Elite-level Coyote-powered 1978 F100

A cherished F100 workhorse is transformed into an Elite-level trophy winner in honour of a great mate

Photographers: Matt Williams

WE ALL know that cars have a way of bringing people together, but things were a little bit different for Jeff and Maureen Saverin. For them, it was a lifelong friendship that led to the creation of this stunning F100 and a Rockynats Top 10 finish.

First published in the November 2021 issue of Street Machine

The Effie you see here came from Jeff’s best mate, John Wohlsen. He built Jeff and Maureen’s Eagleby home, and was later named godfather to their son Matthew. For decades, he and Jeff were inseparable. “They’ve got drinking stories you wouldn’t even want anyone to know about,” Maureen laughs. “Their friendship was just really terrific.”

John bought the long-wheelbase F100 Custom from Gary Burns Ford on 17 April 1978, and put it to work carting tools, timber and practically anything else John needed in day-to-day life. Later on, he designed and built a custom camper to fit over the tray. Dubbed the ‘Gypsy Wagon’, John used it for touring with his partner Jeanette.

Sadly, John passed away in 2013, and Jeanette put the truck up for sale. “John and Jeff had been friends for the longest of times, and knowing how well Jeff looked after it, we bought it out of respect,” Maureen says.

The truck slumbered for a few years under its new ownership, until Jeff and Maureen sold their fishing trawler. With the extra cash in their pockets, they decided to revamp the F100 into a suitable tribute to John.

By their own admission, Jeff and Maureen aren’t ‘car people’. “I’ve been a fisherman all my life,” says Jeff, “so there are people more qualified than me!” Nonetheless, they knew what they wanted and exactly who could make it a reality.

Jeff and Maureen’s son Matthew happens to be a long-time gearhead, and is good mates with Pat O’Shea of Pat’s Pro Restos.

The Beaudesert shop has turned out a multitude of show-winning cars, not to mention Pat’s own wheelstanding, nine-second Drag Challenge XR Fairmont (SM, Dec ’18).

Pat was the obvious choice for the job, and received a fairly straightforward brief: make the truck into an ultra-reliable, stress-free driver without sacrificing its heritage. “The main thing was that we could get in and go,” Maureen says.

The original straight-six was pulled and replaced with a Coyote V8 from a 2017 Mustang. It’s backed by a 6R80 six-speed auto, extracted from the same car. The donk’s stock 410hp was deemed idea, so both the motor and ’box were left unmodified. Engine management is handled by a Ford Performance Control Pack, which is packaged with an ECU and plug-and-play harness. Exhaust is a twin 2.5-inch stainless system from Extreme Custom Engineering.

A custom-made three-inch tailshaft turns a Strange nine-inch diff with a 3.9:1 Truetrac centre and 31-spline axles.

Jeff and Maureen didn’t want the truck to handle like a 43-year-old workhorse, so Pat welded in BA Falcon front and rear ends, using kits from Car Guy’s Garage in Thomastown. It’s hooked up to a power-assisted BA rack, itself matched to a tweaked XA Falcon column. With the front end came DBA stoppers, while the four-linked rear wears Wilwood four-piston calipers and 12-inch discs.

John’s meticulous ways meant the ute was straight and rust-free, having been garaged all its life. The original aluminium tray was replaced with a tub, but body mods were otherwise kept minimal. The paint is a custom Glasurit mix created and laid down in-house at Pat’s Pro Restos, and is slightly brighter than the original yellow duco.

Between PPR and Buderim upholsterer Chris Bakker’s work, the ‘factory-improved’ theme is reflected perfectly throughout the interior. It’s 70s brown as far as the eye can see, but don’t expect to find any cheap-and-cheerful vinyl. Chris wrapped the original bench seat in distressed leather with chocolate inserts, a combination that carries over to the door cards.

“The workmanship done on the interior is just immaculate,” Maureen says. Even the seatbelts are matching brown items, and the floor is covered with brown German-weave carpet.

Pat and his crew thrashed on the truck full-time in the weeks leading up to Rockynats 2021, though Brisbane’s snap lockdown almost kept Jeff and Maureen from attending the debut.

Luckily, restrictions were lifted the day before Rockynats kicked off, allowing the couple to join Pat in the Rare Spares Elite Pavilion when the covers were pulled off. If that wasn’t exciting enough, the truck also earned a Top 10 spot in the Elite category. “The recognition is great,” Maureen says. “But it never would’ve happened if Matthew and Pat weren’t mates – the same with Jeff and John.”

Since the ’Nats wrapped up, COVID dramas have put the brakes on long-distance trips, but Jeff and Maureen have been racking up as many kilometres in the truck as possible. “It handles extremely well,” Maureen enthuses. “I love how as soon as you put your foot on the accelerator, it responds so well.

“I would drive it all the time, but with the insurance here, there’s a few restrictions on how many times a month you can.”

The F100 is a brilliant tribute to a beloved mate, and the final product has left Jeff and Maureen floored. “We are both really impressed; Pat’s done such a wonderful job,” says Maureen. “It was purely out of respect for John that Jeff decided to have it brought to this level. It’s brought us a lot of joy.”

1978 FORD F100

Paint: PPR custom Glasurit mix
Brand: Ford Coyote 5.0L V8
ECU: Ford Performance
Fuel system: Aeromotive in-tank pump
Exhaust: 2.5in stainless
Gearbox: Ford 6R80
Diff: Strange Engineering 9in, Truetrac centre, 31-spline axles, 3.9:1 final
Front: Viking adjustable coil-overs
Rear: Four-link, Viking adjustable coil-overs
Brakes: DBA Falcon discs (f), Wilwood discs (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood 1in
Rims: BCI steel; 20×8 (f), 20×9 (r)
Rubber: Michelin Pilot Sport; 235/45R20 (f), 275/45R20 (r)

Pat O’Shea and his team of dedicated workers for putting the grunt back into our F-truck; special shout-out to Pat’s wife Kasia, the glue behind the scenes