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'59 Ford Version 2.0

In May of 2014, I wrote about and posted pictures of the removal of the '59's body from its frame.  I laid out my plans to take that body and put it on a newer truck's frame to gain all the pretty little things I wanted for the '59 such as power disk brakes, power steering, a beefier frame and suspension better suited for towing, a carbureted 302 engine, etc.

In that blog, I shared this screenshot of a Craigslist ad displaying just the kind of truck I thought I needed.  I'm glad I didn't have the means at the time to purchase a truck because I would've wound up with this truck or one just like it and it wouldn't have worked.

Much to my disappointment but also relief that I hadn't already made the mistake of making a purchase, I found out through online forums and one particularly helpful website that my '59 had a 118" wheelbase (measured distance from the center of the front wheel to the center of the rear wheel).  The '59 is a long bed so, naturally, I was in the market for a long bed.  But, not all long beds were created equally, I have since learned.  My requirements for power steering and power brakes meant that the truck I bought would have to be a '73 or newer since that's when they started making those things standard.  The problem is that in that time span Ford had increased the stability of their long bed pickups by increasing the wheelbase from 118" to 133".  If I had bought a long bed, I would've been horrified when finding that there would be a 16" space between my cab and the bed when putting the '59 body on it instead of a normal 1" gap.

If I would've done that, the only way to fix it is to chop the frame shorter, but that is super complicated and precision work that I am not qualified to do.  Also, that requires shortening the driveshaft, replacing brake lines, etc, etc.  Much more work than necessary.  And many more expenses, at that.

The solution:  Look for a short bed.  Short bed ford pickups with the standard cab, starting in '73, had a 117" wheelbase all the way through '96.  With only an inch difference, no one will notice that the wheels are each 1/2" closer to the center of the vehicle.

The requirement of a carburetor though would give me a maximum year of '84.  In '85, fuel injection became standard.  Carburetors are less fuel efficient and get worse fuel mileage, but they are adjustable and easy to work on.  They require no computers or sensors to make your motor run correctly unlike fuel injection systems.  With computers and a multitude of sensors, diagnosing engine troubles becomes a sophisticated guessing game where the needless replacement of parts is common and emotions can run high.  In contrast, carburetors get the job done even if they need some adjusting.

I also discovered on this online forum that I should avoid an '80 through early '82 Ford because they were made with what is now referred to as the "swiss cheese" frame.  Ford did this to lighten the vehicle,  I hear, but it also significantly weakened it. A quick Google search will return many photos of trucks with twisted frames.  Ford learned from their mistake in subsequent years.

So, I was looking for a good-running carbureted 302, automatic, short bed, standard cab Ford truck that was a '73-'79 or '83-'84.  Oh, and did I mention super cheap, too?

With all the requirements I had, it was proving to be something of a unicorn, it seemed.  Short beds weren't all that common in those years to begin with.  And, for good reason.  I don't like them.  4x8 sheets are common in construction from drywall to plywood to foam sheets, etc.  You know why?  Because, it's what fits in a truck bed.  Granted, you can haul them in a short bed with the tailgate down.  But, nothing beats loading a stack of drywall sheets in your long bed truck and casually shutting the tailgate.  No need for straps or flags.  Just a lift of the tailgate and you're done.  Now, you could argue that the long bed was designed for the standard size sheet of construction material instead of the other way 'round.  But, I could, in turn, call you names to your face.  So there.  ;)

After some good long searching, I finally found it.  A 1984 Ford F-150 with a good-running carbureted 302, automatic, short bed, standard cab.  It was a little more than what I wanted to pay, but I got a little more than what I expected to get, too.  It came with a nice "mechless" head unit with remote, 400w amp, and quality 6x9 speakers so I'm all set to put a good little sound system in the '59.  It also came with a full set of custom 8" wide wheels with 33" tires (seen on the rear only the picture here).  The tires are pretty worn, but they'll do until I'm ready to put on some new ones.  I love the lifted look.and it has me considering installing a 3" body lift as I put the '59 body on it.

The '84 body is in really great shape.  I will list the body at two prices once I get it off, all together at a good price as well as individually at a higher piece price.  I suspect that I should have no trouble selling it since I have personally seen lots of body parts being sold quick on Craigslist for these models in all my searching.  Especially, in the good shape that this one is in.  That will help to offset the cost of buying the truck in the first place.

This is what I'm going for.  I don't know if I'm settled on the paint scheme, but right now I feel like this it what I will likely do.  This is the original two-tone paint scheme and I think that it shows off the style of the truck the best.  The original designers knew what they were doing to highlight the features of the shape.  When these are painted a solid color, they look good, for sure.  But, I feel like the solid color lacks proper definition of the unique shape of the body.  I'm not a huge fan of red, normally.  But, for some reason, I'm not sure what, it's red that stands out as the color I like most for this truck.

Here are some other colors.  What do you think?  Leave a comment of your favorite.  I promise not to call you names to your face. ;)


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