1956 Ford trucks were Hall of Fame rides for car guys from the first day somebody figured out you could stuff a giant engine under the hood.
Most of the infatuation was reserved for the half-ton pickups but lately there’s been surge in interest and it’s directed at the larger versions of these classic Ford trucks.
David McCafferty took the bigger truck and bigger engine concept to a higher level with his 1956 Ford F 350.
David’s inspiration for the project is pretty basic, “As far back as I can remember, I’ve had this thing about big, classic, macho trucks. And being a Blue Oval guy … it had to be a Ford!”
David began his project like every other guy in the hobby-with a search, “ So during the Spring of 1999, I saw this Internet advertisement for a Ford truck. Not just any old Ford truck, this one was a 1956 F350 9-Foot Express. here were 6,226 F350s made that year with the 9-foot bed which made it an “Express”.
Pay dirt was a phone call away, “ I called the number and someone answered “Liquor Square … may I help you?” I was connected with the lady that owned the liquor company and the truck. She still had it and said she would hold it till I could get there”.
That answer set off a road trip, “I flew from Austin, TX to Boston, MA, then drove to Syracuse, NY.”.
This big Ford had a great owner history, “Turns out that her father owned the largest liquor distributorship in New York state and bought the truck new in 1956 to haul beer and liquor all over the state. When he died, he left the company and truck to his son, and when the son died, he left them to his sister who was selling both”.
The price reflected the era,“Never mind that the MSRP in 1956 was $1,782 … I bought the truck for $2,800. I came back a couple of weeks later with my trailer and hauled my prize back to Austin”.
Projects often unfold in nasty ways, “Although the body was all there, it was beat up pretty bad … only the top half of the cab could be salvaged. I stripped it down to the frame rails and drive train and drove it around the neighborhood a few months using a five gallon bucket to sit on … that was cool!”
David clearly had a bigger game plan, “By now I was committed to making it much more macho than before. So back on the internet, I found a guy in Moriarty, NM who had a Cummins 5.9 ISB Diesel. He swore it didn’t have more than 2,500 miles on it so off I went to fetch it. Years later when it came time start it for the first time I had to solicit help from the Cummins guys since the secondary computer had been scrapped. They rewired the onboard ECM, hit the starter, and it instantly sprang to life!”
There’s always more to the story,“ The Cummins tech looked at his diagnostic equipment … looked at me … and asked “where did you get this engine?” “Does it matter” I replied. “No … but would you like to know more about it?” “Sure.” He went on to explain that it had been driven 2 hours, 13 minutes and had 124 miles on it. He even gave me the VIN Number of the vehicle it came out of (can we say “chop shop”). I started to worry and asked if he was going to turn me in. Thomas said “No, but Cummins gives us 100 hp fuel pump upgrades that normally cost $500 … I can let you have it for free.” “Stick it in!!!” Here’s the engine when I picked it up in NM”.
Employment can get in the way of a great project, “About this time my job required a lot of moves and everywhere we went Big Red rode the trailer. It was Texas to Florida back to Texas then back to Florida … we wore out Interstate 10. I drove it with a string through the firewall to work the throttle”.
Another big milestone was reached, “From Florida it was off to Seattle, WA. That’s where Big Red got his first registration and became RED! Back on the trailer … we’re off to San Diego, CA. Big Red entered one car show while there in a “Work In Progress” Class … and WON!!!”
This Ford has a long list of non-factory options, “Cummins 5.9 ISB Diesel Navistar 5600 – 6 speed transmission, 10.5 inch Ford 4.31 rear end, Ford F550 front suspension, Ford E350 front spindles, Disc brakes on all corners, 16” Wheels,36 gallon fuel cell, Ford Explorer rack and pinion steering, Fairlane fiberglass tilt front end Stainless steel bumpers,folding ball gooseneck hitch, Category 3 bumper pull hitch,wood side rails and bed floor “ironwood”, Power windows,cruise control, CB, air horns”.
The biggest hurdle was cleared, “Now it’s off to Las Vegas, NV. However Big Red pulled the trailer this time instead of riding on it! Finishing touches are being added … check out the bed and monogram!”
David summed up why this ‘56 Ford is a big factor in his life, “Big Red is quickly becoming a daily driver and we enjoy every mile on the road. All we lack now is upholstery and AC … much needed in Las Vegas!!!”
” A couple of weeks ago my wife and I did three laps with Big Red as part of a charity event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. High banked turns at 75 mph in a 1956 truck … what a ride!!!