West Coast Report – Sixth Edition: Wild Card By John Gilbert

Stormin’ Norman’s ’52 F-1

Text by John Gilbert from the March 2008 edition of Custom Classic Trucks…I think it was March.

Photos by John Gilbert recently discovered turning dark on an old CDF card… Who knew there was a shelf life?

I don’t think it’s plagiarism if you authored the story in the first place. I wrote this feature about my buddy Norm Marshall’s ’52 F-1 Ford pickup back in 2008 while I was the editor of Custom Classic Trucks. The photos shown here are outtakes from a photo shoot where I decided the background wasn’t good enough for publication in CCT. Norm brought the ’52 to another location the week after, and that’s what appeared in the magazine. Google Custom Classic Trucks Norm John Gilbert, and you can see the original story archived on Custom Classic Trucks’ web.

Not necessarily in this order, but it’s a good bet when the subject comes to some of the lifelong relationships held dear by classic truck owners the list will include family, friends, guns, dogs, country, and of course old trucks. A good example is Norm Marshall and his ’52 Ford F-1 pickup built by Ron Scheussler of Oakhurst, California. Norm’s known Ron’s wife, Ann, since the two lived on the same street in Redondo Beach, California, and attended grade school on up to graduating from high school. In the years after high school Ron and Ann married and lived on the same street as Norm and his wife, Sally. Blasting past Ron’s years of racing at Ascot in Gardena, California and fast-forwarding to the ’80s Ron and Ann moved north to Oakhurst, California, where Ron built the ultimate home dream shop, complete with three bays. It wasn’t long before Ron became known as the hot rod building guru of the Yosemite outskirts community.

It was in 2001 when Ron started on the ’52 F-1, and true to his “get out of the way, I’m going to get it done” reputation the ’52 was completed by 2002. Suspension grafts was one of the areas where Ron specialized, and hanging a Pontiac Firebird front clip (same as Camaro) on the shortened nose of the ’52 F-1 ‘rails was one of the first modifications the truck’s original chassis underwent. For brakes, Ron retained the stock Firebird front discs, along with the stock drum brakes attached to the Ford 9-inch rearend Ron suspended from parallel leaf springs. Ron’s intentions were to use the F-1 as a shop truck, so a set of airbags were hung in place between the frame and leaf springs to help the old truck out with a heavy load if need be. For rolling stock on the rear Ron used a pair of 15-inch Cragar chrome reverse wheels shod with P235/75R15 Bridgestone tires, and up front the Cragar/Bridgestone combo was downsized to P185/75R14. Under the hood, propulsion comes from a 350-inch Chevy punched out to 355 inches. For induction an Edelbrock carb and intake manifold combo rests between a pair of billet aluminum valve covers. The automatic overdrive transmission is a 700-R4, and the ignition is based around a GM HEI distributor, famous for its simple one-wire hook-up.

When one takes a close look at the extensive customizing Ron did to the ’52’s body the one-year completion period takes on an increased appreciation. Starting from the F-1’s radical nose where Ron flipped the front sheet metal robbed from another ’52 F-1 upside down and then created a grille cavity and roll pan things get kind of serious. The next steps were to channel the cab 2 1/2 inches, and bob the front and rear fenders. In the rear, Ron fabricated a roll pan from scratch and then welded up every body seam and molded them in. When the time came for the ’52 to get shot in a champagne metallic derived from some kind of Mopar, Ron’s nephew Larry Klecka drove up from Las Vegas and sprayed it on. The striping over Larry’s paintwork was done by Dale “Sogy” Oftedal of Fresno, California. Sogy is known for his extremely intricate work where he loads his brush with two colors and then blends it into one color to form a very thin line.

It’s on the ’52’s interior where Ron’s old-time hot rodder ways match what he did on the outside. For power windows, power door locks, and air conditioning Ron scavenged parts from newer GM automobiles and made things work. From the GM air compressor to the rear of an unknown aftermarket head unit the air conditioning and power options are true mongrel hybrids. The seat frame used is one glommed from a Monte Carlo, and then Ron sectioned out the middle and welded it back together to fit within the F-1’s notoriously narrow cab. With all of the interior amenities handled the next move was for the F-1 to be transported to Rick Struck’s Auto Upholstery in nearby Ahwahnee, California. A good friend of Ron’s, Rick stitched a combination of tan fabric and leather to provide the old truck with luxurious appointments and that good cowhide smell.

If you’ve noticed we’ve been referring to Ron in the past tense, that’s because he passed away in mid-2005, it was in September of 2007 when Norm acquired the ’52 from Ann. Norm told us “that old truck is a part of the family, and a tribute to one of the great hot rod builders. There’s no way I could have let it slip away from us.” The only changes Norm has made to the truck since he got it was to install a Grant wood-rimmed, banjo-style steering wheel and rack up a bunch of miles on the odometer.

                                                                      — John Gilbert

Leave a Reply

Back to top button