One of the single biggest investments you can make in the car hobby is in the finish.

A great finish takes hundreds of hours because you start with panel repair and end with paint—both processes take time and talent.

The question is do you build it for show or go?

Chris Hall knew the answer to that question the day he bought this ’49 Ford pickup. The previous owner was on his way to jail for some serious driving-related offenses so he put it up for sale. Chris was the first guy on the scene with 4000 dollars to cover the guy’s fines so the deal was cut even though he wanted 6000 for the old truck.  He wasn’t in a good bargaining position.

Chris had a simple goal—build a great, affordable daily driver. He didn’t want a trailer queen so the cosmetics didn’t matter but he wanted something reliable that drove better than a stock ’49 Ford.

The answer came in the form of a 1977 Ford F-100 pickup with a 302 V-8. Chris said the frame “fit perfectly” so with the help of a mechanic buddy, they had the truck sitting on the new chassis within hours. He went with brand new disc brakes so this old truck stops like no stock ’49 Ford ever did 70 years ago.

Chris stripped the truck down from its original green to bare metal because it was “all rusted to hell” but he didn’t repair any of the affected areas. Instead he rolled on thick layers of black paint over every inch of the truck to slow down the process. This was an old farm truck so it was full of dents and deep scratches after decades of hard work and you can see every battle scar under the black paint.

The paint is almost indestructible because Chris has pounded his truck down many roads in three years—not all of them paved but there isn’t even a minor chip in the finish. The flames were a suggestion from a friend because she thought the all-black finish on the truck was “kind of boring”.       

This ’49 Ford truck is definitely mix and match because the seat came from a touring bus and it fit perfectly plus it came with built-in seat belts. Chris is a carpenter so the truck bed was easy plus he built a truck box for the stuff he carries in the truck for shows. The headlights were found at a swap meet so he got them with a deep discount.

Chris relocated the gas tank to the rear of the truck so now the gas filler is near the back while the original filler is a dummy setup.

The ’77 Ford chassis swap paid huge dividends because the truck is great to drive and it gets about 23 miles per gallon. Chris is a big fan of the Twin I-beam suspension because it’s made road trips a very comfortable experience.

Chris had a simple goal—to build something that was affordable and fun and thanks to another guy’s bad driving habits, his dream came true.

Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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