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.
Curbside Capsule: 1955 Ford F-100 – Paging Fred Sanford, by Joseph Dennis