We first met John Arrendale at the F-100 Reunion in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In fact, he was just getting acquainted with his freshly completed F-1 race truck. John had been working closely with Allen Mason of Mason’s Hot Rods in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for the last two years. Mason’s is a family owned and operated business since 1979 with some unique vehicles to their credit. They’ve built custom rides for movies such as Days of Thunder, The Fast and The Furious, Dukes of Hazzard, and Talladega Nights, along with many high-end custom vehicles for clients. You dream it, they build it.
John’s dream was building a high-performance F-1 Ford and in his search for the right builder, a mutual friend recommended Mason’s for the job. The goal was simple. John smiles when he says, “I simply wanted to go fast!” John is a unique customer, part of a family owned poultry business in Georgia that includes a fleet of more than a thousand trucks! He confesses that his need for speed began as a young man in his Georgia mountain home. As a new driver, he recalls careening around twisty mountain roads that were as dangerous as they were exhilarating. John was looking forward to airing out his new F-1 at the half-mile WannaGOFAST event at Heaven’s Landing in Clayton, Georgia. With a cool 1,000 hp underhood, the truck should satisfy the need for speed without the sheer drop-offs of those terrifying mountain roads.
Of course, it takes a monumental amount of planning to transform a dream into reality. In John’s initial search for the right project vehicle, he recalled that his grandfather had a Ford F-1 many years before. It planted the seed and fortunately there was a man in his hometown who owned more than 15 vintage F-1s, all in various stages of disrepair. John purchased several in order to come up with the parts necessary for a complete vehicle, turning it over to Mason’s with some really basic guidance. “When I first spoke to Allen, I told him I want to go fast. Here’s the checkbook,” John says with a laugh! Of course, the discussion was a bit more elaborate with the men finally deciding on a recipe for speed that would transform the stripped-down, stock F-1 body into John’s high-performance race truck.
The assembly of an all-new architecture began with Mason ordering a TCI Engineering chassis with several areas on the frame reinforced to handle the 1,000 hp goal. While the truck was not designed as a hard-core corner carver, straight-line stability had its own challenges, so specific additions included a triangulated four-bar rear, tubular A-arms up front, RideTech coilovers, and custom motor mounts. Mason added Shelby power steering and a Mustang II rack along with a Currie 9-inch rear running 3.25 gears and 35-spline axles. Wilwood disc brakes provided modern clamping pressure. Once the chassis was nimble and balanced, powdercoating by Old Furnace Powder Coating in Spartanburg, South Carolina, handled the cosmetics.
Keeping a Ford in a Ford, the motor is a 5.4-liter modified Shelby V-8 with a Cobra Jet crank, Crower rods, MMR pistons, stock cams, and custom-built, long-tube, stainless steel headers feeding 3-inch, side-exiting pipes. Lots of aspiration choices were available but the icing on this cake was the liquid-cooled Kenne Bell 3.6 supercharger capable of up to 28 pounds of boost. Mason says one of the biggest tricks to making big horsepower is keeping intercooler temps low. This truck is unique in that the blower combines a Kenne Bell BIGUN intercooler with a Double Pass heat exchanger from C&R Racing, using two 10-inch fans along with a 5-gallon coolant reservoir rather than the normal 1 or 2 quarts. A custom cold-air kit pulls air from outside the engine room, ducted from the driver side front fender. The heart of a vehicle is always the motor and the sound from this one is reminiscent of a high-dollar Italian supercar, thanks to the Kooks mufflers producing an appropriately menacing growl.
Along with speed, cosmetics were a simultaneous goal. Custom valve covers sport the truck’s logo and the firewall is clean with all the holes filled. Carbon-fiber accents, chrome, and polished aluminum rack up style points. Getting the power to the ground began with a TREMEC T56 Magnum six-speed, custom-built for the truck and capable of handling the power. Also staying in the Ford family, the wheels are Shelby-style American Racing, 18×9 up front and 18×12 in the rear, running Nitto Extreme drag radials. As a pleasant surprise, however, mega horsepower was not the only consideration during this build.
Even though the F-1 is a race truck in every sense, capable of more than 1,000 rwhp, and with a cockpit that is clearly a driver-oriented environment, creature comforts abound inside with power steering, air conditioning, power one-piece side glass, full leather interior, suede headliner, and a Lecarra wheel on an ididit column. The Shelby GT500 seats are upholstered in Marauder Gray and embroidered with the “F1000” logo. Safety was addressed with a subtle but strong chromoly rollcage built by Stott’s Racing, along with Simpson five-point harnesses. The truck’s gauges add to the aviation cockpit flair, made by Classic Instruments. The four knobs under the radio-delete panel control the air conditioning while the custom-made tall shifter works the TREMEC.
Aerodynamic issues were next on the list. Penetrating the wind is a primary concern when the lofty goal is somewhere near 200 mph, especially when you’re dealing with a body shape originally designed in the ’50s when 70 was fast! Tricks began with a flush-mounted windshield and one-piece side glass. The openings for the original hood locks were welded shut and the hood dechromed. The grille was smoothed by eliminating the parking lights and all four fenders were radiused to bring them closer to the tires, preventing air turbulence from slowing the truck. A carbon-fiber splitter up front minimizes air underneath. In the rear, the custom tonneau by KPR Racing provides a wind-cheating cover for the bed and features a built-in adjustable spoiler to defuse a speed-robbing vortex. A smooth pan wraps up the rear, fitted with classic round Pontiac taillights.
Lift the tonneau cover and you’ll discover the rear-mounted 21-gallon fuel cell that motivates the big V-8. In the middle of the bed is the clearance cover for the Currie rear and close to the cab wall is the 5-gallon tank for the intercooler. The extended inner fender panels allow the wider, road-gripping rubber necessary for a proper launch and John has a custom bed floor on the short list for the future. With all the go-fast goodies in place, the final step was spraying the truck Metallic Magnetic Gray with black lettering. Whether you are admiring the engine, interior, bed or body, you’ll be impressed with the elegant execution at every level.
John and Mason are putting careful miles on the truck now but expect it to reach the 1,000 hp mark with ease. As soon as it’s tuned, John plans to put it on the runway and is hoping for some significant numbers, finally satisfying that need for speed that began as a teenager. Oh yes, and did we mention that the truck in its debut outing captured the Truck of the Year award at the F-100 Reunion? Even before it’s launched, this high-speed ride is already off to a flying start! John sends special thanks to Allen, Larry, and Jerry at Mason’s for turning dreams into reality.
FACTS & FIGURESCHASSISFrame: Custom-modified TCI Engineering chassis, reinforced to handle the extra horsepower and powdercoated by Old Furnace Powder Coating in Spartanburg, SC
DRIVETRAINEngine: 2009 Ford GT 500 custom built by Premiere Automotive, Spartanburg, SC
BODYStyle: Ford F-1 pickup
Bodywork and Paint by: L & M Auto Body, Mill Spring, NC, black lettering by Jeremy Kemp, Spartanburg, SC
INTERIORDashboard: Smoothed and painted to match the exteriorMercedes square weave
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