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Never Paint Over Rust: 1956 Ford F-100

According to the internet, an arch nemesis is the constant foil who is always out to thwart our hero.  Batman had the Joker.  Superman had Lex Luthor.  He-Man had Skeletor.  For us car enthusiasts, our arch nemesis is rust.  There is hardly a classic car not touched by rust’s evil hand.  Some go to the trouble of eliminating rust by either cutting it out or chemically castrating it.  For this 1956 Ford F-100 for sale on eBay in LaPorte, Indiana, the solution was to paint over the rust.  While that never works, there is still time for a body shop to rescue this red Ford before it is too late.  This running and driving truck has benefitted from a lot of mechanical work and is currently sitting at a high bid of $12,200.  Is it worth it?  What would you do with this good-looking but flawed Ford?

My grandfather was my hero.  He was also the one who got me addicted to antique cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, and anything else that was old and cool.  One of his firmest pieces of advice was to never purchase a car with significant rust.  In our area, salt was never used because it never got cold enough for the roads to freeze over.  We did live close to the ocean, so the cars on that side of the state were often seen with gaping rust holes in the fenders and the bottom of the doors.  These were to be avoided at all costs.  Deep into adulthood, I moved to a state where snow is a thing in the winter.  The rust I have seen on cars and trucks in this area is shocking in comparison to those beach cars.

Of course, rust is also more prevalent in some vehicles than others.  When it comes to pickup trucks, rust is likely one of the top three reasons along with wrecks and catastrophic mechanical failure that a workhorse is sent to the junkyard.  Trucks tend to rust in the cab corners, floor pans, the sills, door pillars, and throughout the bed.  The good news is that trucks made before the Reagan era are fundamentally simple vehicles when it comes to construction.  Often it is easier to break the vehicle into its major pieces and make any cab repairs separate from the frame.  Unless it is some obscure truck or a hauler with more than a 3/4-ton rating, cab corners and sills are easy to find in the catalogs of aftermarket vendors.

The one thing you cannot do is just paint or Bondo over rust and call it a day.  Yet that is what seems to have happened to this 1956 Ford F-100.  This truck is advertised as an unrestored survivor by the seller.  Owned for the last thirteen years, a laundry list of mechanical improvements have been made to this truck’s mechanical bits and pieces.  The problem is the rust.  We are assured that the frame is solid, as are the floor pans.  It runs and drives well and is described as a reliable driver.

Despite this, we cannot escape the obvious.  The picture above is just a glimpse of the rust working to destroy this otherwise handsome truck.  The seller tells us that there is rust in both front cab corners next to the lower door hinges, rust through on all four fenders, and some rust in the bed.  Instead of ruthlessly cutting out the corrosion and welding in patch panels, the rust has been painted over.  Ignoring the rust may work for a long time if the truck benefits from covered storage and is sparingly driven during inclement weather.  Sooner or later, the issue will have to be addressed though.

Mechanically, the truck is in great shape.  Under the hood rests a completely rebuilt 223 cubic inch inline six-cylinder engine with less than 1,000 miles on the rebuild.  It runs with both the original mechanical fuel pump and an auxiliary electric pump wired to a switch in the dash.  The clutch, pressure plate, and throw-out bearing were replaced at the same time as the rebuild and the four-speed manual transmission shifts well.  The steering system has been worked over, and the braking system has received similar refurbishment.  The truck even has a new wiring harness and rides on a set of five Wheel Vintiques rims and Coker bias ply tires.  There isn’t much that is needed to keep this truck rolling down the road.

While the rust can be repaired, the possible solution might be to find a good cab and fenders to transplant on this chassis.  While many of the Ford trucks of this vintage suffer from rust issues, finding a better cab is a possibility.  It seems a shame that this old Ford is suffering from corrosion in difficult places.  Hopefully, the new owner will address the issue one way or another.



  1. Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

    Yep , nope, if it needs a body shop, run don’t walk.
    And Jeff, you need someone to proof read before you post.

    “In our area, sale was never used because it never got cold enough for the roads”

    I assume you meant Salt.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Steven Smith

      “Siren sounding, Pull over! It’s the Spelling Police”!!!!!

      Like 13
    • Avatar photo Rick

      Proofread can be condensed into one word without getting underlined in red. Well, at least here Stateside. ;)

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo Jeff Bennett Staff


      Thank you for letting me know about the mistake. I will go back into the story and fix it.

      To give you some background into how things work on this end, there is a process we go through for proofreading. Once I finish the story, we use a program that utilizes AI to go through the story looking for mistakes. As it is AI, it has trouble recognizing subtle nuances, absolutely loves to insert dashes, does not understand humor, and it balks at many of the spellings that are unique to our hobby. After going through that, I re-read the story from top to bottom looking for better ways to convey the information and for any mistakes that have somehow survived. Once I have done that, I submit the story. Unless there are no stories in line before it, it is reviewed by another editor before it is released to the general public.

      I believe that members get access to stories when they are submitted instead of waiting for the general public release. Sometimes a mistake makes it past both AI and I and is visible to a reader before the final editor gets a shot at it. That can unfortunately happen occasionally, but bear in mind that the writers and editors here are human, and mistakes can be made. Also try to remember that the writers for Barn Finds are doing this mostly for the love of the hobby. We do get some compensation, but I don’t think any of us rely on this for a day job. Somehow, we manage to turn out 500-1,200-word stories on a regular basis using a handful of pictures and (usually) a short, often vague ad as the basis for these stories. Thankfully, we haven’t been replaced with AI and the site is not populated with stories that are a poor summary of whatever the key words have generated in a scouring of the internet. That is now, sadly, the case for a number of websites similar to this one. We also are not a big publication like Motor Trend with an army of editors. For what we are, I think we do a pretty good job and all of the writers I have spoken to enjoy the work they do and the interactions with readers. I also think we turn out some awesome stories with perspectives that sometimes would get squashed by the ad department of a bigger website. To put it another way, the human element of Barn Finds is what makes it special in a very impersonal and cold online world. Warts are a part of that on occasion.

      As you are a member and an avid reader of the site, I encourage you to take a stab at writing for us the next time the site puts the help wanted sign out. It is a rewarding and often fun endeavor, and I am sure that your Australian perspective would be interesting to the readers.

      All the best,

      Like 7
      • Avatar photo Rallye Member

        I’ve written automotive tech articles and a column for a magazine for a time. I’ve been interested in picking on and praising stuff for barn finds. I’m sure the next time the help wanted sign is out, I won’t have time in the short time the sign is out to apply. Likely the next time will be 3 days before my next 4 day race weekend.
        A little customer work, gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and GSDs sometimes dictate my priorities. Let’s not forget trying to have more fun in my 70s in the 20s than I had in the 70s in my 20s.

        Like 0
  2. Avatar photo HoA Member

    Gasp! Smelling salts anyone? A vintage pickup that is actually painted? Hallelujah. Now, on to the rust issues. That area includes the front cab mount, and while repairable, a big project. The “Mileage Maker” 6, although I read it got very good gas mileage, amybe total mileage, and Fords OHV in line 6, in all its configurations, was simply the best motors OF ALL TIME! That’s right, I busted my knuckles on them all, and Ford just worked the best.
    Again, I’ve said before, it’s a shame someone stuck probably a lot of money into the motor, now considered a dinosaur, only to be tossed aside out in the rain for SBC swap. Yep, that’s the way it is.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo mike

      Hopefully you meant SBF…no Chevy swap please

      Like 7
      • Avatar photo Yblocker

        Amen to that. Better yet, a built 292, which is what I have in mine. I prefer period correct

        Like 7
  3. Avatar photo HoA Member

    Didn’t get very good gas mileage, didn’t,,, however, while they generally didn’t rack up a lot of miles, they ran for years and years with hardly a burp.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Bunky

      My first vehicle was a ‘60 Ford F100 Custom Cab, with wraparound rear window. My Dad bought it new. 223 6/3 on the tree. Needed a valve job at 80k, so we went ahead and did an inframe overhaul. New carb, major tune up- 14.5 mpg. Guy I worked with/for had a ‘67 Vette. 427 with a tripower. Originally 435 horse. Built, and dyno’d at 550 hp. He got 13.5mog. Seemed totally unfair.
      I love this truck! (I currently have a ‘56 F100 with original 292/3 speed)
      However, it would be painful to do what needs to be done. Anything less than a cab off resto is simply delaying the inevitable, while the poor thing decomposes. Frankly, I’d sell it too.

      Like 3
  4. Avatar photo Todd J. Member

    I’m surprised it has already been bid to over $12k. Mechanical improvements aside, who wants to monkey with that much rust for what is a rather pedestrian vehicle?

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Yblocker

      “Pedestrian vehicle”? Only the most popular and sought after classic truck on the planet lol

      Like 11
  5. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    With that much rust on top I can just imagine what’s underneath. Lots of body parts available but first you have to have something left to put the body on.

    Like 10
  6. Avatar photo David

    12 k confirms that someone out there has a huge hole in their head with tooo much money. Beautiful truck and worth fixing, too bad the long time owner doesn’t have sense god gave a grapefruit. All of the cars and trucks I’ve owned have been good to me, I take good care of them and they take good care of me,

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Fordor

    $12.5K?? -for this??Looks like shill bidding

    Like 12
  8. Avatar photo mike

    All those picts on Ebay but none underneath?? Can’t image what the frame looks like.

    Like 4
  9. Avatar photo Yblocker

    Aside from the price, which is a bit much, I don’t get all the belly aching, the rust is in all the usual places, and is typical for every make of truck from the period, thousands of these have been restored through the years, many worse than this one, and every patch piece, or complete panel is available. Well worth restoring, but yes, the price needs to come down

    Like 4
  10. Avatar photo TIM HAHN

    Junk compared to good dry Montana trucks. Yet it is hard to convince people they should buy and ship a western truck compared to that kind of crap that will cost a bundle to fix. And I laugh when people say “dry southern car” I saw a car shipped up here from Georgia that was rusted from the inside out. The door hinges were about to fall off.

    Like 2
  11. Avatar photo Yblocker

    Whoever said Georgia was dry? Dry southern cars come from the “southwest” Think: Arizona

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Yblocker

      And Montana trucks aren’t “dry” anymore, they use salt/sand and Chloride in the winter, I live in Wyoming, same thing

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo TIM HAHN

        Yes, but most of the old stuff I buy has been off the road for a few years and missed all that. Plus back there they literally dump the salt on thick. I don’t think people realize the damage the government is doing to the value of our cars and the cost they put on us for repairs to fix what the corrosion does to our vehicles, or maybe they do. They said lightly graveling in the winter damaged our windshields and paint, but that would be cheap to fix compared to what salt and chemicals do to the metal and wiring and wheels etc. If they would plow the roads and make everyone run good snow tires everyone would be better off financially except the salt company’s.

        Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Rallye Member

    I’m thinking of painting over rust to prevent other rust. A Volvo Amazon that was parted out, has a little rust damage and a bunch of surface rust.
    I have a few gallons of red rust primer and an assortment of older top coat paint. I want to put it together to be a winter driver for a few years. 40-50 years ago, Amazons were such fun in the snow. LSD or locked rear end would be nice without hated driver controls and aids.

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo mike danna

    Way too much dough with too many rust issues! Restoring will cost a pretty penny! Good luck!

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo Joe Haska

    I have built a 1/2 dozen of this era F-100. I was very lucky that all of them were very rust free. I really do like them and they make a great truck and there is a ton of after market parts which makes the process easier, however this truck is a rust bucket. It is fixable but at the `asking price you are buried even before you get it to your shop.

    Like 4
  15. Avatar photo Yblocker

    You’re 56 F100, if original, is a 272, the 292 wasn’t available in trucks till 58.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Yblocker

      @Bunky up above. Lord almighty, trying to put a reply where you want it, is a real challenge sometimes

      Like 1
  16. Avatar photo Troy

    Good for the seller for being open about the rust instead of trying to use paint to hide it the price is higher than I personally would go with those rust issues but I would have to hire the repairs out and most reputable shops are backed up right now. This is one of my favorite body style of the Ford trucks

    Like 2
  17. Avatar photo Barry. Traylor

    Rust never sleeps.

    Like 3
  18. Avatar photo Kenneth Carney

    Here in Florida, this truck would sell
    all day long between $50K to $100K or more. That holds true for any brand of truck sold here. I recall a dealer in Winter Haven who was selling a really run-down Chevy truck
    with a bent frame and a mashed up
    body for $10K cash– in 1987! $10K
    and the damned thing didn’t even run!
    That’s the way they are down here. If
    it’s any kind of truck, it’ll sell now for
    at for at least the prices I mentioned.
    Shoot, a base late model truck will
    set you back at least $100K or more.
    My advice to you, don’t buy a truck
    here in Florida.

    Like 1
  19. Avatar photo Uncle Buck

    Most new cars last 10 years now I know there are exceptions but if ya find a classic that unlike buy it for say 5 grand spend5 grand on fixing it up a little. Not restoration just make it a nice driver and drive it for 10 years . Except for maintenance your still ahead cause usually there is some value left . A new car from a domestic manufactur usually doesn’t hold much value so I’m sticking with daily driver classics. Even if I paint over rust in 10 years I’ll be ready for a different vehicle anyway.

    Like 1
  20. Avatar photo HemiBoy63

    Formerly driven by a junk man in Watts, California. Had a ‘Big Dummy’ for a son. And some ugly old sister-in-law, think her name was Esther if I recall. A heathen mobile no doubt, some fish eyed old fool would love. Somewhere out there though, Grady is waiting by a phone booth for the ride that never came…..

    Like 7
  21. Avatar photo AL HEARTBREAKER

    I have owned and restored many F-1’s. In my opinion this one is a goner. It’s worth a couple grand in parts only, especially with that 6cyl.

    Like 3
  22. Avatar photo ben d

    Buy a good western cab and fenders, You will save a ton of money and time.

    Like 1
  23. Avatar photo George Richardson

    That picture of the passenger side shows some floor rust. Can’t tell how deep it might be or what’s underneath the floor mat.
    Paint over rust? I’ve used POR paint successfully on frames.

    Like 0
  24. Avatar photo Steve Cota

    The rust shown in the photos is very typical for the year, they all rotted in those places, simple construction, fairly easy to fix, and repair panels are readily available. the rest of the truck will be fine. I have been driving my 1956 F-100 regularly (summers only) since I rebuilt it in 1980. (with the same rust showing as this one) The only head scratcher here is why did they pick that color for the engine ? the 272 V8 was the only engine painted yellow, the six cyl. should be blue, like the valve cover. Repair the rust, give it a decent paint job and this will make for a long lasting investment.

    Like 4

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