'56 Ford Panel Truck
Highway Hog

What is the furthest distance you can drive across the United States? Florida to San Francisco is pretty close to the longest trip you can make, and James Campbell did it. He found a listing online for this '56 back in 1999, but it was literally across the country. Like the hard-core enthusiast he is, James caught a jet out to the Bay, and after turning over some cash, took the panel truck back home. With 3.92:1 gearing and a pretty short tire, the trip seemed to take longer than he imagined. There was no speedometer, just a tachometer to keep the over-revving under control. He moved so slowly that he didn't pass one car or truck until Alabama. He never added the gasoline receipts for that trip, but it wouldn't surprise us if it came close to the actual purchase price of the truck! This trip is how the truck got the name "Highway Hog," not because it was particularly functional for highway driving, but because the steering box it had was so sloppy, it used up the whole highway.

James calls himself a novice when it comes to car building, but he likes them so much that he is willing to make mistakes to learn how it all works. He's got the support of his wife, which always helps. "Though it might be hard to tell, I've been working on the car for the last decade," he says. The sluggish steering box got the boot for a tight rack-and-pinion setup, and the rearend got a more highway-friendly 2.75 gear ratio. He can't wait for the day it's all together, and he and his family can cruise their air-conditioned panel truck, hiding from the swampy Florida air.

By The Numbers
1956 Ford Panel Truck
James Campbell, 43 • Spring Hill, FL 500 hp

Type: 460-inch big-block Ford
Oiling: Melling pump, Ford Motorsport pan
Rotating assembly: Wheeler rods, TRW forged pistons for 9.5:1 compression
Cylinder heads: Ford Motorsport aluminum Cobra Jet heads
Camshaft: Melling .544-/.569-inch lift, 224/234 degrees duration
Valvetrain: Melling double-roller timing chain, COMP pushrods, Scorpion rocker arms
Induction: Performer RPM intake, Holley 780-cfm Street Avenger carb
Ignition: Pro Form distributor, MSD ignition box, Taylor wires
Fuel system: Carter mechanical pump
Fasteners: ARP
Front suspension: rack-and-pinion steering, factory control arm and strut rod
Rear suspension: factory
Brakes: four-wheel disc
Rear end: Ford 9-inch with 2.75 gears
Body: all steel, recessed firewall
Paint: satin black primer
Wheels: TBD
Tires: whitewall