Few things are more sacred to a guy than his truck. One exception, though, is the actual badge his truck wears. Brand loyalty isn’t a new concept, and neither is family tradition. Todd Williams knows this firsthand because his father and grandfather were true blue Ford enthusiasts. The term “enthusiast” doesn’t even begin to describe their passion for anything bearing FoMoCo stamping, as Todd is quick to point out. “These men that I grew up admiring drove nothing but Ford trucks their entire lives. I am the third generation of a very loyal Ford family.”

Before our story goes any further, Todd revealed something about himself, “I actually started my teenage years as a diehard Chevy guy.” Let’s just let that sink in for a second. What remains unknown is how Todd’s dad and gramps felt about this initial splintering of the family’s longstanding Ford lineage. Todd, who knew this juicy morsel of information would likely raise questions, wanted to elaborate, “when I was a junior in high school, I loved the Chevy brand so much that I walked into the closest Chevy dealership … and told them that I would take any job they would give me. Even after I started attending school at Arizona State—the inspiration behind the colors of my F-100—I did the same thing. I walked into the nearest dealership and took whatever gig was up for grabs.” Todd’s stint with the Chevy shop wasn’t just a temporary phase. He stayed with the second dealership for 15 years while he worked his way through the ranks of the sales and finance departments.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Throughout his years as a self-proclaimed Bow Tie boy, Todd had some pretty amazing cars that he built to drive hard. “My first car was an 8-year-old 1978 Camaro Z/28. Turning wrenches on this car taught me a lot about how an automobile really works and how to make them go faster. My dad and I spent many years drag racing together. I drove, he financed, and we both wrenched. Our first real race car was a ’68 Chevelle that ran low 12s. We sold that one and stepped it up to a ’57 big-window Chevy stepside that ended up in Street Trucks back in ’06 following a photo shoot at Goodguys Del Mar.” Each one of these three Chevy vehicles is a dream ride in its own right and are more than acceptable substitutions for anything sporting a Ford badge. “I have always been a truck guy,” Todd adds. “My dad was in the trucking business, so being around them since I was old enough to walk must have had something to do with that.” This was the transition period that would eventually bring Todd back home to his family’s preferred maker of automobiles, and all it really took was some seat time behind the wheel of a Chevy pickup to propel the move.

“I began to really appreciate traditional hot rods and happened to take notice of the work of Jason Graham in Portland, Tennessee. I had picked up a ’30 Ford sedan at the time, and after having the opportunity to collaborate with Jason on the project, what we ended up doing was converting it over to a five-window pickup.” The gears were changing as far as the type of eclectic ideas Todd was starting to dabble in at this point. The push on performance took a back seat to restyling, but it would soon be introduced to the driver saddle in a way not even Todd would have been able to predict. “I was happy with Jason’s work, so I asked if he would want to build something outside the norm for a second go-around. I decided on doing an early ’60s uni-body, and spent the next year combing the Internet to find one. I finally tracked one down on eBay, and my max bid of $3,500 was good enough to lock it down. I had arranged shipping here to Phoenix from Northern California, and when it finally arrived, we were pleasantly surprised after getting an up-close look at it.”

The truck’s original owner had passed away, but it had remained with the gentleman’s family ever since. The maintenance report on it had some gaps, so naturally it would need a full tune-up to get it back on the road again. “The great thing about this truck was the fact that it had never been damaged. In fact, [the body] turned out to be [in the best condition] anybody could ever ask for after it was cleaned up a bit. The truck was completely stock, including the straight six under the hood.” It wasn’t too much longer after the truck had first arrived in Arizona, when Todd reached out to Nate Porter at Porterbuilt Fabrication about coming up with a solution to bring the truck closer to the pavement. “Nate had informed me that he was still in the design process on the front and rear kits for early uni-body trucks. I waited patiently, and he called as the first kits were rolling off the production line. Nate was kind enough to extend an invitation for the truck to be dropped off at his shop so he could take care of the installation himself. Nate not only installed the brand-new PorterBuilt Fab Dropmember kits, but he modified the existing frame to work better with the components he designed especially for this truck style.

Nate Porter made pretty quick work with the F-100 suspension. He has, in fact, turned custom chassis fabrication into a science. The next order of business was getting the truck into Jason Graham’s hands once again, which wasn’t simply a matter of driving across town. The two had to schedule a time for Jason to come to Arizona and then haul it right back home to his shop space, which he was happy to do. While with Jason, the old Ford underwent a transformation that some would not have believed possible. Jason’s a body and paint guy but he’s also handy with engine tuning so he and his crew were able to shape the F-100 to the specs of an honest-to-goodness impeccable street rod. Not only does it look the part, but the Ford Racing 5.0L Coyote engine does its part to make Todd feel like he’s back on the strip. It was the most perfect power part swap that could’ve been selected for this build.

From the time Todd purchased the truck, until it made its debut at Detroit AutoRama in 2016, a total of three years had passed. It may have been a bit longer than he would’ve liked to wait, but considering the final product, it’s a wonder it all came together like it did in only 36 months. “I stayed in contact with the family that originally owned the truck so I could share the grand unveiling,” Todd says. “The owner’s wife responded to my email to tell me she thought it turned out great, although it really wasn’t her style. Well, it’s exactly my style, and it’s a good feeling to be able to share the rebirth with them.”

From the first talks Todd had with Jason, he knew what the end result would be like, but he hadn’t prepared himself for everything to come out much better than he expected. “I knew that the right guys and gals were involved with the build from the beginning, so there was no question that the truck was going to end up being killer … The only detail that Jason and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on was cutting the roof. I didn’t want it to look like it was chopped, but he went ahead with his plan, and in the end he was right—it came out perfect.” Todd expanded his interest in custom vehicles outside of his family’s Ford-focused comfort zone. But if it weren’t for his early love of Chevy cars and trucks, he might not have had the drive to stray from the pack and dump all of his resources into creating a simply fantastic F-100 that can stand toe to toe against a build of any badge or pedigree.

Truck Specs

Owner:

Todd Williams

1961 Ford F-100

Phoenix, AZ

ENGINE:

  • Shop: Jason Graham Hot Rods
  • Ford Racing 5.0L Coyote engine
  • 435 hp
  • Gearstar 4R70W auto transmission
  • Ford Racing headers modified by Jason Graham Hot Rods
  • Custom exhaust and air intake by Jason Graham Hot Rods
  • Magnaflow muffler
  • Jet Hot coating
  • March Performance serpentine belt
  • Narrowed Ford 9-inch rearend
  • Rick’s Tanks aluminum fuel cell

CHASSIS & SUSPENSION:

  • Shop: Porterbuilt Fabrication (Nate Porter)
  • Z’d frame front and rear, boxed with all holes filled
  • Porterbuilt Dropmember Level 3 front system
  • CPP 2.5-inch drop spindles
  • Porterbuilt Fabrication tubular control arms
  • Porterbuilt Dropmember Level 3 rear system with adjustable 4-link
  • Air Lift Dominator 2,600 ’bags
  • KYB Excel-G shocks
  • Accuair e-Level system
  • CPP big brake kit with vented rotors
  • Wilwood master cylinders

WHEELS & TIRES: 

  • 22×9 and 22×10 Schott Modsport wheels in bronze ceramic paint/polished finish with 6-inch and 4-inch backspace
  • 255/35R22 and 285/35R22 Yokohama Parada tires

BODY & PAINT:

  • Shop: Jason Graham Hot Rods
  • PPG Mahogany Pearl
  • 2-inch chop top
  • Shaved drip rails, gas filler, keyholes
  • Custom-fabricated tailgate
  • Stock grille, turn signals removed
  • Stock front bumper, license plate recess filled and smoothed
  • Rear bumper smoothed
  • Stock door handles
  • Steel bed floor with stainless strips
  • Fuel filler relocated to bed
  • Power one-piece windows

INTERIOR & STEREO:

  • Shop: John Miller
  • Late-model seats upholstered in Relicate custom leather
  • Budnik steering wheel
  • Leather headliner
  • Con2R gauges
  • Stock handles
  • Custom console by John Miller
  • Hurricane AC by Old Air Products
  • Rockford Fosgate head unit
  • Kenwood Excelon speakers, subs and amps
  • Boom Mat sound deadener
  • Optima battery

Special Thanks from Owner: “Thank you to Jason and Tasha Graham of Jason Graham Hot Rods, Nate Porter of Porterbuilt Fabrication, my parents for getting me pointed in the right direction, and especially my wife, Cheryl, for never saying a word about all the money spent on this dream ride.”