Mark Sullivan's slick F-truck cruiser will get tongues wagging

Photographers: Ben Hosking

Mark Sullivan’s F100 will get tongues wagging with its slick style, but also for the controversial engine choice!

This article on Mark’s F100 was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Street Machine

MARK Sullivan seems to be able to build awesome street machines as easily as my nanna could whip up an epic spaghetti bolognese. He gets the wheels, paint colour, style and mechanicals bang-on, and always turns them out quickly but impeccably finished.

Mark handled the bodywork himself, moving the fuel tank, shaving the door handles and badges and making the tailgate smooth, as well as taking the gas-axe to the rain gutters on the cab. With the two-tone paint, it all combines to give the truck a cool Cal cruiser look

We’ve run a stack of his handiwork over the years, including ’69 and ’72 Pontiac Firebirds, a sweet ’bagged ’60 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, plus the BADHQ Monaro coupe and the 2007 SMOTY-winning 1BADHK Monaro.

Up front are 2in-lowered springs, while the rear leaves are stock, with Pedders shocks all ’round. Jag disc brakes handle stopping duties up front, while XD Falcon drums bookend the 9in

You’ll note Mark’s feature cars are nearly always from General Motors brands, but this time it comes from the Blue Oval boys in Dearborn, Michigan. Yep, while you may expect a Chevy or GMC pick-up, Mark has opted for a short-wheelbase 1965 F100, smoothed and shaved, and covered in a delicious copper-and-black two-tone paint scheme. But how did a guy with such a long history of GM builds end up with Henry’s legendary commercial truck?

“I just don’t care if I drive a Ford, Holden, Pontiac or Chev,” Mark explains. “Before this F100 came up I actually left a deposit on a C10, but this truck popped up for sale still registered and driveable. While I lost my deposit on the Chev, these early F100s are a bit rarer, as C10s are everywhere today – plus the Chevy was another four hours’ drive away. And I don’t like building the same thing twice.”

This was definitely something new for Mark after a string of 60s and 70s muscle cars, but he knew exactly how he wanted the F100 to look from the moment he got it home. “I’ve always sort of stuck with the street machine, pro touring look,” he says. “I see cars around, in magazines or at shows, and the ideas develop the more you see them.”

While the sight of a Chevy small-block in a Ford’s engine bay is sure to turn blue bloods purple, Mark has sound reasons for going with the 350 Chev. “I can build Chevs myself, I know them and they’re cheap and easy to work on,” he says

The first port of call to getting the Effie looking on-point was to get it out of the clouds. Now, while Ford’s famous twin I-beam front end might have been the hot pick for hauling massive loads, it prevented Mark from getting the nose of his F-truck down to a respectable ride height. Grafting in the front end out of a Series 1 Jaguar XJ6, including the far more modern rack-and-pinion steering, allowed Henry’s sheet metal to get closer to terra firma.

“The stock Ford motor that was in it was knackered, plus Chevs are easy and cheap to put together, and I can build them myself,” he says.

“Bang for buck, the Jag front ends are really good,” Mark says. “I did get a price on the Mustang II kits and a couple of I-beam options, but for what you pay for them compared to a rebuilt Jag front end, I went with the XJ6. Jag wouldn’t have spent millions of dollars in research and development on them for them to not work well; plus the track width was only 1.5mm different on either side – they’re near-perfect for this model of F100.”

That giant shiny pump is a Sanden compressor used in modern air conditioning installations. Air con was an important aspect of nailing the truck’s cruiser credentials as Mark explains: “You need to be able to drive them, and I actually used the air con the other day in this. It works great!”

The new front end also made it easier to fit a small-block Chevy engine. Yes, you read that right. Mark has bolted the Heartbeat of America into his iconic Ford workhorse!

The 350 copped KD Tools pistons, a Scat crank and rods, and a solid-roller cam, while the stock heads were given a port job and treated to new valves by Easy Motors in Tuggerah. An MSD spark box keeps the electricity up to the SBC, though it lives hidden out of sight in the cabin. The Edelbrock Victor Jr intake wears a Holley 650DP four-barrel that was custom powdercoated at Mark’s work, PROcoat – as with many other parts on the truck.

A custom centre console divides the cabin, hiding the super-tall Lokar shifter’s mechanism and giving Mark somewhere to put his drinks while cruising. The gauges are vintage-look Dolphin units, the tiller is a billet item, cold air is moved by a Vintage Air a/c, plus there’s a Pioneer head unit

“I just love Chev engines, which is why I put them in nearly all my cars,” Mark says. “The Cleveland parts are more expensive, especially as the engine in the Effie is only a cruiser. But it’s got all the mod cons with a/c, heater and power steering.”

Behind the iron Chev is a 2800rpm converter and TH350 auto, though the diff is true to the truck’s Ford heritage as a traditional nine-inch unit. It’s been filled with custom axles and a 3.5 final drive so it’ll stay cool even if Mark puts the hurt on.

Jeff’s Custom Interiors used low-backed Hyundai coupe seats, trimmed in a mix of leather and tweed

Mark also has plenty of grip in the commercial. American Racing Salt Flat 20×8.5 and 20×12-inch hoops shod with Pirelli rubber give cornering prowess the original bias-ply truck tyres could never dream of. They look bad-arse against the sweet copper paint, offset with pearl-black roof, lower rear quarters, grille and bumpers, all shaved smooth for more of a hot rod appearance.

Old Ford pick-up interiors were utilitarian at best, which is a charitable way of saying Henry designed them to be as comfortable as a pair of barbed-wire undies. The job of making BAD65F a rad place to cruise has been handled by Jeff’s Custom Interiors, as with many of Mark’s rides. Sumptuous leather is offset by classy tweed highlights, with deep carpet on the floor replacing the old rubber mats.

That neat slide hides a compartment where the MSD spark box lives

“That’s about it for the Effie; I’ll leave it as is and just drive it,” Mark says. “I’m already working on a Kingswood wagon next and have been looking for a good early 60s Lincoln Continental – the one with the suicide rear doors – to do after that, but they’re really hard to find.”

Given his success in the past, we have no doubt there are a string of potential projects he’ll finish while looking for that elusive Lincoln!

1965 FORD F100

Paint: Custom PPG copper and pearl black

Type: Small-block Chevy
Capacity: 350ci
Crank: Scat
Rods: Scat
Pistons: KD Tools
Cam: Solid-roller
Heads: Stock iron, ported
Intake: Edelbrock Victor Jr
Carburettor: Holley 650DP
Ignition: MSD
Valve springs: Crane
Oil pump: Melling
Exhaust: Custom 2.5in
Cooling: Custom alloy radiator, powdercoated, twin thermo fans

Gearbox: Three-speed TH350
Converter: 2800rpm
Tailshaft: Custom
Diff: 9in, 3.5:1 ratio

Front suspension: Jag front end, Jag steering rack, King 2in-lowered springs, Pedders shocks
Rear suspension: Standard springs, Pedders shocks
Brakes: Jag discs (f), XD Falcon drums (r)

Wheels: American Racing Salt Flat; 20×8.5 (f), 20×12 (r)
Tyres: Pirelli; 245/50 (f), 315/50 (r)