Pope’s Hot Rods Shop Tour
Hot rodding has always been more than just a hobby for Brian Pope of Pope’s Hot Rods. His older brother Keith got him into it at a very young age. Keith always had cool stuff in his teens; he was really into the big body cars like Chevelles, GTOs, all the good stuff. Brian was nine years younger than his brother, so that age gap allowed Brian to be thrown head first into the custom automotive subculture much sooner on than most.
In his teen years, Brian met a guy named Cecil Painter who had a ’56 Ford big window. It was black and sitting super low and Brian was instantly hooked! Cecil was part of the Music City F-100 Club, and Brian started hanging around those guys and started going to F-100 shows soon after. The F-100 bug was buried deep and starting to bloom.
Brian also soon after became known as the ‘crew cab whisperer,’ hunting down Ford Crew Cabs in all years and conditions.
Brian’s shop, like most, kind of just came together. It was a side hobby for years, but eventually, the state required him to get a dealer’s license because he was tilting too many trucks each year. So that forced him to really sit down and get a legit business going. At first, he bought and sold collector cars and trucks, and then eventually he opened up a full shop around 2006. When Brian first opened his doors to customer builds, he felt like he only wanted to build what he liked, which was classic Ford trucks. Everyone loves the ’56 and older trucks, but the ’57 and up trucks didn’t really get any attention, and in the mid-2000s nobody was really putting independent fronts under the ’60s trucks.
He built two trucks around that time, a 1964 F-100 in a rat rod patina style and a 1965 F-100 with gloss black paint and bright red interior, both with independent fronts sitting super low. He took it them to the F-100 Super Show to start to strum up business, and much to his surprise everyone was shocked by what he did to them. The phones started ringing.
Brian also soon after became known as the “crew cab whisperer,” hunting down Ford Crew Cabs in all years and conditions. Ford didn’t make a crew cab from factory until the mid ’70s, so all of the earlier ones are coach-built, making them very rare and much harder to find. Brian finds them from all over the United States, and either builds them up or relocates them for clients. He also tends to have these and other models on hand at his shop for sale depending on his current customer inventory.
The very first truck Brian bought was a 1956 F-100 Big Window he got from Jacky Jones Ford in Georgia. Jones has a huge Ford collection and was telling a friend of Brian’s in town about the truck, and Brian was definitely interested. He drove down to go see Jones and quickly struck a deal, buying the ’56 as a roller. It had been hot rodded in the early ’60s with a big block Caddy motor, side pipes, and all the bells and whistles.
Once Brian got his hands on it, he built a frame with independent front and RideTech shockwaves with 22-inch wheels in the back. He had all the metal work done on it, but life being what it is, “the shoemaker’s daughter goes barefoot,” and Brian got so busy with customer builds that he had to push his ’56 to the side.
These days, the shop’s customers come first—but the truck is still sitting in the back of the shop, just waiting for its 15 minutes of fame, and we’re hoping that comes soon as Brian shared some pretty lofty plans with us! Brian and the team at Pope’s Hot Rods of Smyrna, Tennessee, are doing great things for the F-100 and Ford truck culture. We can’t wait to see what’s next!