There are two distinct approaches to creating a cool custom truck. While a professional shop has to turn its imagination into revenue, the individual builder has fewer constraints. Creativity is the key to both approaches, and as long as a recognizable central theme emerges, the finished truck becomes a personalized work of art.
The Lindsey family from Smithville, Missouri, knows all about automotive art thanks to having a head start when it comes to enjoying their hobby. The family business, Lindsey’s Auto Salvage, has been operating since the mid-’60s and gives them a virtually unlimited supply of items to spark their imagination. They can pick and choose from thousands of parts and pieces, adapting each to their latest automotive creation.
The father-and-sons team of Gerald, Jim, and Ed Lindsey has been enjoying automotive creativity for decades. Gerald (dad) is the owner of this 1970 F-100 shortbed while sons Jim and Ed fill the role of fabricators and builders. When Gerald decided to build a new family pickup, the original plan was to do something simple. As you can see, that approach was short-lived.
Old Truck, Modern Underpinnings
The ’70 F-100 they purchased from an auction house in Oklahoma City had been written off as a total loss. Fortunately, much of the truck was still solid and what wasn’t was scheduled to be replaced anyway. Once they got it home and broke out the measuring tape, they realized they had an opportunity to upgrade the old farm truck with modern underpinnings. Familiarity with previous builds led Gerald to the 2002 Ford Lightning waiting on the back lot for just such an occasion. It was a dynamite combination that had worked before and one that would breathe new life into the old ride, especially since Ford had already enhanced the Lightning chassis at the factory to increase rigidity.
When Gerald decided to build a new family pickup, the original plan was to do something simple. As you can see, that approach was short-lived.
From the outset, the frame would provide modern handling, disc brakes, and accommodate the latest aftermarket upgrades. The ’02 would also donate its powertrain, a modular SOHC 2-valve 5.4 Triton V-8, producing a stout 360 horsepower thanks to its factory installed Eaton supercharger. Plenty quick in stock form, the only changes to the engine were an aluminum radiator, Billet Specialties engine pulleys, and a set of throaty Flowmasters designed to announce the truck’s arrival. Behind the engine, a 4R100 automatic transmission was connected to a 3.55 rear. They made the chassis a roller with a set of 20-inch Budniks up front and 22s in the rear, slanting the truck in just the right direction.
Once the chassis and powertrain were in place, the elaborate series of body mods began, with a Shelby-styled truck as the goal. Life-long Ford fans, the Lindseys planned on updating their vintage ride with multiple Blue Oval components. One of the first styling goals meant moving into new territory with Jim making a change that most folks would overlook. He joined the bed to the cab, creating a unibody. Happy with the sleek look, he continued the makeover with a new rear window from a 2014 F-150. The subtle upgrades only become apparent when compared side to side with an original.
Although the all-Ford philosophy predominated, there were occasional departures when Blue Oval parts gave way to a few other brands. The bumpers are a prime example. Up front, what looks like a slim Camaro bumper is actually the rear bumper from an older Chrysler, cut and tucked tightly to the body with the bottom portion sprayed to match the truck. It is a unique touch that is virtually unidentifiable. Continuing the mix and match, Jim and Ed felt the truck needed a touch of ’70s muscle, so the next trip through the yard uncovered late-model Camaro quarter panel sections that they incorporated into the bedsides. Camaro grille sections followed added above and below the new bumper. The Mustang-style hood features a shaker scoop along with insets that incorporate turn signals angled toward to the driver. Side exhaust tips adapted from a Mercedes AMG were cut in just behind the front wheels. They are the exit points when it’s time for the electric exhaust cutouts to open and entertain bystanders with the Lightning’s roar!
The same high level of imaginative repurposing occurred in the rear, this time using an actual ’69 Camaro rear bumper, split to complement the front and trimmed to create a precise opening for the license plate. The plate itself was rolled to follow the new rear pan. Another complex styling exercise is obvious in the tailgate with the upper portion from a late-model Dodge welded to the top. Honeycomb material originally found between Mustang taillights now accents the center and six CNC-cut aluminum taillights pay homage to the Mustang’s sequential rear. Cobra elements are obvious with the super-size snake coiled in the bed. Those imaginative inner fender panels were accented with a Mustang side vent and the gas filler was cut into the driver side bed wall.
The interior was something that both Gerald and the boys did together with metalwork the first step. A highly modified Ford Starliner dash imitates the traditional dual humps found in Mustangs. The slim Dakota Digital analog gauge package stretches across the driver’s side, keeping track of under hood activity while a separate A/C vent panel runs along the bottom. The powered seats came from a ’07 Ford Fusion, reupholstered in black leather with red inserts and embossed cobras by Liberty Upholstery. Another element with Mustang heritage, the center console accommodates the floor shift and A/C controls.
The almost five-year build wrapped up with Jim spraying PPG Thunder Gray and CC Custom Grafics adding the black graphics that roll under the windshield to the interior, through the engine compartment, and wrap around the doors. Special thanks to Butch Stumph and Keith Carrel for their help in making the truck complete.
While this ride might be done, when you are a true enthusiast, there is always another waiting in the wings, especially since there are so many pockets of creativity remaining untouched in the yard! We photographed the Lindsay’s blown unibody at the F-100 Supernationals where it captured the Street Trucks Editor’s Choice award.
1970 F-100 shortbed
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
- SOHC 2-valve 5.4 Triton V-8, producing 360 horsepower
- 4R100 4-speed automatic
CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
- Complete 2002 Ford Lightning
WHEELS & TIRES
- 20- and 22-inch Budnik rims
- NITTO 275-35R20/ 285/35R22 Rubber
EXTERIOR & PAINT
- Unibody, new rear window from a 2014 F-150
- Modified Chrysler front bumper and Camaro grilles
- Custom hood with directionals and shaker scoop
- Ford Starliner door handles
- Side exhaust tips from a Mercedes AMG
- ’69 Camaro split rear bumpers
- Rolled rear pan and matching license plate
- Dodge tailgate portion welded to the Ford
- Six CNC-cut sequential taillights
- Cobra bed floor and textured bed walls
- Accented inner fender panels
- PPG Thunder Gray and Jet Black graphics
- Sprayed by Jim Lindsey
- Ford Starliner dash
- Mustang steering column and wood grain wheel
- Dakota Digital analog gauge package
- A/C vent panel
- ’07 Ford Fusion seats, reupholstered in black leather with red inserts
- Mustang center console