Two blue-blooded Ford trucks, one wild, one mild, with two serious Chev motors
What’s rarer than a Ford F100 truck? No, not a ginger kid who has luck with the ladies. The correct answer is: two Ford F100 trucks. And what’s even rarer than two F100 trucks? The correct answer is a Ford F100 with a Chevy engine. And what’s rarer than that? Yup, you guessed it, two F100 trucks with Chevy motors. And that’s exactly what we have here in the form of Mike and Lynn Ballerini’s and Brett Abraham’s superb classics. Both are similar trucks yet are also completely different. Apart from sharing Chevy powerplants, of course. As a side note, Mike and Brett had never met before this story ” oh, what matchmakers we are here at NZV8.
Brett is an old-school kind of guy. Not one for fancy add-ons like blowers and fluffy dice, he wanted to make his F100 look as stock as possible, yet drive like a brand new Ford ute. Or should that be Holden? Since this truck houses a brand-spanking Chevy 350 crate motor. Mike, on the other hand, has a penchant for the extreme. Not only does his truck crank out more than enough power to pull the moon out of the earth’s orbit, but it looks the part too. It may sparkle more than a sparkly thing wearing sparkly earrings on a sparkly day, but it packs a whopping punch to the guts with its 484ci Chevy big block. It even has a spa pool in the back… well, not really, but sort of. All will be revealed should you feel brave enough to keep reading.
In The Blue Corner
Mike’s truck is an altogether different beast. This truly is a case of chalk meets cheese.
From the obvious addition of the custom running boards to the curved back fenders to the roof chop, this truck reeks of modifications. Most notable, next to the shimmering deep metallic paint, is the interior. Finished extremely bravely (hope Mike doesn’t let anyone eat chocolate ice-cream in here) in white leather, it shouts porn. But tasty porn with hot models, angled shots and camera filters ” not just the amateur variety.
In addition to the comfy bits there’s some serious in-car entertainment. The Clarion head deck runs four speakers in the cabin, but the main attraction is the spa pool. Well, pop-up speakers in the truck’s deck pinched from a fancy hot tub setup. Mike also intends to add a large LCD or plasma to the tray, again complete with James Bond-style camouflage.
Another notable exterior addition, or subtraction in this case, is the roof chop. Wanting a sleeker look, Mike slashed the lid by a decent 160mm. To add to the streamlined aesthetics there’s the one-piece tilt front and absence of chrome bumpers.
Wild Was The Order
The engine in Mike’s pick-up is a little gruntier than Brett’s. Make that a lot gruntier. That’s thanks to some extra capacity (484ci) and lots of really important go-fast bits: two 450cfm Holley carbs, a Carter high-performance fuel pump, a custom four-inch crossover exhaust system and a Mallory ignition system. What with all that, the truck delivers a whopping amount of both torque and power. Although the setup hasn’t been dyno tested, to my ears it sounds like a few thousand horses. Ever seen a really scary zombie movie? When Mike cranks up the engine for the first time you’ll find yourself jumping into the arms of your better half, just like they do in the movies.
Of course, Mike’s truck wouldn’t go anywhere without wheels or a driveline. At all four corners you’ll find some stunning reflective feet carved from solid billet thanks to the crowd at Eagles in Canada. The rims are shod with 255/55R17 rubber all around. To get the grunt to said wheels there is a totally custom driveline consisting of a Turbo 400 transmission and nine-inch Ford diff. To hold everything in place below the sexy body is a¦ um¦ Holden HQ chassis. Probably due again to the fact that Holden stuff is just plain better.
The Perfect Pair
All in all, these trucks are two of the most spectacular head turners in town. Brett’s truck just stinks of history and a man’s love of classics, while Mike’s baby will keep power-hungry petrol-heads and hot-rodders drooling for the next six or seven years. More, if you’re anything like me [here’s hoping not, one of you is more than enough — Ed] but that’s a whole different issue, and I’m getting surgery soon. When asked if they liked each others’ trucks, Brett and Mike’s answers were strikingly similar. They came in along the lines of (and allow me to paraphrase): “I can appreciate the work and it’s a beautiful piece of machinery but just not my thing.” Likewise, I appreciate the work that has gone into these two similar yet completely different trucks. They are both as sexy as hell, well built and turn more heads than expected.
At the end of the day, chalk and cheese, red versus blue, they are both winners, stunning examples of automotive Americana. Well done guys.
Oh, and Brett would like to add that his red beast is for sale. So track him down and kick the tyres. Just not too hard or your toes might bleed. Mike, on the other hand, would sooner sell his soul than part with his truck.
Brett Abraham – Owner Profile
Previously owned cars: 1930 Model A coupe, 1946 Ford Business coupe, 1946 Mercury sedan
Dream car: Pre-war Ford V8 roadster
Build time: Eight months
Ownership: 12 months
1956 Ford F100 – Specifcations
Engine: 350ci (5735cc) Chev, mild cam, 650cfm Edelbrock carb, Mallory ignition, Hooker headers
Driveline: Turbo 350 auto, 10-bolt Camaro diff
Suspension: Bilstein shocks, coils, Malibu front clip
Brakes: Disc front, drum rear
Wheels and tyres: Stock rims with 1940s hubcaps
EXTERIOR: Holden Clubsport Sting Red by Peter Ford
Interior: Black leather Cadillac electric seats, stock gauges etc, vintage air-con
BRETT Thanks: Peter Ford (panel and paint), Neil Yardley (mechanical), Derek Barnes (parts)
Michael and Lyn Ballerini – Owner Profile
Age: Old farts
Previously owned cars: 1948 Ford pick-up
Dream car: Bedford custom van
Ownership: Eight years
1955 Ford F100 pickup – Specifications
Engine: Chev 484ci (7931cc) big block, roller rockers, stainless valves and pushrods, rectangle big port matching, big port tunnel ram, two 450cfm Holley carburettors, custom air cleaners, K&N filter, Carter fuel pump, Mallory ignition, custom four-inch crossover exhaust system
Driveline: Turbo 400 auto, 2500 stall converter, nine-inch Ford diff
Suspension: Custom leaf springs and shocks, tramp rods
Brakes: Ford Falcon discs front and rear
Wheels and tyres: Eagle custom mags, 255/55/R17 front and rear
Exterior: 160mm roof chop, back tray dropped, tilt front with electric rams, pop-up speakers in rear deck, blue with purple pearl on a silver base
Interior: White leather, B&M shifter pro stick, VDO gauges, Ford emblem stamped into white leather dash, Clarion head unit, four-speaker system
mike & Lyn Thanks: Corey Ballerini for his help, Paul Roper for the engine, Ken Galvin for his help, Maryanne Roper for the paintwork, Justin at Cut Loose Automotive Trimmers, Wayne at Western Auto Electrical
Words: Karl Burnett Photos: Adam Croy
In The Red Corner
Let’s start off with Brett’s little red number. Brett says he has wanted an F100 since he was a kid. Luckily, he met a bloke named Roger Hancox who’d just happened to import one from the land of lard, the US of A. Although reasonably sound, this hunk of Stateside metal muscle needed some serious TLC.
“I come from a vintage background,” Brett explains. “I wanted to keep it dead stock. Old school-style wheels, all steel was important to me.”
Brett’s truck is a stunning example of what the original designers dreamed up. There are no fins, blowers, wheels bigger than practical or speakers that would implode your head on the lowest volume. There is no roll-cage, no bucket seats or other such nonsense in this ” for all intents and purposes ” stock standard vehicle. Oh, but wait. It’s neither stock nor standard. In fact, apart from the shell and rear half of the chassis, about the only stock components are the wheels. And they look fantastic adorned with the 1940s caps. The engine bay, on the other hand, has been hit hard by the aftermarket stick.
The 350 Chevy is an interesting choice for a truck that was born in the opposition’s factory, and when queried about the oddity and people’s disgust toward the supposed mismatch, Brett calmly states, “I give them an angry look back. There’s nothing wrong with it”. Apparently there is more of a reason to chuck a Chevrolet donk into a Ford than pissing off the stalwart V8 Supercar groupies. It comes down to plain old cash. “The reason a lot of people use Chev gear is because it’s cheaper than Ford gear,” Brett says. This may have some truth to it, but we all know Chevy just makes stuff that plain works better (yes, okay, I’m a Holden fan-boy. Save your abuse, you know I’m right and even if I’m not, I’m the one who has the power of the pen!).
Additionally, to get the truck sitting at the right height, it was easier to change to a Chev Malibu front chassis, rather than mess with the Ford item. With the Chev chassis came Chev engine mounts, and the rest is history.
Looks Are Deceiving
After whacking it with various hammers and injecting a bit of botox, Brett’s truck was ready for a new lick of paint. On went a shiny coat of Sting Red, all thanks to a bloke aptly named Peter Ford, who did this wondrous work without the use of a extractor fans or bake ovens. It seems you just don’t need them if you know what you’re doing, and going by the magpie-attracting sheen on Brett’s truck, Pete does indeed know what he’s doing.
Brett’s truck also shines under the hood. It may not have the pure oomph of Mike’s blue thunder, but the 350 Chev is more than enough to annoy the law. To go with the small block there’s a mild cam, plus an Edelbrock 650cfm carburettor and Hooker headers.
Jump inside the cabin of Brett’s baby and you’ll be met with more of the same ” new looking old. The interior has been scrubbed up to original standard, with fresh cow hide and a secret weapon: electronically controlled seats from an old Cadillac ” a brilliant touch. The interior is simply sweet. It looks stock, feels stock, is more comfortable than my worn-out old couches and has that new car smell.
Travelling further into the depths of Brett’s F100, we come to the drive-line. Transferring the power from the front to the feet is a Turbo 350 automatic transmission mated to a 10-bolt Camaro diff. The total package is a great mix of go with minimal show. It’s a look that Brett loves and it’s not hard to see why.
This article is from NZV8 issue 45. Click here to check it out.