I purchased my ‘81 Ford in 1999 to replace a 1980 that was lost in an F5 tornado. The truck was in good condition with only 84K miles. It was a lower end F100 Custom but was unusually optioned with power steering, power brakes, 302 engine, auto transmission, factory tach, but without A/C or factory radio. The truck more than filled the bill of replacing the 1980 truck and was never purchased with any intent to rebuild or restore. In fact, I gave it to my son who owned it for approximately 5 years.
However, in an earlier life I had restored and rebuilt vehicles, and I missed the hobby. Always interested in doing something different, I conceived that the Ford stepside could be built to be something out of the ordinary. As it happened, the truck became available along with my retirement, and so the project was on. The build spanned over a 5-year period of part-time involvement. During that period I become a fan of metal fabrication, learning much from an experienced friend who assisted me with the details of the metal work. The modifications, although most are subtle, were very time-consuming and resulted in extending the overall time to complete the build. They included the transformation of door handle assemblies, removal of sidemarker lights, custom roll pan with custom tail lights, cowl hood, painted moldings, capped bed barrels, metal bed floor, recessed front bumper, and custom grille.
I completed the body work and final prep for painting as well as the final assembly of the painted sheet metal. The paint was applied by a friend and owner of a local rod shop. I installed the original overhauled engine and replaced the transmission with an AOD and a 3.55 Explorer 8.8” rear end assembly to add rear disc brakes. The king pin front suspension was exchanged for an ‘84 model year ball joint assembly to accommodate DJM 3 inch dropped beams. I installed ‘82-‘83 XLS interior trim with Ford period correct bucket seats and console; along with new door panels, dash pad, headliner, and refinished XLS interior trim pieces. Power door locks were added. A factory A/C dash and A/C components from a 1980s Ford dealer installed A/C unit were modified and installed.
The truck was finished in 2016. It has been entered in a few car shows where it has not failed to place. It has recently traveled to the Ft. Worth spring and fall Goodguys events and the 41st F100 Supernationals. The truck was received well at both events, with spectators asking questions and showing interest. Many indicated that they were pursuing a project of the same make and vintage. Hopefully this project will inspire others to pursue a restoration of the Ford “Bullnose.”