1974 Ford F-100. My dad wanted a truck, but really couldn’t justify having four vehicles for two licensed drivers (before I got my license). I wanted an 87-89 Mustang 5.0L (and I still do to this day). One day when I was 15 years old, right before I left to catch the bus for school, my dad said something to the effect that he was going to pick up what was going to be my mode of transportation when got my license. I asked what it was going to be. He said “Well, it’s got two doors, a V8, and a manual transmission.” I was definitely hoping dad was going to come through with that V8 Mustang, as he had a 1967 K Code Mustang when he was in high school. But of course when I got home that day, in the driveway was 20 year old, rusty, barely running, pickup truck with a bad clutch, and at least 160k miles on it, possible 260k, we weren’t really sure and apparently the previous owner wasn’t either.
It didn’t have A/C, It didn’t have power steering, it didn’t have power brakes, it didn’t have 3 point seat belts, it had a 3 on the tree, the upholstery was mostly duct tape, it had an 8 track player that didn’t work. I was informed that this was going to be our project and that we had several months to restore it, and make it presentable, and that I wanted to use it, I was going to have to put in my fair share of sweat equity. I learned a few years later that dad had paid “about $800” for this specimen.
Now, I wasn’t opposed to idea of pickup truck, and I had a feeling that was what I was going to end up with. But I was expected something somewhat newer, like an 86-89 model. Something that had A/C, power steering/brakes/etc. I also was hoping for a 4WD truck, but my dad to this day, claims that “you don’t need it.”, it should be pointed out that during out last snow storm, my dad couldn’t make it out of his driveway with his current 2WD 2002 F-150, but I digress…
Anyway, the restoration went smoothly, we were in no hurry. The smog-era 2bbl 302 was deemed inadequate, so we found a junkyard 390 4bbl, and rebuilt it, warming it over a little ( a little hotter cam, had the heads decked and cleaned up, and medium rise aluminum intake with a 650 cfm carb, we wanted to do headers, but couldn’t find any that were reasonably priced so that didn’t happen. But the 390 was definitely more potent than the 302, we found a Ford 9 inch center section with 4.11 gears and swapped those in place of the stock 3.08 gears (I think). New tires, new brakes, had the truck repainted, had the seat redone (new foam and upholstery, put a radio in with four new speakers (had to put the rear speakers in coffee cans), put in a headliner of sorts, repainted the dash and interior, had the wagon wheels media blasted and we repainted them, and got new center caps, and a bedliner, basically we restored the truck over the course of 8 months or so.
The only thing that wasn’t replaced was the clutch. Dad’s reasoning was that I was going to burn up a clutch whilst learning to drive stick (particularly 3 on the tree), and he didn’t want me to ruin a new clutch. Fortunately I was a quick study and it only took me about 30 minutes to get the hang of it. Dad held off on the clutch for few months, which was annoying.
We did make a slight oversight during the restoration process. We kept the same radiator, the stock radiator cooled the 302 just fine, but it struggled mightily cooling the 390 when the outside temps got above 90 or so. During hot weather, it was okay at highway speed, but if you were going up a mountain maybe doing 40 MPH, there was a good chance you were going to have to pull over and let the engine cool down before you reached the top. And with the added weight of the big block and no power steering, parking was a chore.
I drove the F-100 through my last two years of high school, I won’t lie, I hooned it quite a bit, the torque of the 390 plus the 4.11 gears, and the fact that the truck didn’t carry much weight over the rear wheels made girl-impressing* burnouts a regular occurrence. And since there were a fair amount of out-in-the-country dirt roads, I lived out some my Dukes of Hazzard fantasies. However I never put a dent or even a noticeable scratch on the truck. I never broke anything on it, or had it break down on me (aside from the overheating thing) I had invested too much time and effort into it.
*turns out girls generally aren’t swept off their feet by a heroic burnout.
I drove the truck until I was 18, and my late grandmother, decided that it was a deathtrap and she would not have her favorite grandchild driving around in that. She then bought me a 1992 Ford Thunderbird SC for my 18th birthday and I drove that through most of my college years. The T-Bird was like something out of Star Trek compared to the F-100, it had A/C power everything, even an oil change monitor, and adjustable shocks. It was also faster and handled/braked much better.