Pro touring 1976 Ford F100 – DOG TRUCK

How Matt Dec's F100 project morphed from a dog-hauling beach cruiser into a tough, low-slung pro tourer

Photographers: Jordan Leist

FOR a long time, I thought I had the noisiest car in the neighbourhood, even raising the ire of one of my neighbours. Then one day I spied a very low, very tough-sounding F100 cruising past my house, and it was clear my car had some competition in the volume stakes. A while later, I spotted the F-truck in the staging lanes at Perth Motorplex, so I went over and introduced myself to owner Matt Dec. It was good to find out I wasn’t the only car nut in the area.

First published in the February 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Jordan Leist

You don’t often see pick-up trucks built in the style of Matt’s 1976 F100; usually they sit way up high on tall rubber with plenty of ground clearance. That’s pretty much how this one started out, too, but it didn’t stay that way for long.

The back end has been cleaned up with the removal of the bumper and a smoothed rear pan that incorporates a recess for the DOG TRUCK number plates

“I bought the car off Gumtree to take the dogs to the beach. We were sick of cleaning our cars every weekend as they were full of sand, so we thought this was ideal,” Matt says. “I was looking for something you could take to the shops, park it wherever and drive it until it dies.”

Well, that plan lasted all of four weeks, but in that time the Effy did earn its name, DOG TRUCK. “After a few weeks of cruising around our suburb, the kids would always call it the dog truck, so it sort of stuck,” Matt says. “I don’t take the dogs to the beach in it anymore; we just go cruising instead, and they love hanging out the window.” In those four short weeks the truck also developed some electrical gremlins, so Matt rolled it into his shed and started pulling it apart.

A flat fibreglass tonneau hinges at the front and covers the cargo area, which is still useable for carrying stuff. After all, it is a pick-up truck

Just as he started working on the truck, another F100 showed up for sale on Facebook Marketplace, so he jumped on it straight away: “I didn’t even ask any questions; I just asked for the address and said: ‘I’m coming out now.’” Matt’s original F100 was quite rusty, but the one he’d just found had a very good cab and tray, so he brought the best bits of both trucks together to make the one you see now.

I often ask owners what inspired their build; why did they build it the way they did? I have to say, the answer Matt gave was a new one for me: “When I got the bug for these trucks, I was doing a lot of Googling and looking at pictures, and the one that caught my eye the most was a remote-controlled model car from Japan. It was the same colour and everything, and that’s where I got all my inspiration from. I always went back to it.”

Although the colour of the RC car was spot-on, Matt had to find something in the real world to match it: “I just love the colour blue. I was driving home from work and I saw a Ford Focus in Nitrous Blue. When it pulled up and I saw the sunshine on it, that made the decision – it was a beautiful colour. I’d been down the paint shop a few times and looked at colour charts, but it’s too hard to make a decision like that.”

The slammed stance is courtesy of the work done at SRM, which included installing a Jag front end, some chassis mods and lowered leaf springs out back

To get the truck looking sharp, Matt took it to Spraytek Refinishing, where they removed all the badges, shaved the roof rails and fitted a rolled rear pan. The bumpers and grille were blacked out, too, and the truck was starting to look like a million dollars. This first incarnation of the build was close to how it looks now, but there were quite a few significant changes that were about to take place.

Before and after

Matt had got the F-truck as low as he could with dropped beam axles and flipping the diff to sit above the rear leaf springs. It looked okay, but Matt’s kidneys were starting to regret the decision. Enter Clint DiGiovanni from SRM, who was selling a flat tonneau cover to suit an F100. “I drove around to his house and when I went in there he had his truck parked there. I was like: ‘What the f**k? Is that how low you can get them?’” That was the beginning of a wonderful working relationship. Clint advised Matt to get a Series 3 Jaguar front end, and before Clint knew it, Matt rocked up with the front end and said: “Where do we go from here?”

Where they went was about six inches lower, with the Jag front sporting power steering and big disc brakes and a much nicer ride than the previous set-up. Clint also refabricated the rear rails and repositioned the leaf springs to get the truck lower in the back as well. Matt’s kidneys, fillings and spine are very happy to report that the ride is much better now.

The engine is a cranky Clevo based around an aftermarket Arrow block that allows for the 427 cubic capacity. It’s got CHI Kaase heads and a 950 Holley HP for ample grunt

Of course, if you’re going to have a truck that looks fast, it better be fast, so Matt went to town in the engine bay, installing a 427-cube Clevo based around an aftermarket Arrow cast-iron block. Built by Mario at Old Skool Mechanical & Performance, it’s filled with a Scat crank and rods, SRP pistons – all forged of course – and topped with CHI Kaase 400 heads. The intake is also from CHI – a Pro Series single-plane unit – with a 950cfm Holley HP on top. The Comp cam has been given a “secret grind” by Leon from A1 Hi Performance, according to Matt. It’s a solid-roller with around 800thou lift and 252/256 degrees of duration. On the engine dyno at C&R Motorsport Developments, the big Clevo made 744hp.

The interior features bucket seats out of a late-model Falcon. The Auto Meter gauges are mounted to a custom-made, vacuum-formed dash

Yep, that should be more than enough to cruise around with the dogs, and who knows, maybe run a 10-second quarter one day. One thing’s certain: if you’re down at the track, you won’t miss it!

1976 FORD F100

Paint: Ford Nitrous Blue

Type: 427ci Arrow Cleveland
Inlet: CHI Ford Pro Series
Carb: Holley HP 950
Heads: CHI Kaase 400
Valves: Manley 2.19in (in), 1.65in (ex)
Cam: Comp Cams solid-roller, 790 lift, 252/[email protected] duration
Pistons: SRP forged
Crank: Scat steel
Conrods: Scat H-beam
Radiator: Ford with Falcon fans
Exhaust: Custom extractors, twin 3in, MagnaFlow mufflers
Ignition: ICE

’Box: TH400, manualised, reverse pattern, transbrake
Converter: TCE 8in, 5000rpm stall
Diff: 9in, Truetrac, 4.11:1 gears, 35-spline axles beneath
Front end: Series III Jag
Shocks: Koni (f & r)
Steering: F100 column, Jag rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Jaguar (f), Wilwood (r)

Rims: Vertini Dynasty; 20×8.5 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: Nitto; 245/35R20 (f), 295/35R20 (r)

Clint from SRM, who has been the mastermind behind this project; Spraytek Refinishing; Malaga Suspension; Mario ESP; Peter Veersma; Final Drive Engineering; Adwrap; Cronic Customs; Jordan Leist; A1 Hi Performance; CMP; C&R Motorsports Development; ICE Ignition; CHI Cylinder Heads; ShiftKits Australia; PDH Engineering; RS Installations; Westcoast F100 Salvage; Vertini Wheels