Retired Mechanic Puts a Shine on Classic Ford Trucks

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By Bruce W. Smith

During a recent drive we came upon shiny "roll-back" car hauler carrying a beautiful 1956 Ford F-100 chained to the aluminum deck. Initially we thought the old classic pickup truck was headed to a repair shop or being taken to its new owner.

Rolling past the car hauler, however, we noticed it was a classic too: a '56 C-Series cab-over-engine flawlessly painted to match the pickup on its deck. For those who might not know, both are from their respective model's last year of production.

After doing some research, we found the owner of both trucks: John Hagen of from Eugene, Ore. Hagen, a retired diesel mechanic and former sprint car driver, is respected among classic truck and car owners in the Eugene area and known as the go-to guy for just about any type of mechanical or customization work. He has a reputation for being knowledgeable and passionate about the work he provides.

As for the two classic Ford trucks, painted Snap-On Blueberry, he rebuilt them in the mid-'90s and occasionally drags out the soap bucket and wax to clean them up for local rod runs and car shows. But he is quick to point out they are daily drivers, built to enjoy and use.

"I fire up the big truck to haul a customer's classic vehicle to the shop when they break down and to take my little truck to the shows," Hagen said. "These aren't show trucks. They're just trucks that show up."

They also are fine examples of an automotive era of simplicity still appreciated by truck aficionados today.

Cars.com photos by Bruce W. Smith

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A perfectly matched pair of Ford trucks: a 1956 F-100 on a 1956 COE. John Hagen, a retired diesel mechanic and full-time classic car/truck gearhead in Eugene, Ore., rebuilt both because he loves old trucks.

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The wood in the bed was recycled from parts laying in a junkyard. Hagen sanded and refinished the weathered and warped planks for use in his pickup. Twenty years later the bed is still in good shape for a "go" truck.

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A stock Chevy 350 powers Hagen's classic Ford pickup, backed by a TH400 automatic transmission. "I wanted to keep things simple," Hagen said.

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The rear suspension is Mustang, the 9-inch running 3.50 gears. "It rides and handles like a car," Hagen said.

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The COE's engine is a 383 Chevy stroker, backed by a Turbo 400 and transfer case. The engine was built by the late Grant Springer (Grant Springer Engines), who built Hagen's sprint car motors. It has World heads and "a small cam to help it pull better at lower rpm," Hagen said.

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The Jerr-Dan roll-back makes it easy for Hagen to load customers' classics should they need to be taken to his shop for upgrades or repairs. It also makes it convenient to take his own '56 F-100 to rod runs and car shows.

Comments

Ahh, why don't you read the links I post and educate yourself for once. Visit the link I posted above and check out the 383 crate engine offerings from GM. We all know the history on the 383 engine which was never offered as a production engine. However, the engine builder in the article knew that the 350 block and 400 crank ( all gm production parts) can power those FORD'S just fine.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 2:41:11 PM

And you can swap cranks in Ford engines also for different configurations. But in the point you failed at, this 383 had aftermarket parts on it to make more power. I'd did not have a factory head, cam, and since it was a built engine it likely had aftermarket rods and pistons. Talk about epic fail again. It is a shame you have to bring a brand war into everything. But since you suck as a pepboys mechanic this is the only thing you know. Good thing your chivey is under warranty. At least a competent GM tech can work on it for you. Just curious, how is that Kelly services job hunting going for you. Have you been asked to drive any cars lately so engineers can gather more data? LMAO.

On a serious note, one of the Fords still has a stock engine , it's just not made by Ford. LMAO! I have to ask, why didn't the engine builder go with a 351 or 400 ford block. Maybe it's because they are junk like the 4.6 and 5.4 that came after. LOL!

On a serious note, one of the Fords still has a stock engine , it's just not made by Ford. LMAO! I have to ask, why didn't the engine builder go with a 351 or 400 ford block. Maybe it's because they are junk like the 4.6 and 5.4 that came after. LOL!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 3:30:29 PM

He probably got them in a junk yard like the rest of the truck parts. Plenty of those engines there.

Maybe it's because they are junk like the 4.6 and 5.4 that came after. LOL!


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 3:30:29 PM

I'm curious, what GM engines can handle a reliable 1000+HP with a stock bottom end like you find in the Ford GT, Shelby GT500 and terminator mustang with a 4.6L.


Maybe it's because they are junk like the 4.6 and 5.4 that came after. LOL!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 3:30:29 PM

The sad thing is, is you try to talk like you have a clue about performance. When in fact the closest thing you had that was fast was your cobalt SS.

These Ford clowns just can't admit that those Chevy engines give you the best bang for your buck. Lots of HP and long lasting. These trucks are driven daily. These are great trucks with those motors, I would do the same... No need to make the engine compartment showroom condition for a daily driver. Dumb Dumbs.

What production FORD makes a 1000 HP. Does it come with a warrenty. LOL!

The sad thing is, is you try to talk like you have a clue about performance. When in fact the closest thing you had that was fast was your cobalt SS.

Posted by: LMAO | May 19, 2016 3:54:43 PM

Speaking of cobalts and 1000 HP, I seem to recall watching tuner drag racing with Cobalts making 1000 HP. There was probably as much warranty on one of those as it was on your 1000 HP Fords. LOL.


What production FORD makes a 1000 HP. Does it come with a warrenty. LOL!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 5:26:52 PM

Do yourself a favor and have your wife read what I wrote and explain it to you.


I seem to recall watching tuner drag racing with Cobalts making 1000 HP. There was probably as much warranty on one of those as it was on your 1000 HP Fords. LOL.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 5:34:18 PM

Here when I thought you were nothing but a crusty old guy. Not sure if you are into tuners but at least you watch them on TV. You should try going to NOPI.


What production FORD makes a 1000 HP. Does it come with a warrenty. LOL!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 5:26:52 PM

No warranty but most parts are production.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chAzHrM3eGg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIj9VvbVVMM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l2m0XWTxSw

The last one you will probably like because it is vs a COPO Camaro. I thought those were the GMs rebuttal to the Cobra jet. I do not know a lot about those though.


What production FORD makes a 1000 HP. Does it come with a warrenty. LOL!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 5:26:52 PM

No warranty but most parts are production.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chAzHrM3eGg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIj9VvbVVMM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l2m0XWTxSw

The last one you will probably like because it is vs a COPO Camaro. I thought those were the GMs rebuttal to the Cobra jet. I do not know a lot about those though.


What production FORD makes a 1000 HP. Does it come with a warrenty. LOL!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 5:26:52 PM

No warranty but most parts are production.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chAzHrM3eGg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIj9VvbVVMM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l2m0XWTxSw

The last one you will probably like because it is vs a COPO Camaro. I thought those were the GMs rebuttal to the Cobra jet. I do not know a lot about those though.


What production FORD makes a 1000 HP. Does it come with a warrenty. LOL!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 5:26:52 PM

No warranty but most parts are production.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chAzHrM3eGg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIj9VvbVVMM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l2m0XWTxSw

The last one you will probably like because it is vs a COPO Camaro. I thought those were the GMs rebuttal to the Cobra jet. I do not know a lot about those though.

What production FORD makes a 1000 HP. Does it come with a warrenty. LOL!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 5:26:52 PM

No warranty but most parts are production.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chAzHrM3eGg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIj9VvbVVMM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l2m0XWTxSw

The last one you will probably like because it is vs a COPO Camaro. I thought those were the GMs rebuttal to the Cobra jet. I do not know a lot about those though.

Here when I thought you were nothing but a crusty old guy. Not sure if you are into tuners but at least you watch them on TV. You should try going to NOPI.

Posted by: LMAO | May 19, 2016 6:33:09 PM

Actually, i'm not into tuners but I think it's cool what can be done with them drag racing wise. I'm more into road racing, Indy car or
F1. I miss the screaming 20,000 RPM v8 engines that were F1. The new v6 twin turbo engine formula just doesn't have the same appear. I also enjoy watching trans am and grand am racing. Basically, any road racing that requires the complete package for a winning car.


Actually, i'm not into tuners but I think it's cool what can be done with them drag racing wise. I'm more into road racing, Indy car or
F1. I miss the screaming 20,000 RPM v8 engines that were F1. The new v6 twin turbo engine formula just doesn't have the same appear. I also enjoy watching trans am and grand am racing. Basically, any road racing that requires the complete package for a winning car.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 6:56:58 PM

I have been to some practice sessions watching Indy cars here in the states. They are something else for sure. Those engines are just incredible for what they do. Not sure if I have ever seen Grand Am or Trans Am racing. I have been to NOPI and that is a ton of fun. Drifting is something I really enjoy to watch and have done some "recreationally". Not into the circle track "nascar" racing at all however I can watch superbike here and there. But summer time I watch almost no TV because I am outside most of time.

Superbike racing is pretty exciting to watch. I can tolerate Nascar, but not really a fan. I want to take in a F1 race either at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal or the US Grand Prix in Austin Texas, maybe both.


I want to take in a F1 race either at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal or the US Grand Prix in Austin Texas, maybe both.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 7:52:02 PM

If you can swing both you should. Sometimes you only get one chance to do something you really want to do before life kicks in again.

Sometimes you only get one chance to do something you really want to do before life kicks in again.

Posted by: LMAO | May 19, 2016 8:31:22 PM

That's a pretty deep statement for a young fella. I think you've been lying about your age. LOL!

That's a pretty deep statement for a young fella. I think you've been lying about your age. LOL!


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 19, 2016 8:41:37 PM

Believe you me, there is alot more to me than you see here. But I think you should do it if you have that strong desire. I will be in Montreal at the end of summer for work, may have to check out what is there. Never knew they had a grand prix there.

@ LMAO : Check out this Ferrari F1 car running at Laguna seca raceway. That's what 20,000 RPM sounds like from a V8. Try and imagine what 20 cars running like that would sound like. Unfortunately, the current F1 cars are running V6 turbos and max 12000 RPM. Just not the same.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UFpXGoJ3BiI

Yea it is no doubt those engines make pure magical song. I watched a documentary quite awhile ago about three Honda team I believe and they went kinda over the engine but it sure did sound nice. However I thought turbo V6 engines have been out for some time in those or am I thinking of a different class.

Yes, you are correct, during the eighties teams ran either turbo v6 or NA. Later only NA engine were allowed. That's when v8, v10 and Ferrari's v12 were used. That v12 had the most amazing sound.

@ LMAO : Ferrari V12 F1 car. Ridiculously sounding engine. Listen to it on you 7.1 audio sound system. LOL!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5SoZiTxdQyw

World's Fastest Nitrous Stock Bottom End 5.3 LS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sKPpMSVyjU.................In a mustang


@ LMAO : Ferrari V12 F1 car. Ridiculously sounding engine. Listen to it on you 7.1 audio sound system. LOL!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5SoZiTxdQyw

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 20, 2016 2:25:34 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOJkl4Agf4c

Not going to lie, listening to these engines is kinda getting me turned on LOL. Looking forward to the wife getting home............. it is funny I took my wife for a ride in a Ford GT (not mustang GT) that I did some mods on and she was heavily turned on. She was a little freaked at 160MPH but she got over it. Just like her going to the drag races. No one can say guys are the only ones that like those sounds.

whoops, that is the Honda engine on a dyno.

I will say the Americans did a great job making a V8 sound awesome but the 6 cylinder and V10s not so much. Porsche I think has one of the best sounding 6 cylinders and the Italians know how to make a V10 sound sweet.

Cool trucks. I like them regardless of brand and regardless of what type of engine. The article and pictures are good but most the comments are sophomoric. The brand bashing is distracting.

it is funny I took my wife for a ride in a Ford GT (not mustang GT) that I did some mods on and she was heavily turned on.

Posted by: LMAO | May 20, 2016 3:12:31 PM

My wife gets turned on when I pull out and begin flashing my.................visa card.

Needless to say, I keep running a lot of debt. LOL!

My wife gets turned on when I pull out and begin flashing my.................visa card.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | May 20, 2016 7:11:52 PM

LOL, now that is funny!

I always liked the 56 Ford trucks. Nice trucks and nice restorations.

if the guy is a chevy guy he should have bought a chevy truck and put a chevy motor in it, bugs me when people interchange major components like a engine



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