New England’s largest cruise night, which takes place in the parking lots of Gillette Stadium – home of the New England Patriots – and Bass Pro Shops, draws upwards of 2,500 cars every other Thursday in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Amid almost 3,000 cars and thousands of onlookers, we searched to find unusual and interesting cars to write about.
We stumbled on this extremely nice custom built 1954 Ford pickup; it looked like one of those exotic builds built for a rich guy by one of those high profile rod shops. To our amazement, with the exception of the engine and interior, the truck was built at home by its owner Mark Baker and his good friend Bill Barnes.
Starting out as a long bed F-250, Mark wanted to run a short six-foot bed, so he began by shortening and boxing the factory frame rails and installing a Heidts IFS front cross member with Mustang II components, 2-inch drop spindles and a set of Wilwood 11-inch’ disc brakes.
Out back, a Lincoln donor car gave up its Ford 9-inch rear and factory disc brake setup, and sits right at home connected to the ’54’s frame rails thanks to a TCI four link and coil over shock setup. A new 3:89 geared posi, and a pair of 31-spline axles replaced the stock 9-inch’s internals, knowing all too well that the power Mark was planning to send through the driveline had to be strong enough to withstand the power of a Blue Oval Big-block.
To finish the chassis and set it on all fours, he chose a set of 20-inch American Racing polished Torque Thrust wheels (8’s up front and 10’s in the rear), all wrapped in BFGoodrich tires.
For the engine, Mark contracted Proformance Unlimited in New Jersey to build 500-plus-cubic-inches of Ford big block. Starting with a 460 block and internals like Mahle Pistons, Eagle crankshaft and rods, Comp Cams camshaft and valve train, and Edelbrock cylinder heads, all the parts were assembled and balanced to create the perfect symphony of beauty and horsepower for this one-of-a-kind rolling work of art. Mark chose a built C-6 transmission with a B&M shift kit and converter installed for firm shifts and reliability against the monster big block engine.
First on Mark’s list was getting rid of all the rust, replacing cab corners, rocker panels, and floors. He cut and shortened the bed to match the now shorter frame. Shaving the door handles, fabricating for wider rear fenders, and a custom reverse opening set of hinges for the hood was painstakingly done, and the work is absolutely flawless.
The real heart-stopper is the paint scheme; it’s a custom two-tone graphic design that is like nothing we have ever seen, it doesn’t cut the truck in half like most two tone hues would do, it makes for one of the coolest paint jobs period!
While in the midst of trying to decide on colors and graphics, what you see on the truck is what he came up with one morning, running miles of tape and graphic lines, dousing the truck in Dupont Hugger Orange and Black. Mark explained, “The paint reflects the mood I was in that morning, so I laid it out on the truck and here it is.”
The inside of the bed is finished in the same paint scheme as the rest of the truck and is lined with custom oak flooring with polished stainless strips, much too nice to use as a truck in our opinion. The painted graphics incorporating the Ford logo on the tailgate was amazing, everywhere we looked, we noticed the subtle but high attention to theme and detail that set this truck apart from others.
The interior was one thing Mark felt he should leave up to a professional to do, so he gave the guys over at Cape Cod Upholstery a call. Since Mark knew what he wanted the inside of the truck to look like, mainly black leather and suede, and let the guys complete it. They added orange piping to match the trucks’ exterior, and Mark credits them for the great looking interior.
For monitoring the vitals, he chose a set of Omega Tan Series gauges. For the entertainment side of things, Mark installed an Alpine stereo and amplifier and a hidden 10 disc CD changer. There are two 6x9s mounted in the door panels and two 2-inch tweeters hidden in the headliner.
Looking like something that should be touring to shows like the Grand National Roadster Show, or in quest of the Ridler Award, Mark has done an amazing job on this once neglected old Ford. Everywhere we looked, whether inside, outside, or underneath, it was awesome, almost too nice too drive. He also can’t thank his wife, Tricia enough, for putting up with all his long hours in the garage, and for not divorcing him while he spent more time with the truck at times than he did with her.
This is one of those cars that when you see it, it draws you in and you cant stop looking at it, and when you go back for another look you notice another custom modification that looks so clean, that you swear it was born with. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of Mark and we cant wait to see what the future brings, and what else he has up his sleeve.