Ken Kelley’s 1956 Ford F-100 Is Fat In All The Right Places, Just Like An Effie Should Be And Now It Is For Sale

Ken Kelley’s 1956 Ford F-100 Is Fat In All The Right Places, Just Like An Effie Should Be And Now It Is For Sale

(Words and Photos by Kaleb Kelley)

Here at BangShift, we like a little bit of everything. Some oddities that normally would be frowned upon, we love. We also like some of the iconic cars and trucks from the past, like the 1956 Ford F-100. It was a one year cab with the iconic big fenders, wrap around front windshield, and optional big rear window. Vehicles that have unique design characteristics that only run for one year tend to become very popular. Another example of this would be the 1963 Corvette, 1970 Chevelle, 1969 Camaro, and the list goes on. It’s become one of the most popular body styles for the Ford pickups for a good reason, as I believe it is one of the most beautiful trucks ever produced, but I may be a little biased.

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 050





Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 053

This specific Effie is owned by my father, Ken Kelley, and the more time I spend around the truck, the more I love it. We’re a slightly Mopar-biased family, but not close mindedly stuck on products strictly from Ma Mopar. For example, my dad has owned a 1968 C10, 1972 Chevelle convertible, Mini Cooper S, 2nd gen Dodge Viper, 1972 Satellite, original 1971 Roadrunner, E46 M3, and the list goes on. Cars are in our DNA. My grandpa was even into cars as young guy. He liked to go fast and get in trouble in anything with four wheels from the stories I’ve heard. It turns out that he ended up being a captain in the Texas Highway Patrol and stopping people from going fast, but that’s not the moral of the story, what is is the fact that my dad always seems to have something interesting in the garage. He’s passed that onto me and there are few people that I know that are more car crazy than I am.

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 026

After getting into the classic car scene, he met my great uncle’s good friend John Dunn. John is a mechanic by trade who has run around with my uncle Benny for years. Over the years, he has come to love the F-series pickup trucks, specifically the 1956 models. He’s built many over the years and actually has been featured in Custom Classic Trucks magazine 3 times. When my dad met him, he had a 1956 Ford F-100 sitting in the shop that was painted PPG Torch Red without the fenders, motor, interior, bed wood, hood, or anything on it. My dad instantly fell in love with the truck. John was planning to build the truck to be his last F100, but when money got tight he decided to sell the truck to my dad and finish it for him. Since then, my dad and I located another ’56 and John bought it to build as his last one for real this time. He aims to keep it cheap instead of an all-out show truck.

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 037

First, let me tell you about the underpinnings of the truck when he purchased it. It had a custom fully boxed frame that looks absolutely killer with a 1972 Chevelle front clip to make it ride much better than the old straight axle setup that the truck originally had. In the rear, it has a posi Ford 9-inch rear end with 3.50 gears to let it cruise on the highway, but still give it some low end pull. John had built a lot of these trucks and learned through experience what he did and did not like. He decided to shave the front and side hood emblems to give it a cleaner look. He also filled the cowl vent and side louvers to enhance that clean look. All of this paint and body work was handled by brothers Tim and Joe Latham. As my uncle always says, “They come in two colors, red or black.” At shows people comment on how much they like that red paint and ask what the color code is. Many people use Torch Red for paint jobs, but this isn’t the Ford Torch Red that can sometimes look very orange, but rather GM Torch Red, which is an option on new Camaros and Corvettes. Originally, Ken had 15” Halibrand-style wheels on it to give it a classic look. After going to the GoodGuys Lone Star Nationals in the fall, he decided to order some larger diameter Billet wheels noticing that the trucks with big wheels got a lot of attention. The max diameter he planned on doing was 18”, but friends talked him into putting 20”s on the back to give it a cool rake. It’s crazy how much a set of wheels can completely change the style of a vehicle.

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 030

Ken doesn’t tend to do anything halfway and always puts his all into what he does, which has brought him success. It definitely worked out well for him with this stunning truck. Originally John was going to rebuild a used engine and transmission to put into this truck and try to make it look good, but Ken had other plans. He bought a GM Performance crate 350 Vortec to use instead of a rebuilt motor. Many critique the Chevy power plant, but it is hard to get a Ford engine to work with the Chevelle clip because of oil plan clearance. For the transmission, he decided on a built 700R4 4-speed automatic. The engine bay is unbelievably clean. It has a Holley Performance Street Avenger 670 carburetor topping it off.

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 005

Now that the mechanical side was handled, he decided to focus on the interior. John originally was going to send the truck to a local guy for all of the work, but Ken wanted to make sure the interior was as nice as the rest of the truck. After calling multiples interior shops around Texas, he took it to a local friend of ours who is one of the best interior guys we could think of, Ronnie Cathey. Ken originally was thinking either a full tan seat or a full black seat with black carpet. After talking to Cathey, he realized that whatever Ronnie said might be his best bet. Cathey has years of experience and knows what designs and colors will make an interior really pop. He did a two-tone leather seat with both tan and black. He told us that a popular style to do on ‘50’s-era trucks was to waterfall the center color over the edge of the seat. The truck also sports a nice gauge cluster from Autometer and an underdash Vintage Air Mark IV A/C unit that actually looks like it was tailor-made for this truck. 

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 006

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 007

One thing that F100 guys are picky about is their bed wood. Ken wanted his to make him stick out. He wanted a light colored wood to go along with the light ran interior, so he called Bruce Horkey to see what wood would be best. He ended up purchasing Hardrock Maple which was an awesome choice. Our good friend Jeff Enloe from Van Alstyne, TX is a carpenter who has built some seriously cool buildings in the Dallas area. He offered to finish the wood for us since we didn’t get it finished through Bruce’s company. When he first put the polish on, it was extremely shiny, but Ken wanted it to have a more dull finish. After a lot more polish and more sanding, the finish was absolutely perfect. It’s not too shiny, but not too dull.

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 046

Ken’s truck is one of the nicest of its style out there. The more that you look at the truck, the nicer you notice that it is. You know that you’ve done something right when somebody ask how you did something with your truck. I don’t know how many times we’ve answered what the bed wood was, or the color code, etc., but I think that says a lot about the truck. This fall, with the new wheels, Ken hopes to shoot for the Late Truck of the Year finalist at the Lone Star Nationals again in his awesome 1956 F-100. At the Spring Lone Star Nationals, he took home the Ford Truck Pick. They have two shows in Fort Worth a year, and they only give a Truck of the Year award for the fall show, so our chance Ken coming soon. Wish Ken good luck this fall!

Ken Kelley's 1956 F100 002

Want to own it? Email [email protected] for more details.

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13 thoughts on “Ken Kelley’s 1956 Ford F-100 Is Fat In All The Right Places, Just Like An Effie Should Be And Now It Is For Sale

  1. GuitarSlinger

    That … is one mighty effing * clean ‘ Effie ‘ hot rod !

    [ * sorry .. couldn’t help myself on that one .. 🙂 ]

    1. Patrick U

      I was thinking the same thing. There are a lot of better front end choices that work with a Ford engine. I couldn’t be more against brand swapping. As much as I’d love to take an early Corvette and throw a coyote 5.0 in it, I wouldn’t actually do it….

    2. GuitarSlinger

      Awww … come on already . With a truck this clean we can most certainly excuse the use of an ever present and over used effing Chevy in a ‘ Effie ‘ Ford this one time … can’t we ?

      I mean … it does demand a lot of restraint on our parts … but this one time ? Maybe ?

  2. Powerstroke

    Awesome truck. I long for a 56 Chevy car or truck but one of these would be grand in my driveway. Love it

  3. Meh

    Ruined by another damn run of the mill SBC. This would have been a bad ass truck if it had a built Ford FE motor.

  4. Kaleb Kelley

    There aren’t many front suspension choices better than the Chevelle front clip. It rides and drives great. The builer, who has used everything from a Polara front end, Mustang II front end, Chevelle, and so on, said that this is his favorite front clip setup. It also fits in the car and makes the wheels fit correctly. The thing about these pickups is that when you put a new front clip on, the wheels sometime do not fit correctly in the wheel wells. For example, too far in with a Camaro flip, too far back with others like Fatman, etc. You just have to be careful to keep the fitment correct. That’s another reason that the Chevelle clip rules.

  5. Leaveitford

    Wow, GM paint, front suspension, engine and tranny…why not just build a GM truck then? Don’t much like the large diameter Billet wheels on the Chevord either.

  6. doug gregory

    Kaleb, don’t be deterred. The pictures are awesome, the build is great, and the purists are offended because they’d give it a thumbs-up when it rolls in then turn their noses up after the hood is opened. What they are forgetting is that this was an in-progress project with an already boxed frame sporting the A-body front suspension. I applaud it also because its not got a plastic-covered late-model engine in it. Engine covers are for lead sleds which this is not. Tried and true isn’t always boring. The engine bay is clean and he didn’t try the faux Ford valve covers and such in an attempt to bluff the ignorant. I’m not a fan of big wheels, but the F-100s can handle a 20 in the back and not look like a cartoon toy. It sits low without being too low. Its got AC and an OD trans so it can cruise in comfort all day long. I don’t see a problem with it. If there is anything really distracting is the use of Red to garner attention. That is basically a lock to get folks to stare, but I am really into the clean, subtle changes and excellent craftsmanship using something other than Black, Red, or Yellow to garner attention. Its a minor thing and likely with this truck I’d gone with a shade of red too. Its fat and clean. Cool ride. Being able to read the intro bio and understanding you folk’s car history should have stifled any criticism. You guys are definitely not from the flavor-of-the-day lemmings or the classicly-traditional, brand-centric clan. Bravo.

  7. doug gregory

    I will add that something like a FE, SOHC, or even a big Chrysler Hemi would have put this truck over the top as a ‘must see’, but that is more expensive and none would have worked easily with their chassis. Buying a partially-done project is a plan to save time, effort, and hopefully money. Tossing out the completed A-body-suspended chassis would have thrown that out the window. The original builder had apparently built enough of these that his choice for suspension didn’t require further thought or consideration as to what purists might say. Better to have a marginal-handling, Ford-powered version….? Perhaps for a few. I’d say the majority will take it just as it sits.

    this is your higher hot-rodding brain functions signing off for now. 🙂

  8. Ken Kelley

    If anyone is interested in owning this Truck please feel free to contact me at [email protected] I have enjoyed building and owning this truck very much but I have too many projects in the shop and it has to go. It needs someone who has time to enjoy it. Thanks Ken

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