Crown Vic swapped F-100 from Gateway Performance

When discussing the Ford F-100, most conversations lead to the mid-’50s body that has been done successfully time and time again. However, opinions have been trending toward the trucks that came decades later: the Bumpside and Dentside bodies. These popular forms span two generations for Ford, and we find ourselves with the latter for this story. Ford’s sixth generation F-series was introduced in 1973. This generation continues on the foundation brought into production by its preceding two generations but with some refinements along the way. However, most of these improvements were made to the cabin of the truck. Meanwhile, chassis and drivetrain features stayed stale through decades of production, and perhaps that’s why Nick Alfano’s Ranger XLT draws us in.

For some of Nick’s older friends and family, it is no surprise to see him cruising around in an old Dentside F-100. In fact, he’s always had a soft spot for these trucks and mentions it may come from his younger days of plowing snow for his uncle’s landscaping business. At the age of 16, Nick had a pretty stout truck to drive. It was a 1978 F-150 outfitted with a plow and flatbed. Nick is a self-proclaimed truck guy, but due to his day job as a product developer for Classic Design Concepts in Milford, Michigan, he finds himself building muscle cars instead. Well, all that changed in the fall of 2017 when he picked up his long-overdue truck project from a friend in Alabama.


As soon as he got the truck back to his home shop in Highland, Michigan, he started the restoration process, which he claims was going to be a quick, budget friendly build with mostly rebuilt parts and a few upgrades. That plan didn’t last long after deciding to take the build over with friends from Pypes Performance Exhaust. Before Nick knew it, he had signed on to build the truck for the SEMA show in less than a year.

Knowing the goal, Nick spared no time tearing into the truck and started the chassis build with a whole new front suspension. Eliminating the primitive twin I-beam suspension and gear box in favor of a lightweight IFS and rack-and-pinion from a donor car, the frontend of the chassis was treated to a Crown Vic swap. Most of these donor front assemblies are being found on the ’03-’11 Ford full-size sedan. Because these cars share a similar frame width, they are a highly popular swap for the F-100s. Along with those upgrades, you also get a coilover shock, sway bar, disc brakes, and a built-in 4- to 5-inch drop. Nick sourced a frontend install kit from Three Pedals, LLC to make this swap much easier. Planning for bigger power, he also decided to conclude the frontend upgrades with a large set of Baer Pro Plus 14-inch rotors with 6-piston calipers.

Moving to the rear suspension, a well-matched upgrade was made to this F-100. The stock leaves and rear housing were dumped in favor of the new Gateway Performance Suspension F-100 3-link kit, which consists of a 9-inch Ford housing, axle shafts, JRI coilover shocks, and, of course, the adjustable suspension bars. The lateral movement and roll steer are controlled by the included Watt’s link. Again, Nick upgraded the stopping power up to another set of Bear Pro Plus 14-inch brakes. This type of suspension provides this F-100 the ability to take on any high horsepower task given.

As soon as the chassis was finalized, Nick’s attention went directly to the body of this old Ford. The first thing he did was send the sheetmetal off to get chemically stripped then e-coated to protect it while they addressed the rust issues. While Nick claims that the cab was actually in decent shape with good floorpans and cab corners, the cowl needed quite a bit of attention. Luckily, he was able to use a lot of the original parts, including both front fenders and the entire bed. The only other big issue with the sheetmetal came with the bed floor. After an exhausting effort, Nick finally found a replacement floor through National Parts Depot, along with a replacement hood and a few other small pieces. Nick wanted to use as many factory original parts as possible to guarantee he had a good fit.


Moving swiftly along to the bodywork and paint, Nick decided to go with a traditional look and keep the factory Ford body lines, bumpers, grille, and trim. The entire truck body was coated with a Medium Blue Poly from PPG, while pieces like the body trim, tailgate panel, and grille were all coated in a custom blend to contrast the blue while not overpowering the chrome. Other pieces on the body, such as the Ford lettering and a custom “Dentside” badge on the grille, were color matched to the truck’s wheels and brakes. To update and brighten up the exterior one more step, Nick opted to upgrade all exterior lighting to LEDs from J.W. Speaker in Germantown, Wisconsin.

With the chassis and body both coated and amassed, it was time to move into final assembly and install the drivetrain between the frame rails. The power on this F-100 naturally comes from within the Ford family—a Fox-body this time. Using a 5.0-liter V-8 from a Mustang guarantees performance and reliability on this kind of build. Nick sourced out John Vermeersch’s Total Performance in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, with the task of building the reliable heart for this project. With Ford Performance internals and a full roller assembly, they decided to make the engine a little more efficient by adding fuel injection atop the Edelbrock air gap intake. A FAST XFI throttle body is trusted with this task and blends a prodigious combination of air and fuel to feed this beast efficiently. This combination expels the exhaust notes by none other than Pypes Performance Exhaust using its electric cut-outs and Street Pro mufflers to soothe the sounds on the fly. To mount the engine, Nick used some mounts from Outcast Autoworks, and then attached a built C4 transmission behind it to take the power from the V-8 to the John’s Industries 9-inch housing and axles. Coupled with a Grip Pro limited-slip differential from Powertrax, this truck should be an aggressive yet steadfast cruiser on the backroads of Michigan.

With the infamous SEMA deadline approaching, Nick found himself with only eight days left to assemble the truck. Luckily he had the guys over at TMI Products in Corona, California, to produce the interior. TMI’s F-100 product line was fairly new, however the company did have quite a few pieces ready to go into production. Things like the headliner, dash pad, door panels, and split bench seat were readily available and made Nick’s job much easier when it came to updating his F-100 with a tasteful and modern combination. The TMI products are wrapped in beautiful brown leather and tan microsuede materials to complement the Medium Blue Poly of the metal cabin. To update the truck’s dash, Nick decided to build a custom panel for the New Vintage USA gauges and further enhance its appearance by adding a retro radio by Retro Sounds—both helping to keep an updated stock appearance. To make the trips to work a little more pleasant, Nick decided to outfit the truck with a full Kicker Audio sound system, including amplifier, subs, and component speakers. Finishing out the interior are amenities such as the Ididit tilt column, Billet Specialties Formula steering wheel, and of course a Vintage Air HVAC system to control those varying temperatures throughout the year.


With all the hard work done, the last thing to check off the to do list was bolt on the exotic-looking Billet Specialties Toploader wheels. Coated in Arizona Copper, a color given to them by Baer Brakes and the exact same hue used on the 6-piston calipers, is what really sets off the appearance of this F-100. Casing the 20×9 and 20×10 rollers are a set of Pilot Sport by Michelin; staggering them in a 255/40-20 and 285/35-20 respectively makes for an aggressive stance.

With only days left to finish out his project, Nick enlisted any and all friends who could turn a wrench to meet the deadline and show up in the Pypes Performace Exhaust booth for the SEMA show. However, we all know that no SEMA project is complete without an “overcoming the odds” story, and Nick’s is no exception. With the clock ticking away, Nick found himself in a situation where he would need help to repaint portions of the truck due to the carelessness of the bed and cab not being properly fastened down and resulting in paint damage during transport. Fortunately, he had made a friend in Lonny from Gateway Classic Mustang and Gateway Performance Suspension, the same guys who built the rear suspension of the F-100. There, Gateway’s paint team was able to get the truck back to perfect condition and keep Nick’s deadline.


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