Woah! This gave me a bit of a start when I saw it. Well, that’s not something you’d expect to just appear in a small Tokyo side street, now, is it? The low-rider custom “culture” (if that’s the word I’m looking for) is alive and well here too. Just like Americans “personalization” adepts are aped by a small European clique, there also exists an Asian side to this phenomenon.
In this case, I bet this panel van was imported recently – and probably already heavily modified. It’s one thing to do this sort of stuff to newer trucks (as documented here) or air-cooled VWs or Toyota Mark IIs, but finding a 1956 Ford F-Series in Japan would take some doing. And restomoding the crap out of it would be prohibitively expensive, though many folks here do have quite the pile of yens in the bank. I could be wrong and this could be an old US Army van that lived in Japan all its life and took a wrong turn when it got demobilized. Much easier to import one of these straight from the source. Besides, if the Internet is anything to go by, it seems a sizable proportion of these trucks have been restomodded to a very similar extent in the land of their birth already.
What’s under the hood then? SBC? Dodge V10? Toyota Century V12? Could be anything. Could even be a Ford V8, though I highly doubt it. That would be too subtle, which is not the epithet that immediately leaps to mind upon contemplating this thing. But I must say, even with this red-pinstriped pearlescent two-tone, tinted glass and missing bumper, this Ford still has some charisma. The wraparound windshield makes that high roof look like it’s barely attached to the rest, from this angle. And you thought that floating roofs were a 21st century thing?
Much as I question the need for this kind of “personalization” on a vehicle of any kind (and especially so on one so ancient), the attention to detail is quite remarkable, as is often the case with these. That dash is all kinds of over-the-top chrome-o-rama silliness, but it’s still impressive. Must make the driver blind when the sun hits it from some angles, but that’s the bright side of life for you. The seats, on the other hand, are baffling. They look like they came out of a ‘90s JDM saloon, like a Crown or a Cedric. The combination is certainly novel. But then deep-fried sea bass with strawberry ice cream a la mode garnished by a side of cold sauerkraut topped with chocolate and pistachio nuts would also be pretty novel – and induce a similar effect on one’s digestive tract.
I realize the F-Series holds a special place in the heart of many, including some senior and esteemed CC editors and contributors, so I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by pretending I know the first thing about these. Someone out there will doubtless know if this is the correct taillamp for a 1956 Ford. Out of all the gaudy detailing on this vehicle, this was the one thing that caught my eye as apparently authentic. It’s beautiful, almost Art Deco, but it might just as easily have come off a late ‘30s car.
Using this thing must be a pain, though, as it will attract the wrong kind of attention. The other day, I saw someone get stopped by the police. He was in a severely lowered car – a Toyota xB, funnily enough – and they were going through the thing with the sort of zeal and attention I sincerely hope I never have to be subjected to in the future. Two officers got a tape measure to record how low the middle of the car was, but also the front a rear bumpers. They were busy scribbling away in their notepads as the young owner, who seemed understandably annoyed, smoked a cigarette on the sidewalk (which is completely against the law, but that did not seem to concern anyone).
So if this Ford is here and registered, you can be sure that it is in compliance with every single stringent regulation included in the Japanese highway code. There are no codes governing matters of taste, alas, only opinions. You already know mine, so please do let me know yours.
CC Outtake: 1956 Ford F100 – Ten Years Older Than Mine, by PN
The Ultimate Curbside Classic: 1956 Ford F-350 Still Hard At Work Six Days A Week , by PN
Curbside Capsule: 1955 Ford F-100 – Paging Fred Sanford, by Joseph Dennis
The V8 emblem in the middle of the grille was a factory element – just not the heaps of chrome slathered upon it. However, this doesn’t mean this is the grille Ford gave it.
If it’s leftover Army surplus, it would have likely had a six-banger in it. But the Army is the Army so who knows.
Several years ago I was at a car show and saw a Ford pickup of this vintage. Looking under the hood was a sight. It seems the front subframe / suspension / whatever from a 2005 and up Ford Crown Victoria will fit perfectly to this generation of Ford pickup. The owner had purchased a wrecked CV police car for $500 and applied the good pieces to his pickup, 4.6 liter V8 and all.
Perhaps the Crown seats go with a Crown Vic drivetrain?
I’m pretty sure the chrome grille was a factory option, though of course this one has at least been refreshed and could have started out painted.
My only issues are the lack of bumpers ( are Tokyo drivers careful when parking?) and the fact that it is too low. Now I’m assuming that it’s been “bagged” and will lift up for driving, but that makes it look like a neglected Citroen with leaking spheres when it’s parked.
Up until the hydra active system Citroens sinking when parked was normal even with good spheres, mine drops when locked and lifts when unlocked not all the way though just to lowered driving height.
I’m not seeing anything gaudy, I’d call it a pretty conservative build. The body is basically stock other than the wheels, the mirrors and step plates on the running boards.
The interior is a little farther from stock with the aftermarket steering column, gauge and HVAC panel along with its vents and seats from a conversion van.
I sorta like it, odds on its on air ride suspension and will lift to driving height before moving off, not sure anout the tail lights but mid 40s Ford turned on their side would look like that, the lack of bumpers isnt that big of a problem everything else in Japan has deformable plastic bumpers so you are unlikely to damage this thing much in a parking incident under the bonnet who knows over here we didnt even know Ford US made a six we only got V8s, Chevys could be had with a six Mopars assembled here still ran flathead six but more than likely a 350/350 or 700R.
Believe it or not in the world of US Hot Rods & Custom collector cars this is rather tame and refined. Low Riders are a separate segment of Hot Rods. They are some of the most creative with over the top 3-D airbrush paintings, custom EVERYTHING, air suspensions some use to see how high they can hop. American Excess manifests itself perfectly in the form of Hot Rods because there are no limits. The little blue glass insert in the stop lamps creates a purplish contrast at nighttime. I don’t believe they were ever factory equipment in the US. All american non-emergency vehicles can only use Red, Yellow or White lights in the back. Of course many Hot Rodder’s don’t care and just do as they please.
I’d put my money on those being Chevy Astro or U body seats, they look familiar…
Gaudy wheels, two-tone paintjob with the little pinstripe, lokar steering column, and cloth junkyard seats! This thing reeks of 2004. Boy that takes me back.
The tail light housings are the original Ford style for panel trucks – although they may not be the originals. Originals housings would have had a red glass lens rather than plastic. The blue dot is either a modification to the original lens or a replacement of the original.
Don’t be quick to discount the home-grown rod/custom scene, the Japanese have their own very talented people producing some top notch work on classic US iron.
Japan has its own heavy-duty truck culture of customized trucks for paint and acessories. I have attached one example.