Miami-powered 1979 Ford F100 by Down Town Kustoms

This blown Miami-powered ’79 F100 can get down low and go, go, go

Photographers: Ben Hosking

Once derided as purely practical workhorses, pick-up trucks are finally finding their space in the street machining scene. Today we think of them as super-cool, practical sleds that can look epic jacked into the sky on muddies or laying rail on big-inch wheels.

First published in the July 2021 issue of Street Machine

It was this ground-pounding style that captured Glenn Smith’s imagination, though his path to this righteous, supercharged dentside Ford F100 actually began when he tried to buy a Chevy truck!

“I had put a deposit on a Chev 3100 in Queensland, but he sold it out from under me within a day of me going to get it,” says the Sydney detailer. “I love the slammed, ’bagged, low-riding trucks like KC Mathieu’s ‘Red Morning’ F100 and Aaron Kaufman’s bumpside truck, so I found this F100 in Victoria. I paid for it sight-unseen, and then a mate and I flew down to Melbourne and Roadkill-ed it home in this mystery truck I’d just bought.

“I’m the third owner, and it was a real beast; it had the canopy on it, a four-bolt 351 Cleveland with 3V heads, and a big four-speed manual that I later converted to C6 with my daughter. I got Dream Beams lowered I-beams and made up a front airbag receiver and mount, and I did a mini-notch with a four-link out back. That sorted me out for around 18 months.”

Bigger things were to come, though. Street Machine readers may remember a teaser of Glenn’s F100 in the November 2019 issue, when it was being worked on at Down Town Kustoms in Taree, which should have given the game away as to the direction the truck was heading in.

“Being a detailer and being around the scene, I’d seen plenty of work from different shops, so I spoke to DTK’s Graeme Brewer and he was on board with my plans,” Glenn says. “I think he liked that it was different. Everyone was doing Chevs because there are heaps of parts out there, but there are none for Fords of this era. It was back to the drawing board and starting fresh for DTK, but I knew I was in the right hands with them.”

Powered by Ford’s 315kW, supercharged 5.0-litre mod motor known as the Miami, Glenn’s truck now has way more grunt than when it rolled off the line. Behind the spicy five-oh is a factory ZF six-speed auto that will make the Effie run sweet on the street.

“A lot of my mates had started building bigger, tougher street cars, so I figured the dirty old farm truck didn’t cut the mustard,” Glenn laughs. “I found a whole conversion listed on eBay with parts from a 2011 FPV GS that had copped a rear-ender in Canberra. It had been put into a ’67 Mustang, but that guy pulled it back out to go with a more era-correct 427, so I jumped on it.

“It had everything – even the a/c parts, wiring, transmission, radiator – just not a computer! I ended up sorting out a stock FG GS ECU, thankfully. The conversion was so complete, even down to the power steering and air con lines, which are all FG GS bits, and that means they’re off-the-shelf parts if I need spare parts as well. The only custom lines are really the hardlines for the air suspension.”

While F100 twin I-beam front ends are legendary for hauling heavy loads, they’re a massive impediment to getting the tar-scraping ride height Glenn longed for, so Graeme and the DTK team got to work designing a new, carefully engineered front end (see sidebar). Out the back is a complete DTK chassis clip, with Slam Specialties airbags mounted on the triangulated four-link arms. AccuAir management keeps the ’bags level and legal, and a nine-inch from Geelong Diffs handles the grunt.

“Making everything fit wasn’t too bad with Glenn’s truck, but it’s not just a ’bag job to make it sit flat on the ground,” Graeme explains. “Because he wants to drive it everywhere, I spent extra time in CAD to simulate the chassis so it would drive perfectly, get the power to the ground and be reliable and useable. And it really drives great.”

While DTK has plenty of runs on the board creating some of Australia’s most well-finished street machines that can haul epic amounts of tinware at shows, Glenn always wanted a driver, and that meant keeping a survivor-style finish to the bodywork.

“Underneath, everything is fresh, right down to every bolt, but up top it looks like a survivor,” Graeme explains. “That took a lot of working out, because we’re used to going the whole hog on a car’s build. It was a little difficult to stop at a point to leave that authentic survivor finish up top.”

“I had a pretty good vision in my head of what I wanted,” says Glenn. “I liked the vibe of the truck, but I wanted it enhanced. Graeme did convince me to go up to the custom 20-inch steelies, whereas I had wanted to stay with the 15s, but I’m over-the-moon happy with how it’s turned out.

“The truck is so much better than expected, and it is definitely going to be a driver – I want to enjoy it.”

The Effie is currently going through engineering, so it won’t be long before Glenn can do just that. We can’t wait.


THERE seems to be a never-ending stream of social media engineers who can’t fathom how a ride like Glenn’s F100 navigates speed humps, so we asked Graeme of Down Town Kustoms how he went about reworking Ford’s legendary pick-up.

“The suspension height range from aired out to full lift is about 220mm, with an everyday ride height of 120mm,” Graeme says. “We needed to make sure the handling characteristics performed as it should at ride height, like having enough camber gain to take corners but not too much so it didn’t over-camber at full drop. It needed to have zero bump-steer, especially when lowering the truck down for a lower ‘skate’ height, which can be as low as 10mm off the ground.

“It also needed to be able to get full lock without any components clashing, such as caliper to control arm; ball joint cup to brake rotor; steering arms to sway-bar linkages. And, of course, the wheels and tyres could not scrub on anything.
“The rear has also had a lot of thought put into it to allow the bag-on-arm set-up to give the lift we needed, make it a comfortable ride and also have very little squat in order to get the power down, which it does beautifully.

“We do this all in SolidWorks; we simulate the whole chassis and check full bump and full droop at full lock, both ways, when the bump stops are in it. This allows the truck to rest at 40mm when fully laden and 220mm off the ground when lifted, and with enough suspension travel to ride at 120mm ground clearance with no problems.

“When Glenn wants to show it, he can pull the bump stops out and lay the Ebony Texture-powdercoated frame flat on the deck, as the body was spaced up 10mm to stop damage to the sills when aired out.”

1979 FORD F100

Paint: Ford Snowshoe White

Brand: Ford Miami 5.0L
Blower, heads and internals: Standard
Oil system: Standard wet sump
Exhaust: Custom twin 3in exhaust
Ignition: Standard coil packs
Gearbox:ZF six-speed auto
Diff: 9in, Truetrac LSD, 31-spline axles, nodular-iron case  
Front: Slam Specialties airbags, KYB shocks, DTK front end
Rear: Slam Specialties airbags, KYB shocks, custom rear clip and triangulated four-link, AccuAir air management
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Rims:Custom smoothies; 20×8 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: Pirelli P Zero; 225/40R20 (f), 275/50R20 (r)

Graeme and the DTK team; all the boys for putting up with me during the build; my late mum Robyn and late grandfather Clifford; my partner Sheena and my daughter Mia