How to Customize a 1951 Ford Pickup

Written by dakota wright
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How to Customize a 1951 Ford Pickup
(Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Customising a 1951 Ford truck is a labour of love that allows you to be the designer. The finished product will be a reflection of you and your ideals. Like any project, to customise a fat-fendered Ford you will need a solid plan.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Journal
  • Parts supplier list
  • Shop and repair manuals

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Start a customisation journal that includes modifications you like, parts needed and automotive resources to help during the project. Parts for a 1951 Ford pickup are hard to come by, so be aware of aftermarket parts and accessories that will work in place of the originals. Include a detailed financial plan and an idea of the project outcome.

  2. 2

    Join classic truck clubs. Classic truck club members can help with locating parts, as well as give you valuable information and opinions during the build. Many classic truck enthusiasts have built or participated in custom restorations in the past. Using members of these groups as a sounding board is an ideal way to find out what will and won't work during your project.

  3. 3

    Inspect the truck and locate replacement parts. A 1951 Ford pickup likely has a few missing or damaged parts. From 1948 to 1952 Ford manufactured the first "F series" trucks; other than mechanical upgrades and minor design changes, trucks during those five years are similar enough to salvage parts from. The F1, F2 and F3 were the most popular makes sold each year. The major differences among them are the fenders and the truck bed. The fenders on the F2 and F3 are wider than those on the F1. Additionally, the bed on the F1 was 6 1/2-feet long, while the F2 and F3 were sold with an 8-foot long bed.

  4. 4

    Customise the parts you can easily change. Paint, interior, electronics systems and tires and wheels are the most common customisations for the 1951 Ford truck series. Keep in mind that these trucks are old and options like power steering, air bag suspension and highway driving speeds weren't factors when these trucks were manufactured.

  5. 5

    Consider upgrading safety features and comfort systems. Adding seat belts to a 1951 Ford truck should be at the top of your priorities. The 1951 Ford pickup was manufactured with a full metal dash that could be very unforgiving in an accident. Replace the drum brake system with disc brakes through a kit. These kits can be purchased through Summit, Jeg's and auto parts dealers. You cannot purchase new brake shoes for these trucks; the only option for keeping the system original is having the brake shoes relined. Consider adding a heating and air system to the truck for improved comfort. Inspect the "See-Clear" pedal-powered windshield washer for defects and restore this option if you can.

Tips and warnings

  • The 1951 Ford F1 was the 1/2-ton in the series.
  • In 1951 the F2 was the 3/4-ton truck sold by Ford.
  • The 1951 Ford F3 is the heavy duty 3/4-ton version of the F2.
  • Keep nuts and bolts in clearly marked bags and keep these parts organised; replacements may be nonexistent.
  • Document disassembly procedures with a camera to use as a guide for reassembly.
  • Get a tetanus shot; old trucks are rusty and it is only a matter of time before you are cut on something.

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