The Tallants Are Limitless
Nothing really brings people together quite the same way that building cars and trucks does. For so many people around the globe, a love of customs has become an escape from the real world and an opportunity to turn friends into family.
This custom love hit Karl Bittner around the time of his 16th birthday. Ever since, he’s tinkered, built, and customized a long list of cars and trucks. Along the way, Karl began working for Dan and Susan Tallant of Tallant’s Rod Shop in North Kansas City, Missouri. During a BBQ at the home of this 1966 Ford F-100’s previous owner, Karl and Dan admired the truck together. Dan broke then news on the spot that he and Susan would be buying the Ford for Karl as a thank you to the years of dedication. Karl and Courtney, his wife, were over the moon with excitement and gratitude. They could hardly wait to get building. In fact, the couple were so eager they began the teardown process while Courtney was nine months pregnant with their son. After a day of hard work prepping the cab, Courtney was on her way to the hospital to deliver the newest addition to the Bittner clan, Bryce Bittner.
Dan’s Dodge Sweptline was a significant influence on Karl’s Ford, providing a vision for the style and vibe. When it came to stance, Karl knew exactly what he was looking for. The deep cuts that were required posed a point of no return. Karl disassembled the front clip and fired up the angle grinder. The ’66’s front was amputated just in front of the firewall. The blank slate was rebuilt to allow for maximum lows. Karl utilized a JW Rod Garage Mustang II front clip as his foundation. From there he made a few more cuts and customizations. The Mustang-II style IFS now floats on a pair of RideTech airbags. Karl’s own handiwork ensured he knew exactly how the suspension would perform. With the all-new geometry, Karl took the opportunity to swap in a rack-and-pinion steering setup from a 1988 Chevy van. The back half of the chassis has similarly been rebuilt. Again, Karl turned to JW Rod Garage for his platform. He started with their 4-link kit, notching the frame and building custom mounts. The rear setup also balances on RideTech airbags, aided by Monroe shocks.
Karl’s primary task when he embarked on his build was to deliver some style and performance that the factory F-100 platform seriously lacked. With the chassis rebuild/customization complete, the F-100 now showed off the stance he’d envisioned. To round out the look of the classic hotrod inspiration, Karl opted for a set of 16-inch Ridler wheels. The old-school five-spoke design look perfectly at home underneath the patinaed body, especially when paired with a heavy sidewall set of Toyo tires. The chrome finish matches the OEM body accessories and overall look of the truck perfectly. Factory disc brakes fill the wheels out beautifully and provide a bit of extra squeeze thanks to a Wilwood master cylinder under the hood.
A few other goodies lie under the hood as well. The Mustang-II front clip required new motor mounts to be fabricated. Karl took advantage of the task to fit a modern Chevy small block. Say what you will about Fords and Chevys swapping DNA, but it’s hard to argue with a readily available V-8 that brings OEM support, double the output, and 20+ MPG’s to the table. Karl cherry-picked a Chevy 4.8L for his ’66. The smaller displacement late-model SBC still boasts all the potential and reliability of its LS counter-parts. The 4.8 is hooked to the tried and true 4L60E trans for worry-free cruising. The Silverado engine is perfectly at home in the large bay of the F-100 and is kept cool with a custom aluminum radiator and electric fan combo. The V-8 breathes through a custom exhaust ending in twin Flowmaster 40-Series mufflers.
From an exterior aesthetic, much of what Karl imaged already existed. The face of the F-100 came pretty from the factory. He wanted to enhance and highlight the natural beauty of his classic truck. This meant partial preservation of the original patina. The white base color had aged attractively, boasting appealing wear in all the right places. To add the needed layer of custom style, Karl and Dan opted for a heavy red flake on the upper cab and roof. The Tallant’s Rod Shop logo now adorns the truck doors. Finally, Eve Cambell applied subtle red, black, and ivory pinstriping along the body lines. Additionally, the exterior is upgraded with tucked and re-polished bumpers and H4 LED headlights and all-new smoked cabin glass.
The interior is a genius stroke in color theory. Dan treated the smoked glass like a permanent filter. He extended the red accents into the cabin but turned down the saturation. Custom burgundy flex-form carpet now stretches over the floor pan. The OEM bench seat has also been upholstered in burgundy vinyl. The dash has been smoothed and simplified, painted to match the carpet and seat. It’s outfitted with a Kenwood system and Dakota Digital VHX gauges. The updated interior feels as cool as it looks thanks to a fresh Vintage Air AC kit. A set of vintage Mooneyes knobs and steering wheel provide the perfect final touches.
The endless and painstaking work in customs is enough for anyone to form a bond with their build. But when the layer of human connection is added, something truly special takes place. The process is what took place when Dan and Susan demonstrated their thankfulness for Karl and Courtney. Some people see an old, uncomfortable truck. Others see a waste of time and money. But for the those of us who get it, we see a symbol. A beautiful handmade symbol of hard work, of passion, and of love between friends and family. A symbol that can be cruised down the Kansas City highways with the people that matter the most. And a symbol that can be passed down to Bryce and the rest of the Bittner family for decades to come.
Karl & Courtney Bittner
1966 Ford F-100
North Kansas City, Missouri
- Customized JW Rod Garage Mustang II IFS
- Custom JW Rod Garage 4-link
- Ridetech airbags
- Monroe shocks
- Chevy Van Rack & Pinion steering
- 1999 Silverado 4.8L SBC
- 4L60E automatic transmission
- Custom aluminum radiator and electric fan
- Custom exhaust with twin Flowmaster 40-series mufflers
- Ridler Chrome 16-inch five-spokes
- Toyo tires
- OEM disc brakes
- Wilwood manual master cylinder
- Original off-white patina
- Red metallic flake upper cab and roof
- Custom red, black, and ivory pinstripes
- Tucked front and rear bumpers
- H4 LED headlights
- Replaced and smoked glass
- Reupholstered bench seat—burgundy vinyl
- Custom burgundy carpet
- Smoother dash painted burgundy
- Vintage Air A/C kit
- Kenwood head unit
- Dakota Digital VHX gauges
- Vintage Mooneyes knobs and steering wheel