 2011 Cover Story
Patrick Ertel

1956 Ford F-100

The 1956 Ford F-100 that appears on the cover of the September/October 2011 issue of Vintage Truck magazine was purchased by Mike D’Annunzio had the goal of reproducing his father’s truck, complete with all the bells and whistles available. The 1956 Ford “Triple Economy Trucks” were billed with “New Power! New Comfort! New Styling! New Lifeguard Design!”

What else is in this issue?

Features

  • Ford’s 1979 Rancheros
  • My Truck Nearly Killed Me
  • 1964 Pontiac Bonneville
  • 1929 Whippet
  • 1955 International R-110
  • 1971 Service Station Special
  • Jeep’s Service Station Special
  • 1947 WDX and 1951 B-3-PW Power Wagon

Departments

  • Delivery Designs – Chevrolet Task Force Delivery Trucks, Part 2
  • Notes from the Corrosion Lab – Safety With Gasoline
  • Chevy Talk – 1927 One-ton
  • Working Trucks – Fleet Leader
  • Triple Diamond Treatise – Post Mortem Junkyard Review
  • Wagon Wheels – Ford Model A Station Wagons
  • Dodge Garage – 1982 and 1984 Rampage
  • Model Maker’s Corner – Studebaker Models: The Sequel
  • Tailgate Talk – Adopt-A-Highway
  • Tech Tips – Roadside hell: Repairs on the Run
  • For Ford Fans – 1939 COE 1 1/2-ton

If you can't find Vintage Truck on a newsstand near you, call 800-767-5828 or visit our Gift Shop to order current or back issues. To subscribe, call 888-760-8108 or click here.


Cool!

Ford F-100

By Mike D’Annunzio

The first owner of this 1956 Ford F-100 farmed in the countryside near York, Pennsylvania. He purchased the truck new from Carl Beasley Ford who is still in business today but at a different location.

The second owner, who sold the pickup to me, was the original owner’s grandson, and he bought it from his grandfather’s estate in 1972. This man parked the Ford in his barn in 1978 when he purchased a 4X4 truck that was better suited for Pennsylvania’s snowy winter roads.

I bought the Ford through eBay in August 2007. The original service envelope, which was kept in the glove box, had the dealer’s and buyer’s names and date of purchase.

One of the first things I did after buying the truck was check the mechanical systems. I hired a local mechanic to service the brakes with new lines, shoes, and so forth. The fuel system got a carburetor rebuild, new fuel lines, and new fuel pump. A new water pump was installed along with all new hoses and belts. The old bias-ply tires were replaced with new, wide whitewalls from Universal Tires in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I like radials for comfort and safety.

I believe the only option that the original owner ordered was the V-8 engine. I decided to upgrade the truck to the “custom cab” quality. To that end I installed a fender-mounted spare tire and its accompanying dimpled fender. The truck now has a deluxe wheel cover, all four beauty rings with the new hubcaps, and a modern radio mounted on the ceiling near where the original speaker would have been. The truck sports other optional accessories, including a dome light, a 6-inch spotlight with the Ford logo, windshield washer system, a reproduced original-style rear bumper, and the very rare “bird” hood ornament.

The refurbished interior was styled similar to Ford’s custom cab. The original seat was stripped down and rebuilt with new burlap and extra padding and upholstered with materials similar to Ford’s offerings, complete with three bolsters. The entire headliner was replaced with new material, and I replaced the driver’s side sun visor and installed a visor on the passenger’s side as well. Full carpeting was installed with original-style kick plates. More added features include seat belts, door panels, and armrests on both doors. Ford offered an extra door lock on the driver’s side door in its custom cabs, but that has not been installed as of this writing. I replaced the broken glass in the driver’s door and a foggy vent window.

Cab clearance lights, which Ford called ICC lights, have been added. Even though I do not smoke, I installed a cigar lighter. It looks original, and I can use it to charge my cell phone.

Many parts are now remanufactured because of the great demand, and that was useful for this project. I want to thank the following for their help in furnishing parts and/or their excellent craftsmanship: Robert Cooper for mechanical and electrical work; Oxford Auto Body; M and A Upholstery, who did the seat; and the Ford vendors, including Mac’s Antique Auto Parts, Dennis Carpenter, C and G Early Ford Parts, and Mid Fifty F-100 Parts.

Decked Out Like Dad’s

There is a method to my madness for adding options to my Ford. My late father owned a truck very similar to mine. It was the same color as mine, which is Meadow Green, and he was the second owner. The original owner of his truck raced midget cars for a living, and he used the truck to tow his cars. That truck had a Thunderbird Special V-8 under the hood and the Ford-O-Matic transmission, which was a 1956 option. My truck has the 272ci V-8 rated at 168hp, which I find is pretty fast. The other V-8 offered in 1956 was a 292ci.

Because the original owner of Dad’s Ford was a NASCAR fan, he had NASCAR decals on the windshield, and in the place where the custom cab door logos normally go, the first owner put Ford’s T-Bird checkered flags instead. How cool is that?

Occasionally when Dad dropped us off at school, my classmates would remark how cool his truck was. Naturally, I wanted to duplicate the cool touches on Dad’s truck as much as possible on my own truck. His Ford also had the optional black painted grille guard, which I did not want to install. Power brakes were also available back then, but mine do a good job of stopping.

Soon after I began to sand and strip the paint, I decided to use a professional body shop to get a great job done on the exterior. I hired Fred Smith, owner of Oxford (Pennsylvania) Auto Body, who did about 20 percent less than a total frame-off job. He installed the black rubber welts between each fender before they were reinstalled. Also, he wet sanded between coats of paint and undercoated the entire underneath of the truck, which had accumulated surface rust while it had sat in the barn. I get many compliments about Fred’s good work.

The truck had been repainted once since it was new, and the bed wood was not too bad. I stripped off some old paint and got it down to bare wood. I then stained it an oak color and applied four coats of marine spar varnish. I painted the steel strips with chrome paint. It is not the same as stainless steel, but it is not a bad finish.

The 1956 Ford F-100 is a popular pickup because of its styling and good looks. Ford advertised them as “Triple Economy Trucks” with “New Power! New Comfort! New Styling! and New Lifeguard Design!”

If you can't find Vintage Truck on a newsstand near you, call 800-767-5828 or visit our Gift Shop to order current or back issues. To subscribe, call 888-760-8108 or click here.

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