A Canadian’s Fridge Built in the Heat of Texas
Rob Koolen has always wanted to build a killer vintage Ford truck. Residing in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, he found it difficult to find the truck to match his taste. Making a few trips to the States, Rob found exactly what he was looking for in Texas: a 1959 Ford F-250. The truck had just the right patina for Rob’s taste, but it wasn’t rotted in the wrong places, and the panels were straight considering the truck’s age and history.
Once Rob had the truck in his possession, he began formulating a plan. Rob contacted many shops but had a hard time nailing one down. With a little more searching, Rob found Farm Truck Racing (FTR) in Azle, Texas, to tackle the build. FTR is owned and operated by Dennis Winegarner. Dennis has built an extensive resume with patina builds, Coyote swaps, Crown Vic swaps, and a multitude of other builds that are out on the road racking up miles.
Starting with a solid foundation, Rob had a No Limit Engineering chassis ordered and delivered to FTR. The powdercoated chassis had all the goodies, including the No Limit independent suspension with tubular upper and lower control arms, adjustable coilover shocks, and power rack-and-pinion steering. Out back, the NL chassis includes the infamous Fat Bar four bar rear suspension with adjustable coilovers as well. Connected to the Fat Bar is a Ford 9-inch housing containing 31 spline axles and a third member with EATON TRU Track with 3.73 gears. Brakes are none other than Wildwood with 6 pistons up front and 4 piston calipers out back clamping on to the drilled 13-inch rotors.
Once the chassis was ironed out, it was time to get the powerplant and transmission in place. Due to FTR’s extensive history with Coyote swaps, the choice was easy. FTR ordered up a Ford Racing crate Coyote as well as the Ford Racing control pack and wiring. Backing up the engine is a Tremec T56 Magnum with a McLeod clutch. Connecting the transmission to the 9-inch rear end is a Shaft Masters driveshaft. Moving the exhaust gasses from the front to the back are Sanderson block hugger headers connected to a custom 2.5-inch stainless exhaust system with Magnaflow stainless mufflers.
Rolling stock for the truck, and a perfect match for the look Rob was seeking, is the ever-popular Detroit Steel Wheel D-Town Smoothies. The wheels were tastefully matched to the patina on the truck and baby moon caps hide the lug nuts. The front wheels come in at 20×8 and the rears are 20×11 with Continental Extreme Contact tires wrapping them up. Tire sizes are 275/35/20 and 315/35/20 front to rear respectively.
A Few Surprises
With the foundation set, it was time to start fitting the cab, bed, and front end onto the chassis. This is where it gets very interesting. While Rob wanted the perfect patina truck, he did not want any aftermarket sheetmetal or faux patina.
That said, the cab floor, bed floor, and wheel tubs in the bed were going to be a challenge. The cab and bed floor had considerable rot. Not only that, but the wheelwells in the bed were beat up, and they needed to be raised to clear the raised suspension and larger tires. FTR had to find a donor cab that matched the truck. Scouring the forums and social media platforms, FTR was able to find two additional cabs and three additional beds to accomplish the task.
After cutting out the old floor and firewall, FTR masterfully installed the floor and firewall out of the donor cab into the original with no painting or aftermarket sheetmetal. Moving to the bed, FTR was able to take the bedsides with wheelwells intact from one of the donor beds and make new (double sided) inner bed panels as well as raising the inner tubs without compromising the look Rob was going for. The bed floor was also procured from a donor truck and raised to clear the new NL chassis. Finally, FTR also narrowed and tucked the front bumper for a cleaner look on the ’59.
Simple with Patina
After the outer sheetmetal was complete, it was time to move to the interior. Keeping “simple with patina” in mind, FTR installed a leather seat from Slim Guys Designs. Dakota Digital gauges fill the holes in the original gauge bezel so Rob can easily monitor all the trucks vitals. When in the pilot’s seat, Rob’s left hand occupies a Lacara Mark IV steering wheel connected to a Ididit tilt steering column, while his right hand rests on the Silver Sport Transmissions shifter handle.
Rob and Dennis decided to use NOS rubber flooring in lieu of the typical carpet covering for the floor. They felt this maintained the “work truck” vibe the F-250 originally had. For Rob’s listening pleasure, FTR had the original radio fitted with modern electronics by R and R Vintage Radio. The ear massage comes from Focal speakers hidden in just the right places.
Since its completion, The Frog, as Rob has named it, has attended a few local North Texas shows including the Texoma F-100 Roundup where it won best of show. While Mr. Koolen is still arranging delivery of The Frog, he is looking forward to hundreds of miles of fridge time in the cool Ontario summers.