Firing Up the Way-Back Machine
You may have looked at the cover and thought it was 1980 all over again. Ronald Reagan was heading to the White House, KISS was still in makeup, and '79 trucks were factory fresh. Well, it's 2000, we're about to be saddled with one of two dweebs as Executive Chief, and Gene Simmons looks like a wax figure under a heat lamp, but Brett Gauld's '79 F-150 is still looking showroom fresh.
Brett says he built the Ford because he felt that the older generation of vehicles was dying out. While that may or may not be true, the result of the eight-month project is an extremely clean, customized, retrofied classic. Brett blended old and new styling to create a ride that would look as at-home on the cover of the Oct. '80 issue of 4-Wheel and Off-Road as it does on the Oct. 2000 issue.
It's no secret that Ford had its head on straight in the '70s. Broncos and F-series pickups came from the factory with wish-list parts. Therefore, it's understandable why Brett kept the stock drivetrain-why mess with a good thing? Underneath, the factory 3.55 gears still fill the front Dana 44 and limited-slipped Ford 9-inch. The original C6 was given a TCI shift kit and runs through the stock cooler. The NP205 transfer case is as bombproof as the day it left the assembly line even though it hasn't been rebuilt in 20 years.
With the rest of the drivetrain in such good shape, Brett was able to sink some coin into the engine. The 400 was pulled and bored 0.030 over. The fresh holes were filled with flat-top pistons from NAPA that provide an 8.25:1 compression ratio with the unaltered heads. A Competition Cams stick featuring 219/232 degrees of lift at 0.050 and 0.515/0.541 inch of lift warms things considerably, and the Edelbrock Torker manifold is able to handle all the fuel the Holley 750 double-pumper can throw at it. An MSD distributor, 6AL, and coil zap the mixture and it all exits through 111/42-inch primary Hedman headers and a 2 1/2-inch Flowmaster muffler.
While the engine was out, the entire engine compartment, interior, and body were smoothed out and shot in Lazer Red by Mel's Custom Shoppe in Buellton, California. Brett's dad, Randy, fashioned the front and rear prerunner bumpers.
The stock suspension was axed in favor of a Rancho 3-inch suspension kit with Rancho RS 5000 shocks at each corner. Yup, the same kit that was available in the '80s. The 3-inch kit didn't require any driveshaft modifications, but some 3/8-inch diamond-plate was fashioned into a skidplate for the front of the truck for when the 35-inch Centurion muds on 15x10 589 Eagles slam into the terra firma too hard.
On the inside, the cheesy plastic door panels were eighty-sixed and replaced with custom aluminum numbers, while the stock seat was reupholstered in gray tweed by Sunshine Upholstery in Buellton. For peace of mind a bitchin' cage was bent up and given a Lazer Red coat to match everything else metal. A full complement of Auto Meter gauges was hooked up, including the 5-inch monster tach right at eye level on the dash. The crme de la crme is a stereo that can bring down seagulls. The Pioneer CD player is augmented by Kenwood tweeters, twin Infinity 6 1/2 inchers, and two Hollywood 10-inch woofers fed by an 800-watt Hollywood amp.
Sure, Brett could have lifted his pickup to the moon and slapped silly-sized tires under it, but every now and then we need to congratulate those with a little self-control.