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Article updated: 12/31/2012 12:21 PM

'55 Ford pickup sets a leisurely pace


Often life, and the open road, are best absorbed rolling down the slow lane. That's why Jeff Grubba bypassed the traditional Detroit muscle car when it came time to acquire a second classic vehicle for his personal collection.

With a muscle-bound cruiser already parked in his garage to satisfied his need for V-8 speed, the Arlington Heights resident turned to the gentler side of motoring, reconnecting with past childhood memories.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I've liked trucks. Over the years, I've had models, toys and even Christmas decorations of trucks but never the real thing," he said.

With his mind made up, Grubba began his crusade for a proper cargo mover in 2010. Two years slipped by before he located a 1955 Ford F100. He found and purchased the half-ton in Utah.

"The condition of the truck was as you see it today -- pretty much unrestored and rust-free."

Prior to its stint in the Beehive State, the F100 spent time rolling over roads in Arizona. As to be expected, the dry, desert heat was a major factor in preserving the pickup. In addition to the fine condition, there was another attractive feature that drew Grubba to the truck.

"I settled on this particular one because of the factory Mountain Green paint. It's just a fantastic, eye-catching color that really stands out," he said.

Some light patina gives the pickup a broken-in look, packing plenty of character. The F100 was shipped east to Illinois and Grubba took delivery on April 1.

"The front fenders and hood have been resprayed, probably from fading in the sun, but more than half of the paint is still original."

Grubba also found the shocks and tires had been replaced and dual exhaust had been mounted. Cracking open the rounded hood reveals a factory-bestowed Ford Power King V-8 engine mounted between the fenders. Output was rated at 130 horsepower, sufficient for mild hauling or errand runs.

Gears are selected with a three-speed manual transmission, equipped with a highway friendly overdrive.

"It's really a pleasure to hop in and just go down the road," Grubba said. He is the vehicle's third owner and yet a quick scan of the odometer shows a mild 45,000 miles.

This blue-oval half-ton was manufactured with the upgraded Custom Cab trim designation, bringing many "upscale" features.

"It was considered top of the line for 1955," Grubba said. "The package would come with an interior dome light, heater and in-dash AM radio. It has a round faceplate and is the only round radio I've seen in any car."

Total production for all F100s in 1955 was 124,842. The curvy body style lasted for one more year before it was replaced with a more squared design in 1957.

So far the reliable 110-inch wheelbase truck has required very little maintenance from Grubba, except in one area. All those years in the desert sun dried out the wood slats in the bed, so Grubba is busily sanding each one down before applying a glossy new coat of polyurethane.

You won't find tire-smoking qualities with this humble workhorse, yet Grubba is quite content with the change of pace.

"When you're behind the wheel, you get a good-time feeling of being back in the year when it was made. That sensation just can't be duplicated with any newer truck."

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