CTP Feature
Local Knowledge typography
Ricardo Benavidez’s ’61 Ford F-100
BY Rob Fortier & Ricardo Benavidez  PHOTOGRAPHY BY Tim Sutton

ack before we had the Internet to do all the learning for us, the knowledge of old cars and trucks was handed down through family, friends, and, of course, good ol’ printed paper magazines. If you ended up becoming an F-100 lover, it’s highly likely it’s due to your father, uncle, or even a neighbor having owned/built one as you were growing up. These days, unfortunately, it’s whatever’s trending on social media that takes hold and sticks with kids … that is if they’re even interested in cars to begin with!

'61 Ford F-100 rear view of trunk
'61 Ford F-100 front bumper and grill view
'61 Ford F-100 meters and gauges on dashboard
'61 Ford F-100 bed of trunk
For Ricardo Benavidez, his Ford affliction came the old-fashioned way. He told us, “I’m San Jose, California, born and raised. From fifth grade through college (2000) I worked for my next-door neighbor who was a backyard mechanic. This launched my love for cars, especially classics. I restored my first ’65 Mustang in high school (1992-1996). Through the restoration process I learned that ’60s Mustangs and other Fords were built in San Jose. This created an affinity for Mustangs and F-100s, especially those built in San Jose.
'61 Ford F-100 engine closeup
'61 Ford F-100 steering wheel closeup
'61 Ford F-100 interior door detailing
“During college I had to sell my ’65 Mustang for a commuter vehicle and for nearly 20 years I was without a classic car or truck. It wasn’t until five years ago that I had my own home garage and it was time to get back into getting my hands dirty and rediscovering my passion for cars and fixing things. In the last five years I’ve purchased, fixed, and sold three trucks: a ’65 Ford F-100, ’67 Dodge D100, and now a ’61 Ford F-100. I love the thrill of the hunt, fixing and upgrading, networking and community with other car/truck lovers, and passing my vehicles to others to enjoy and improve on. I believe we need more people interested in old vehicles for preservation purposes (history on wheels). The more people who like the classics, the more classics we’ll be able to save. The more people who will learn about the craft of fixing cars, fabrication, and metalwork, modernizing drivetrains, and so on, we’re preserving the hands-on mechanical, bodywork skills that are disappearing. More importantly, we’ll inspire the next generation of designers, builders, and so on. (My wife only allows for one classic truck/car at a time … otherwise I would have a collection of trucks to fix and restore, donor vehicles, and so on!)
'61 Ford F-100 side profile under freeway bridge
'61 Ford F-100 wheel and rim closeup
'61 Ford F-100 rear view outside of brick building
“The previous owner worked 20-plus years for Ford Motor Company in Southern California. He discovered this ’61 F-100 original-paint truck in the desert a few years ago. Through his network of friends, the truck was built in his garage—he believed in being hands-on and wasn’t afraid of working long nights and weekends. Unfortunately, he was in a major a motorcycle accident and the truck wasn’t comfortable and/or compatible for his injuries, so he sold it to me.”

As the Unibody sits now (substantially lower courtesy of a coilover IFS and triangulated four-link), it wears its original suit of red, albeit well patina’d (which Ricardo washed with Comet, buffed, and treated with linseed oil!), complemented by 20-inch Polished-lip Ridler 650s concealing four-piston Wilwood brakes. Long gone is the old Y-block and granny-geared trans—in their place, a Lund Racing–tuned, PBH-controlled Ford Gen 2 Coyote backed by a 6R80 six-speed overdrive do a much better job of powering the old Effie! Ricardo handled the upholstery himself, acquiring a set of buckets “off Craigslist from a rat rod owner,” as he put it, adding Dakota Digital instrumentation, Flaming River steering, and wiring up with an American Autowire harness before putting some well-deserved miles on his ’61!