It takes a special combination to make me feature an old pickup truck. Many of them have wonderful stories to tell in all their scratches and dents, of fishing trips and construction jobs. Or the time they overheated and the owner kicked the fender in frustration. At the same time, though, I also factor in the vehicle's age, rarity and whether it's in good shape or has interesting patina. And while it seems like every other vintage custom truck out there is a 1956 Ford F-100 -- they have a cult following in the hot-rodding community -- I see very few unrestored stock examples - especially the much rarer long-bed variety.
What we have here isn't a shiny Viper Red or Tangelo metallic shortbed Effie with airbrushed flames and a chromed-out crate engine, it's a faded, rusted, dented old workhorse that still roams around the Mission District. I'd seen it before, but it wasn't parked on the street. Then, one day, it came to me. The big old beast was kind enough to show up just a block away from my university building downtown.
I've always been a big fan of the '56 F-100, with its wraparound windshield and chunky grille design. It just looked cool to me, more so than the conventional sloped A-pillars and V-notched grille of the '55 or the toothy fronts of the '53-54. The '56 was the final year of "classic" pickup design with running boards and fat fenders, and the last year in which a stepside bed was mandatory. And that Ford badge on the hood is one of the coolest emblems I've seen on a vehicle. This is no sissy truck, either. It has truck tires and a hefty diamond-plate rear bumper to show it means business. It also features the new-for-1956 272ci Y-block V8 engine producing 173 horsepower. The body is mostly solid, with some rust-through on the leading edge of the hood that's left orange tear stains on the white grille. There's something about surface rust that allows some vehicles to wear it like a red badge of courage, showing that it's been around and stood the test of time. This truck wears that patina well, though I'd prefer that the hood's rust holes be repaired. And I wish people would stop giving the meter maids an excuse to leave parking tickets on so many of the cool cars and trucks I find.