From Ruins To Restoration: What To Look For When Purchasing An F-100

It is easy to get awestruck by a new project vehicle. The thought of engine swaps and performance suspension overrides our cognitive ability to process exactly what we got ourselves into. Once the F-100 is back in the garage, we begin to take inventory on what will need to be replaced. However, digitally thumbing through an online forum and Facebook marketplace begins to look bleak, as options of new old stock and reproduction units have all but disappeared. This is when it pays to know what to look out for and where to get these products you might need.

Unless you’re purchasing a classic vehicle as it rolls across a red carpeted arena, the chances of it being in mint condition shape are slim. This is especially true for old trucks that were driven hard during their working years and left to rot in retirement. Purchasing a truck in this condition will most likely mean decaying rubber, animal-created hazards, and worst of all, cancerous rust on the chassis. To better understand what to look for, we reached out to our resident F-100 guru, Ivan Korda, who just finished up his 1969 F-100 known as Project F-Word on FordMuscle.com.

Photo Credit : Garrett Reed

Ford Muscle (FM): Tell us about where you found Project F-Word and what you immediately saw needing to be replaced.

Ivan Korda (IK): I actually picked up Project F-Word from Alabama. One of the common areas to look at on this truck is the cab corners, so I immediately noticed the rear cab corners needing some attention, since they had rot. The bed floor of the truck was completely gone. Only the three or four supports that hold the bed floor could be seen. Aside from the non-existent bed floor, there was a little patch work that needed to be done by the pedals, this is where a lot of moisture tends to pool. The doors were not in bad shape, but had some pin holes in the bottom. Overall I lucked out on what it could have been.

Sitting in a field in Alabama, Ivan's 1969 Ford F-100 was waiting for someone to come scoop it up.

FM: Was there any undisclosed damage or problems you discovered when you got it back in the garage?

IK: Not on this truck. It was not buried in mud, so it was easy to see what was rotten and what was in good shape. We actually got lucky and found some better than average news, as all four cab mounts were still in great shape.

FM: You ended up going with a different engine than the original, but what did the wiring look like when you first opened the hood?

IK: The wiring was absolutely not usable. This was a surprise for me because it was one of my first classic vehicles, so I had totally forgotten about the old wiring, glass fuses, and combination of home made wiring remedies, such as wire nuts. The old wiring was super brittle and had lost all pliability. I made the switch to a Painless Performance harness and it cleaned up a lot of the mess.

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The stark contrast between old OE wiring and the modern Painless wiring.

FM: I imagine after sitting outside for so long the windows were hazy and oxidized from the metal trim.

IK: So, we did the front windshield and then we replaced the rear window trim, we replaced the side window regulator and the channel seal (that the window slips into), but we managed to reuse the old windows. Honestly they were not in the best condition and looking back I should have replaced all the glass.

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A clear vision through the new front window from Classic Industries replaces years of oxidation the previous windshield had.

FM: Was the trim dried out and breaking down?

IK: The window trim was pretty much done when I got it. It would whistle while I was driving and didn’t create much of a seal. It was obvious those needed to be replaced with new units.

FM: The Patina look is hot with these trucks right now, but if someone wanted to create a showpiece, what body panels typically need to be inspected for rust?

IK: Typically you need to replace the inner fenders on both sides. Sometimes you get lucky and the driver’s side fender is in good shape. However, since the battery resides on the passenger side it is usually a replacement only item. Then I would check cab corners, bottoms of the doors, and the floorboards for any more rust.

FM: Were there any small pieces that you enjoyed adding to the truck to give it a little extra flare?

IK: When I bought the truck the badges were already missing. The entire theme of the truck was new underneath, but patina and character on the outside. When you start to look closely you see old body panels, but with new badges. Or even the old body panels, but with new wheels and big brakes. The combination of old and new is how I tastefully integrated the two spectrums.

FM: This was something you also incorporated into the lighting system as well, correct?

IK: Correct, the thing we did with Classic Industries on the F-100 was updating the lighting on the truck. Going back to the old and new integration, we used a factory style headlight housing, but it uses an H4 bulb that we found an LED version of. It combined the old look, but with new performance. We managed to integrate LED lighting in the turn signal, taillights, and headlights all sourced from them.

FM: I imagine the steering box in an older F-100 is probably worn out and contains a lot of slop. What was Project F-Word’s steering like?

IK: These trucks are just getting up to that age where the column might be okay, but most have been beat up and abused. The bearings wear down and the steering wheel will have slop. A lot of people upgrade to a modern front end suspension, like a Crown Vic or QA1 with a rack and pinion, however, that column will still feel loose and transmit through the steering wheel. One thing to note when replacing the steering column, is to consider going with the Chevrolet steering wheel pattern as they have the most styles available.

FM: Is there anything else buyers should know about before buying a classic F-100?

IK: Because these vehicles are so old, you’re basically looking out for rust. Bottom of the doors, door seams (where the door closes under the hinges, front and rear areas), floor boards, bed floor, and then the inner fender. Outside of that these trucks were pretty solid, unless you find some rust bucket that looks like it found in the bottom of the lake.

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The F-100 Conclusion

If you’re on the hunt to build your classic truck, then the first stop after you get home should be the Classic Industries website.  While time has not been kind to these trucks mechanically, it has done wonders for its beauty. Now that these trucks are starting to see the limelight of its restoration era, we’re getting the enjoyment of these builds popping up across the nation.  So, get out there and start your search to own the truck you remembered from long ago or make your grandfather proud, by making his old work truck a strong running classic.

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About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
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