Wicked When Wet
Writen By: Rich Boyd, for Custom Classic Trucks
Look closely and you can see little raindrops on Clifford Long's blue '56 Ford F-100 panel. As rain descends on the well-polished hood and roof, water forms a pattern of puddles so perfectly arranged you could almost imagine it as graphic art. Why was the Bobco-built panel sitting patiently in the rain at Goodguy's Fall Classic in Pleasanton, California? We were meeting Cliff to photograph the panel for a CCT feature - but as we loaded film, dark clouds descended, creating a low ceiling overhead. But we were on a mission. Exposing the medium-format transparency film in our Pentax for much longer periods than normal, we were able to color-saturate the film to deeper tones with no washout by sunspots or bright sky.
Cliff seemed a bit nervous, like an expectant father - he had only recently taken delivery of the hand-me-down truck that had been under construction for eight years. While not an unusually long time for a vehicle of this quality, Cliff had made a promise to his cousin Kenny Butler years ago to make the panel a showstopper. Cliff was determined to finish the job as he promised - and we agree it's a right fine piece of work.
Bobco Blue isn't exactly a high-chroma color that scorches your eyeballs - it's more a transient color that changes moods in different light levels. In low light, it's actually a richer color of blue than in direct sunlight. Patient photographers prefer to photograph vehicles in low light levels when the surface development of the body is more evident, so the rain was only a minor inconvenience. What should be much more obvious is how straight and smooth the big panel really is - even in the low light.
When Cliff pulled the rear double doors open, we saw the cave-like quarters behind the driver and passenger seat. The insides of the panel are as inviting with a tweed and leather combination that suits the simple-but- sanitary character of the blue truck. Actually, we liked everything about this We-100. But next time, Cliff, could you hold that umbrella just a shade more to the windward?
Drivetrain: A well-detailed TPI 454ci Chevy Engine resides under the side-for- ward and tilt-up hood. Highlights include custom-built headers, billet valve covers, and twin electric fans in a radiator shroud. The powerplant is backed by a 700-R4 AOD trans to a narrowed Ford 9-inch rear end with 4.11:1 gears.
Chassis: The chassis is original, but it's all been smoothed and painted Bobco Blue. Disc brakes are located at the corners. The suspension is a combination of leaf springs and airbags.
Wheels & Tires: Painted steelies wear BFGoodrich rubber up front and Mickey Thompson Pro-Wides in the rear. The wheels are 15x8 in the front and 15x15 out back.
Body: The hood and front fenders are welded to create a one-piece tilt- forward unit. One hundred and fifty-six cubic feet of carpeted playhouse live behind the front seats. The welded rear fender seams look like a custom feature, but were always part of the stock body.
Paint: Single-stage Bobco Blue
Interior: Radi's Custom Upholstery in Garden Grove, California, stitched the gray tweed/leather interior and carpeted the floor. Neat Storage boxes were built into the sides of the cargo area, where wheel tubs take up some of the space, but this faithful Ford Panel's heavy hauling days are over. Auto Meter gauges are mounted to a custom billet panel in the original position. And as for the door glass? Like everything about this weather beater, it's strictly electric.