Batman had the Batmobile. The Duke boys had the General Lee. The A-Team had that amazing GMC Vendura van. And Mark Bell has Betsy, a spotless 1962 F-100 Unibody that he’s owned since before he was old enough to drive.
“This pickup is the very first vehicle I ever purchased,” Mark says, telling the tale of Betsy’s origins. “I was 13 years old, and I spent the summer working for a local farmer changing water for him.”
Out behind the barn, the farmer had an old pickup hidden in the weeds. When he saw the trampled trail to the truck through the grass, he knew Mark had developed a crush.
“The second to the last day before going back to school, he noticed that I had beaten a path all the way to and around this old pickup,” Mark says. “He asked me if I liked the truck, and I said, ‘Of course I do! I will be getting my driver’s license in a few months, and this would be awesome.’”
Well, to Mark’s surprise, the farmer made a deal with him.
“He told me, ‘Since you did a great job for me, if you bring me $1 tomorrow, I will bring you the title,’” Mark recalls.
That was an agreement Mark just couldn’t pass up.
Working for a Living
Mark Bell and his wife, Diane, live in Idaho. They own a powdercoating and LineX bedliner franchise, so they know a thing or two about trucks. That’s a very good thing, because this old farm truck did a lot of working before she retired into the beauty before you.
“I’ve kept her all these years,” Mark says of his metallic sidekick. “She made it through high school, marriage, family vacations, camping, hunting, hauling firewood, hauling trash and just life in general for an old farm truck.”
One fateful 11 years ago, Diane drove Betsy to drop a load of garbage at the dump.
“While returning from the trash dump, Betsy backfired and caught on fire, pretty much gutting the engine compartment before the fire was put out,” Mark says, adding that Diane was safe. “I towed Betsy home and parked her alongside my shop where she sat for two years. Then I moved her inside a shed so she would be out of the weather.”
Another two years would pass before Mark felt ready to bring Betsy back to life.
“One day I went in the shed and there she was,” he says. “I said to my wife, ‘Today is the day of the new Betsy.’”
The New Betsy
Betsy has been in Mark’s life since 1983. For some historic perspective, 38 years ago, “Mama’s Family” and “The A-Team” were topping the TV charts. Not that either one influenced his update choices, of course.
“I had always wanted to restore or at least make her roadworthy again, and so the journey down that road began,” Mark says.
Mark started with the chassis. He worked with Porterbuilt Fabrication and Kenny’s Rod Shop on a customized 2017 frame, which includes a Porterbuilt front crossmember, fully boxed frame, and custom rear with built-in air tanks for Airlift air-ride front and back. It rides on Intro five-spoke wheels, 19 inches front and 20 inches rear, wrapped in Toyo Tires rubber. For stopping power, Wilwood Brakes, front and back, were chosen along with an electric e-brake.
Unparalleled Performance in Nampa, Idaho, did all of Betsy’s engine work. Drew and his crew chose a 2013 GM V-8 LS3 6.2L motor and added Gen IV GM stock connecting rods, GM hypereutectic pistons and GM stock shocks rings at a 10.7:1 compression ratio. They used a BTR LS3 Stage 2 camshaft, Borla intake manifold and fuel injection, and Hooker BlackHart headers. The exhaust system—a 3-inch exhaust from the rear—comes from Borla and Kenny’s Rod Shop. Other engine mods include a Holley Dominator ECU, Billet Specialties hardware and a serpentine drive system, along with a polish and paint to make her pretty.
“It took a lot of parts for this engine swap,” Mark says. “Custom frame mounts, custom firewall, custom floor pans, custom inner fenders and radiator mount …”
And the custom stuff continues when we look at the transmission.
Created by RPM Transmissions out of Anderson, Indiana, Betsy’s transmission is a 2013 GM 4L60E. It features RPM Level IV upgrades to the output shaft and inner unit. The Hughes torque converter has a stall speed of 3,000 RPMs. Internal trans mods include an RPM-built 300M billet output shaft.
Dollin’ Her Up
With Betsy’s frame, engine and drivetrain dialed in, it was time to make Betsy as polished as she was powerful. And so, Mark enlisted the help of Shawn McNally of Regenerated Rides from Nampa, Idaho, for a little fabrication surgery.
“The grille and bumpers are stock,” Mark says. “But we updated the wheelwells with custom tubs and crossovers, stretched the cab 3 inches, shortened the bed by 6 inches, and added shaved custom drip rails, a custom tailgate, bed strips, flush-mount glass front and rear, and welded body seams.”
They also chose a custom Burnt Orange paint from PPG. But the lines on those wheelwells are downright sexy, right? Well, Betsy gets even more gorgeous inside the cab.
Ron Mangus of Yucaipa, California, worked his magic on the interior. He added Glide seats ensconced in luscious black and brown leather. All his design’s stitching matches the smooth body lines on the truck; in fact, the headliner matches the hood’s imprint!
“Betsy has Classic Instruments gauges to match the factory look, a Billet Specialties steering wheel and a Kicker stereo,” Mark says. “She also has A/C custom control knobs, chrome strips that match ones in the bed, and fuses and wiring that are all hidden behind a custom panel in the back.”
Ready for Her Closeup
It’s been seven long years of work (and a six-figure monetary investment), but Mark is finally done transforming Betsy from a field find to a farm truck to a showstopping stunner.
“My truck is amazing,” he says. “I love it.”
He has taken her to several events, including the Boise Roadster Show, Spokane Speed & Custom show, and several Goodguys events. In 2022, keep an eye out for Betsy at shows across the country.
“After several setbacks, changes and modifications Betsy is now complete,” he says. “So here she is in all her glory, never to haul firewood again. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.”
We do, Mark. Oh, yes, we do.
Mark and Diane Bell
1962 Ford F-100 Unibody
Under the Hood a 537hp LS-3 Motor with Borla 8-stack fuel injection
Metal work and build by KRS Custom
Body all seams welded together and smoothed
Cab stretched 3 inches
Drip rail removed but body line left
Bed shortened 6 inches
Tailgate made to go out not in
Bed modified to accept air-ride
Inside fenders made to match factory body lines on the exterior
Flush mount glass, windshield and rear window
Door glass and fixed wing windows
All glass smoked for tint
Chrome strips fabricated and added to bed along with fuel fill cap
Custom one-off hood hinges
Transmission GMC 4L60 with an electronic dash mounted push button shifter
Full air-ride suspension
4-link rear with new modified rear differential
Intro wheels, 20 inches rear and 18 inches front
Tires: Toyo Scorpio
Front Porterbuilt with custom built rear with center being stock
Frame boxed and all wring, lines, etc., run hidden inside frame rail
Willwood disc brakes with electric E-brake
PAINT AND POWDERCOATING
Powdercoated frame and all components by MVP Coatings
Painted and seam sealed body underside
Paint is a custom Burnt Orange by PPE
Painted by Regenerated Rides
Custom interior by Ron Mangus
All leather wrapped dash, door panels, seat, floor, with strips to match bed
Headliner matches the hood inverted
Electric windows and door latches
Classic Industries gauges to match factory look
Stereo and speakers hidden
Several other changes that are little to make the fit and finish smooth and seamless