Nicole and her ’53 Ford Project
Chicago, Illinois – Sometimes, we find our cars. Sometimes, they find us. For Nicole with her ’53 Ford and me with my ’48, the latter rings true.
In 2006, shortly after getting my Ford F1, I wrote a short story based on how my truck found me–with a few mystical elements added in. The story is told from two points of view: a girl at a hotrod swap meet, and a Ford F1 with a FOR SALE, PARTS or WHOLE sign in her window. Mae, the truck, is heartbroken over the idea of being torn apart. The girl hears her plea and comes to the rescue.
In reality, I had no intention of buying such a big project, but a month after first seeing the truck, I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and so I made the call.
Maybe that’s how Ford trucks find their owners. By getting into their heads.
Four years ago, Gasoline Dame Nicole, like me, heard the plea of a ’53 F100.
She had sat outside in a shallow grave for almost 25 years. There wasn’t much to her except a shell, lots of animal droppings in the cab, a possible birthing place on the bench seat, and smells of ass.”
And yet, Nicole brought the truck home on a flatbed and began the long project of bringing the beast back to life.
The ’53 Ford–dubbed Calamity Jane in honor of Nicole’s “lack of grace”–needed everything.
“I bit off far more than I could chew with this truck! There are moments I want to kick, scream, and fight with her, but then I sit back and look at her, thinking to myself, “Wow, this truck is so damn cool.”
All but 5% of the work Nicole has done herself: sanding off layers and layers of paint, C-notching the frame, installing a custom rear axle, updating the entire brake system–including drum-to-disc conversion on the front. She’s put in a new steering wheel, drive shaft, gear box, and stand alone heater core.
As for the drive train, the ’65 289 has been rebored, acid dipped, and rebuilt with all new parts, including new pistons and rings. She upgraded to a high speed cam, moved the shifter off the tree to the floor, rebuilt an AOD 4-speed tranny.
With any project, mistakes are made. It’s how we learn.
“Never put the engine and transmission in without the flywheel…need I say more.”
She rewired the entire truck. Replaced the vacuum wiper with a motored one.
Cosmetically, the ’53 now has a custom bed, new floor boards, and tailgate parts–although she’s still searching for the perfect tailgate.
There are custom inner fenders. The sanded body has been sealed, primed, and painted.
The “smells of ass” in the cab have been vanquished with new interior, door seals, side window parts, and arm rests. And most importantly, there’s a new glove box. A girl’s gotta store her lipstick somewhere, right?
Whew. I’m exhausted even writing this list.
Metal work is the one area Nicole wants to become more proficient with, to master the art of heating and cooling, of making the material move the way she wants. I have no doubt she’ll get there.
“It’s all about the practice, the push and the pull. Also having a fire extinguisher close–should you start a fire–never hurts.”
With rebuilds as huge as this, a point comes when a person hits their max. They want the project done. They want to drive this thing that has sucked up their time. They want reward for the blood, sweat, and tears given to the beast. Nicole has hit this point, and so set a goal of June 1st to have the truck completed. She’s tired of waiting.
Within the last month, she dismantled the truck completely again to get everything just right, including all new nuts and bolts. In case you were wondering, this is what a full kit for a ’53 looks like. That’s a lot of nuts and bolts.
For the first drive, she anticipates:
“…pure adrenaline mixed with some fear thrown in, along with relief, including what sex on four wheels smells like while hearing the perfect guitar riff topped off with a giant middle finger to the world.”
As for the most rewarding and most frustrating moments?
“Most rewarding–the day she rolled into my garage. Most frustrating–the day she rolled into my garage.”
Any who’ve been in her shoes understand that sentiment exactly, but there’s something about driving a classic that can’t be replicated.
“It is that badass feeling they give you just standing next to one let alone driving one.”
There’s a “beauty of simplistic possibility with a splash of raw primitive desire.” For Nicole, it’s “the curves of the body, the way the classics drive with the road, the way they smell, the curiosity, the stories they never tell, how they pick you.”
Sometimes, you pick your car, sometimes it picks you.
The ’53 chose wisely with Nicole, although I’m sure Nicole would simply give a humble shrug and say:
“I’m just along for the ride.”
KEEPING UP WITH NICOLE:
- Nicole founded an all-girls car and motorcycle club in the Chicago area, the Gasoline Dames. Check out their website here.
“People often ask how I started the Gasoline Dames CC – this truck helped me realize dreams, bloodied some knuckles and is the sole inspiration of why the club started. It continues to be a supporting factor in the heart, motto and stance of the Gasoline Dames CC.”
- You can find Nicole on Facebook here.
With one week to go, Nicole is working her butt off. Everyone send an encouraging cheer her way!
Until next time…