Everything old is cool again, and what's cooler than putting modern touches on a truck that's been in the family since the beginning? My grandfather, Ernie Blumer, bought a '73 Ford F-100 4x4 brand new from Beley & Johnson Ford in Harlowton, Montana. At the time, Harlowton was a thriving small town along the tracks of the Milwaukee Road railroad. "Grandad" Blumer worked for the Milwaukee Road as an engineer and drove the F-100 on his days off. The truck led a rugged life, hauling everything from firewood and fishing poles to golf carts and hay bales to freshly-gutted deer after a successful day's hunt.
Times have changed. Grandad's been gone for 20 years, and the Milwaukee Road now exists in memories, monuments, and museums. After the railroad pulled out of Harlowton, the town became a shadow of its former self.
The F-100 has languished a bit, too. Daylight shows through the rusty floorboards in a couple spots, and it's about impossible to find a body panel that's not faded, dented, or both. There are grand plans for Grandad's truck, but first things first: It's gotta run.
The FE 360 Big-Block under the hood has never functioned well. It's a heavy engine, topped off by a bulky, cast-iron intake manifold. It gets worse. In 1973, emissions equipment was in its infancy, and cut out more power than it did emissions. Less horsepower meant it took more throttle (and thereby more gasoline) to do the same work. Far from an ideal scenario.
So we've got a dented, rusty old truck that runs like it's got a banana in the tailpipe. Why bother? Why is everything old cool again? Nostalgia, heritage, and freedom. We've discussed nostalgia and heritage, so what about freedom? The '73 F-100 is old enough that it's no longer subject to emission controls and smog checks. This freedom means the poorly-working OEM parts can be ditched and replaced with performance parts that will wake up the anemic engine. It's time for a Big-Block revival.