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Rusty Comes to Life at Sherman’s Garage

There are quite a few factors that set apart F-100 builds in general. The model is finally gaining mainstream traction in the classic and custom communities but has for years been the unsung hero of the truck class.

Uniqueness is a hard thing to come by, especially in this day and age. Traditionally the word was used to describe a true one of a kind. It’s often now used as an alternative for “different” or “special.” But when something is genuinely unique, it deserves a second look. There are quite a few factors that set apart F-100 builds in general. The model is finally gaining mainstream traction in the classic and custom communities but has for years been the unsung hero of the truck class. The fourth-generation, in particular, has really spiked in popularity as a customs platform. The unibody version of 1961-62 is of course even more rare. But in a sea of similar styles, uniqueness requires some out-of-the-box approaches. Thinking outside the box is exactly how Brian Sherman approached his 1961 F-100 Unibody build. He decided to team up with Drew Brothers Customs of Chandler, Arizona, to make it happen.

Underneath the unique Uni is an uncommon chassis swap. Most people would not associate the Buick Roadmaster of the 1990s with Ford hot rodding. But when you weigh the pros and cons, it quickly becomes a slam dunk. The Roadmaster reached its final form in 1991 after a 30-plus year layoff. The final body style was built upon General Motor’s B-body. The B-body chassis supplied the bones to dozens of models across the GM lineup for decades. A few notable standouts are the 1966-96 Caprice Police Interceptor and the 1994-96 Impala SS. The Roadmaster underpinning RU5TY is its very last iteration of ’96.

The ’96 Roadmaster brought a huge increase in factory performance. The B-body garners a ton of aftermarket support and OEM reliability, all of which are plus factors to the RU5TY equation. The original F-100 Unibodies utilized a 115-inch wheelbase in their short-bed form. The late-generation B-bodies measured just 0.9 inch longer in the wheelbase. This minimal discrepancy allowed for fine tuning the frame fit. The team fabricated custom body mounts to complete the swap and the suspension has been refreshed with a set of KYB shocks in the front and rear and Eibach lowering springs at each corner. The lower height of the sedan, combined with the high-performance springs, make for a far more aggressive stance beneath this F-100. The modification is striking and truly makes for a unique hot-rod inspired look.

Further pushing the new bad-ass visual, RU5TY is sitting on a set of American Racing Salt Flat Specials. The vintage-style features a perimeter bellowing, ovate and rounded-over cutouts, and star-pattern fluting. The faces are finished in metallic satin gray. The two-piece construction used a J-style polished lip. Brian opted for a bit of hot-rod rake and stagger using 18-inch wheels in the front and 20s out back. The wheels are matched with Goodyear Eagle F1 tires measuring 235/40/18 and 285/35/20. The wheel design is an obvious throwback that boasts multiple modern cues. The contrast fits this mashup build perfectly.

The ’96 is equipped with Chevy’s LT1 350 small-block V-8. The 5.7L engine is the direct predecessor to the LS series. It offers fuel-efficiency, reliability, and a treasure-trove of torque potential. When first introduced to the Roadmaster, the Corvette-derived V-8 brought an 80hp increase. It’s paired up with the 4L60E automatic transmission for smooth cruising. For the time being, Brian’s truck retains is stock motor and supporting components. For a few extra horses and driver enjoyments, Drew Brothers fabricated a custom 3-inch stainless exhaust. The system ends in twin Flowmaster mufflers, turned down in front of the axle.

The exterior of RU5TY is its obvious namesake. As Brian perfectly puts it, his build is sponsored by “Mother Nature.” The super rad patina was originally “Torch Red,” or R70540 according to the Ford Factory. The natural weathering has left plenty of primer in plain sight. The painted bumper aged to a different shade entirely bringing a special point of visual interest. But as the title suggests, the surface rust and peeking bare metal seams stands out. The brown lowlights adorn the rear fenders and several seams along the unibody. The driver’s side of the hood sports several rust patterns that look suspiciously like bullet wounds. Brian and the Drew Brothers decided to enhance the all-natural paint job with some period correct door graphics. Rob Drew hand painted the “Sherman’s Garage” logo for Brian Sherman, including his home town of Phoenix.

While the exterior is almost completely preserved, the interior has been comfortably updated. The Roadmaster frame swap included the use of the sedan’s firewall and all the attached components. Not only did this come with ice-cold A/C and cruise control, but this meant a fair bit of additional leg room and driver comfort. The Drew Brothers discarded the tired Roadmaster seats. In their place is a third-row bench from a second-generation Chevy suburban. The new-old seat now sports fresh upholstery in aged saddle leather thanks to Steve Nappi of Mesa, Arizona. The aged leather is perfectly at home with RU5TY’s signature style. The original F-100 dash remains in place, refurbished with a Lecarra Mark-10 steering wheel. The two-spoke style is a hot rod classic. Finally, the cabin now features a Hifonics TPS-BT1 stereo system. The whole of the cabin interior is sprayed in a custom red mix to highlight the Torch Red patina.

Brian Sherman and the Drew Brothers took this patina project head on. They struck true uniqueness by building the truck with an out-of-the-box approach. The Roadmaster chassis swap presented a challenge and a risk. But if it paid off, it would mean power potential, comfort, styling, and a truly unique Unibody. Needless to say, it did pay off in dividends and RU5TY is a truly one-of-a-kind ’61.

TECH SPECS

Brian Sherman

1961 Ford F100 Unibody
Phoenix, Arizona

Chassis/Suspension

  • 1996 Buick Roadmaster Chassis
  • Custom Unibody body mounts
  • KYB shock
  • Eibach springs

Engine/Performance

  • Chevy LT1 5.7L V-8
  • 4L60E 4-speed automatic transmission
  • Custom 3” stainless exhaust
  • Twin Flowmaster mufflers

Wheels/Brakes

  • American Racing Salt Flat Special 2-piece, 18” & 20”
  • Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, 235/40/18 & 285/35/20
  • OEM brakes

Body/Paint

  • Original Torch Red patina
  • Custom hand-painted door graphics

Accessories/Interior

  • Reupholstered Suburban bench seat – aged saddle leather
  • Custom painted interior
  • Lecarra Mark-10 steering wheel
  • Hifonics TPS-BT1 stereo system

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