Writen By: Matt Emery - for Truck Builder
This is an industry that is full of characters. We're not sure if it's because characters make good vehicles or that simply being in the custom vehicle business eventually makes characters out of builders. Either way, a warped sense of looking at things is usually present in the truly great ones, even if their greatest skills were self-promotion.
Then there are guys like Bob Carvajal, owner of Bobco Auto. Carvajal is a throwback to the days when hard work and taking pride in a job well done were all that mattered. While some builders only work toward winning certain trophies, Carvajol's priority seems to be making his customers happy.
He is self-deprecating in that his trucks have graced many a magazine page, yet he knows that in the end, he is only as good as his last happy customer. Take his latest work, this beautiful blue '56 F-100.
This fine Effie had the beginnings of a thoroughbred, as lurking beneath is a high-quality Walton Chassis frame. The Walton features a tube design based around twin rails that are made up of 1018 mild steel. Suspending the Ford in front is capably handled with the Mustang II IFSsystem, which brings not only great handling, but also sure disc braking to the truck.
Our back, a four-link setup cradles the shortened 9-inch rearend that is in charge of the power transfer chores. The perfect match for this classic is the set of five-spoke American Racing wheels although the fact that they are 17-inch does make things a bit more interesting. High-quality Nitro 50-series rubber provides equal amounts of performance and style that the rest of the truck exudes.
There are few outward modifications that one could point to and say that this F-100 is a true custom. However, up on closer inspection it becomes apparent this is one Effie that doesn't need gimmicks to be thought of as an outstanding truck. Sure, there are trick little tubs over the rear ties and the ends of the bed have been capped. And, of course, the truck has one of Bobco's signature gas-doors mounted into the rear fender, but this is a truck that can charm the observer without resorting to gaudy display.
As if to reiterate this "subtle-stylish" theme, rather than display wild graphics, the truck has been tastefully painted PPG "Bobco" blue, inside and out.
In keeping with the Bobco philosophy, the interior of this Ford is appointed beyond the norm, but it's also a cabin designed to be lived in and with. Although Bobco does all of the bodywork and paint, when it comes to interior work, he usually sends his Fords over to the capable crew at Custom Auto Interior in Bloomington, California. In keeping with the drive-daily aspects of the Ford, it was decided to use a set of Cadillac power seats. Of course, these were to be covered in leather - in this case, a two-tone blue - as were the door panels, headliner and front kick panel. The carpeting is gray.
A Bobco-designed and fabricated billet dash insert holds a complete set of VDO gauges and the Colorado Custom steering wheel sits atop a tilt-steering column. Also competing for space in the smoothed dash is the Vintage Air control panels and custom inset areas where the vents have been placed.
To make sure that the road is in no way boring, a Kenwood head unit is the foundation of the very capable stereo system. It is SIRIUS-compatible and connected to a 10-disc changer. The initial signals are routed through three two-channel amps before moving to the array of speakers. Even though the interior cab space may be small, the sound that the system produces is huge. The 6x9 inch three way Alpha Sonic speakers, Alpha Sonic subwoofer and a set of 6-1/2-inch separates fit into the front kick panel.
Beneath the tilt hood resides the only non-Ford pieces that Bobco will even consider (and only then if the customer wants it): a Chevrolet drive train. At least the customer wanted to have a period-looking engine and the Ramjet 350 does look sweet while infusing the Ford with power to spare. To provide good mileage as well as good performance, a Bow Tie 700R-R over-drive transmission was used.
Is Bobco the only shop around here that is worried as much about the product it produces as the prestige it garners? No. We can think of a few in our area that have the same attitude towards what it is that they do. But couple it with the fact that Carvajal is a genuinely nice guy and it is easy to see why Bobco has - and will - continue to flourish.