After More Than a Decade, She Returned Home
SOMETIMES GOOD STUFF slips through your fingers. If you’re lucky, sometimes it comes back quickly. Chad Seals from Rutledge, Tennessee, bought his 1977 Ford F-100 in 1999 and drove it all through high school. Even though he loved it, when the former owner came down with a bad case of seller’s remorse, Chad took pity and agreed to sell it back. It was almost nine years later before Chad saw the truck again.
“I was surprised when a friend of mine showed up driving my old truck and excited to show off his new ride,” Chad says. “I tried to buy it right there on the spot, with no success.”
Amazingly, the truck changed hands three more times, but Chad followed it to every new owner until he finally got his favorite high school ride back in the fall of 2008.
While the F-100 was still in decent shape, Chad had a list of personal touches that he’d been dreaming about over the years. As a lineman for the power company by day, he wasn’t comfortable enough doing the work himself but was fortunate to have an uncle who could. Larry Ogan owned Ogan’s Body Shop in Box Springs, Georgia, and happily took on the challenge of creating Chad’s ultimate dream ride. As the two collaborated, each upgrade pushed the envelope a bit with lots of personal touches added to the frame, engine and body.
Since a ground-hugging chassis is a prerequisite for entry into the winner’s circle, Chad and Larry opted for lowered twin I-beams to bring the front end down, following up with a C-notch, reversed shackles and lowering springs in the rear. While they were there, all the components underneath were powdercoated in wrinkle black. Everyone agrees that wheels are always a big part of the truck’s first impression, so modern American Racing Torq Thrust II rims got the truck rolling in style with 18x8s up front and 20x10s in the rear. Disc brakes up front and drums in the rear applied modern clamping force.
Exciting performance always adds another level of awesome when rejuvenating an old truck and it was time to replace the tired 400ci motor under the hood. Chad chose a modified 347 stroker motor built by Performance Unlimited in Melbourne, Florida. Pumping out a healthy 450 horsepower, the V-8 benefits from a 750 Holley carb on an Edelbrock Endurashine intake with RPM aluminum heads, custom cam and Hooker long tube headers. It’s mated to an AOD transmission that turns 3.73 gears in a 9-inch rear. Lots of time was spent detailing the engine with paint, chrome and polished aluminum. The combination of a lower center of gravity, modern rubber and significantly improved power made the truck a dream to drive—but the transformation wasn’t quite done yet.
Body modifications are the best way to personalize a truck and the team began with a subtle upgrade requested by Chad’s wife Nikki. She suggested relocating the gas filler neck to behind the driver’s side taillight. It was a departure from the standard practice of locating the cap in the bed and it took some thinking to get it just right.
“But once Larry pulled it off, all heck broke loose,” Chad says. Uncle Larry, with newfound enthusiasm, shaved the door handles, drip rails and side marker lights. Blue Oval proud, the F-100 was treated to a pair of Ford logos, one on the tailgate and a second version on the cab wall. Black bed liner sprayed in the bed is as functional as it is good looking.
Moving inside, the modernized interior features a Teas Design bench seat covered in smooth black leather and accented with Ford logos, stitched by a family friend. A Pioneer head unit controls the pair of Boss amplifiers behind the seat; a mono amp for the sub and a four-channel amp for the Boss component sets behind the seat and hidden under the dash. The custom dash also reflects Uncle Larry’s talents beginning with the original plastic bezel around the Dolphin White face gauges now duplicated in steel, faired in and painted to match. The glove box was welded shut to keep the dash clean, making it the perfect spot for incorporating the vents from the Southern Air A/C unit. A chrome Ididit column holds a Grant banjo-style steering wheel. A little farther down the road, future plans call for upgrading the interior with a subtle shade of buckskin leather.
Although there were several areas yet to be completed, the truck was scheduled to debut at the May, F-100 Supernationals. Unfortunately, it was the same time that Chad’s wife Nikki was diagnosed with a rare lung disease called LAM, affecting only about 3,500 women in the world. Family always comes first and work on the truck was put on hold— but Nikki, being the trooper she is, said the show must go on.
“This truck,” she says, “is going to be at that show in May!”
During March and April, Chad spent every weekend running back and forth to his Uncle’s shop six hours away in Georgia to help get the truck completed. Once everything was painted and partially assembled, the truck was transported back to Rutledge two weeks before the show with no interior, no glass, no exhaust, no grille, not buffed or road tested. With the unhesitating help of family, friends and the local muffler shop, each missing element of the truck was addressed, with the job completed on Wednesday and the truck debuting at the show that Friday.
Everyone, especially Nikki, was thrilled with how it turned out. Uncle Larry got to see it unveiled and enjoyed answering the questions everyone had about the details of his work. With Nikki’s condition, they haven’t shown the truck as much as they’d like, but both agree the best part of the year-long construction process was being reunited with their old F-100 as well as the wonderful collaboration with Uncle Larry. When we asked Chad what his initial goal was when he built the truck, his reply was quick.
“I wanted to see it featured in a magazine,” he says.
In fact, uncle Larry shared the same dream and let us be the first to say congrats to a wonderful family and a really fun build to follow.
NIKKI AND CHAD SEALS
1977 Ford F-100
- Ford small block 302 V-8 stroked to 347ci
- 750 Holley, Edelbrock Endurashine aluminum intake
- Edelbrock RPM aluminum heads
- MSD electronic ignition
- Hooker long tube ceramic coated headers, stainless 3-inch exhaust
- Magnaflow stainless mufflers
- March Performance pulleys
- Champion four-core aluminum radiator
- Engine work by Proformance Unlimited in Melbourne, Florida
- The Ford AOD automatic trans is equipped with a 2800 stall converter with work done by Valley Hot Rods in Blaine, Tennessee
- Dropped twin I-beams
- C-notched frame with leaf springs
- Ridetech Monotube shocks
- Ford 9-inch with 3.73 gears
- Disc and drum brakes
- Powdercoated suspension components
- Modifications by Ogan’s Body Shop, Box Springs, Georgia
- American Racing Torq Thrust II 18x8s front and 20x10s rear
- Hankook V12 EVO rubber 235/35/18 front and 275/40/20 rear
- Lowered 5 inches in front and 7 inches in the rear
- Shaved door handles, drip rails, side marker lights
- Smoothed cab corners and rear of cab under the back window
- Boxed inside the bed
- Ford emblem in the front of the bed
- -Smooth tailgate with an embossed Ford logo
- -Gas filler cap behind driver’s side taillight
- -DuPont Inferno Orange Metallic with paint and body work by Larry Ogan of Ogan’s Body Shop
- Teas Design bench seat in black leather
- Custom dash and deleted glove box with Ford script on dash
- Factory gauge bezel duplicated in steel
- Dolphin gauges
- Southern Air A/C
- Grant banjo wheel, Ididit column
- Black loop pile carpet
- Dennis Carpenter seat belts
- Upholstery by Hot Rod Mama in Rutledge, Tennessee
Special Thanks from Owner: “Chad owes a debt of gratitude to Uncle Larry for creating his dream ride, along with friends and family who went out of their way to make it possible. A special thanks goes to his wife Nikki for her love and unwavering support.”