Patina Or Rust? 1954 Ford F100

Right on the edge between the common perception of patina or rust, this 1954 Ford F100 pickup has obviously been used but not used up. It’s being auctioned here on eBay, with bidding that has risen to $3,000 after 10 bids and there’s no reserve to meet. The truck is currently in Yucaipa, California, and I’m waiting for you to say “that’s a lot of rust on a California truck!” Remember, California is a big state with a big coastline, and there’s no telling where this truck has been (although it does come with black plates, so it’s been in the state for a long time!

While we don’t know a whole lot about this truck, we do know it hasn’t been on the road since 1973. Naturally, it’s a non-runner now as well. It’s interesting to see how the truck has faded — do you think the greenish blue or the lighter color is the original one? I don’t know what primer was used on these trucks and was unable to find it in my reference sources. Anyone know?

Obviously the rusting on this side looks a little different, and that left rear wheel certainly doesn’t match the others. As a matter of fact, the seller tells us the truck is currently standing on at least 2 vintage Atlas bias-ply tires (presumably the other two are radials), so plan on tires and at least one wheel to change.

This close up picture of the roof gives you a better idea of the depth of the rust (not too bad). I’m still not sure if the lighter color is the primer showing through or not.

The inside doesn’t help much, with a light blue-green in this picture over most of the metal, but the very rear of the cab is painted a darker light blue. It also looks like the original bench seat was still present when that part was painted. Currently the truck has early Mustang bucket seats; a choice that would be oddly expensive now but I’m sure made sense at the time.

I’m sure this isn’t the original Ford V8, but I’m not sure exactly what vintage it’s been replaced with. Got an idea? Be sure to tell us in the comments. And, finally, I ask you, our readers: is this patina to be preserved or is it rust that should be eradicated? Inquiring minds want to know!


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  1. Derek

    That thing passed the “patina” stage a looooong time ago. Now it’s just a rusty old truck. I like it but it’s still just a rusty old truck.

  2. JW

    I like these trucks but I think if you sandblasted that roof you would have a swiss cheese sunroof. As much as I like it I would pass for one in better condition for a little more money.

    • Fred w.

      Steel used in this vintage truck is very thick. More likely if you blasted the roof (with pecan shells or glass beads) you would be dealing with rough texture from the rust, but not a lot of holes.

      • Davis

        Amazing how an older vehicle with the thicker steel can sit in a farmer’s field for decades with no paint left and not develop holes. I have to be careful polishing my ’13 Silverado to not press too hard and dent the sheet metal.

      • Classic Steel

        No not sitting in Fields just unfortunately a barn with a leaking roof!😜😆😁😄😃😀

  3. Rube Goldberg Member

    Being blue, I’m sure it’s a 352/390 and with clutch pedal down to the floor ( and no shift linkage) it could be an automatic. Those motors were a dime a dozen years ago. Somebody’s little hot-rod truck. It’s not the surface rust on these, it’s the cab mounts and cab corners that are important and this looks good. Great for resto or as is. Be nice if someone would have oiled the hood hinges before closing it.

  4. Joe Haska

    I really like these trucks, F-100 1953 to 1956, I have had 3-53’s, and I am building another one for a friend, and should have it finished ,in a month or so.
    The neat thing about doing one of these, is there are so many choices and availability of parts. The truck I am building now, was 8K, and it had a 302, AOD, 9″ Ford, with a Volare clip. It ran, and moved , but that was about it. I am Just finishing some final touches, and we have spent about 20K including the cost of the truck. It has custom wheels, new interior, sets great, looks and drives excellent. I told the owner that it would not be cheap to do it right, and he couldn’t immediately sell it and make money, but if for some reason he doesn’t like it, I was sure he could get his investment back. And ,I believe that is true now that it is almost finished
    I think this B/F truck could do the same , but 3K would be the maximum you could pay, and be able, to not in up upside down in it. Your Paint question, there was a light blue, also a dark blue, light green and I think black and white. A 54 would not have a 352 or 390, they were Y-blocks, 1954 1st year for overhead valve V-8s. 3 and 4 speeds , automatics and over-drives.
    Great trucks and they are still out there, and make good projects and can be very useful and fun transportation.

    • Jeff

      Like to see a picture of the truck you’re doing….I’m doing a ’53 myself, but it looks much like the one posted here…

  5. Pa Tina

    It’s rust all the way down. Trust me.

  6. KKW

    53-56 F100s, the king of classic pickups. The V8 emblem on the grille says the original engine was a 239 Y-block. The one in there now is an early FE, 332/352/or 390. Looks like surface rust only, would be a relatively easy restoration, and the price is responsible. I’ve seen much worse with a higher price tag.

    • Rodent

      If all the engine parts are original, my guess is ’64 352. A passenger car 390 would have had gold “THUNDERBIRD ” valve covers, and a ’63 352 would have had a 2 barrel carb.

      Real nice adaptation of the original throttle arm to the FE’s carb. Probably indicative of the workmanship on the rest of the truck.

  7. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    My older brother had a 55 back in the early 60’s. He had reversed wheels painted gold on the rear with single line wide tires from standard oil. The front had a drop axle original 15” gold painted wheels. The truck was white with 36 Chevy twilights molded in under the tailgate. It had a 312 thunderbird special engine and 3 on the tree. We lived in Redding, California in those days. What memories this truck brings back to me.

  8. Rex Rice

    My friend bought a new ’54 pickup; yellow with ‘3 on the tree’ with overdrive. It rode like a truck, no soft ride. The 239 ci engine was smooth and sounded great with exhaust stacks.

  9. Bob Turberville

    Any reason why you didn’t link to ebay on this,one?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      No, I did originally but the link and auction have disappeared. I’m looking to see what happened.

  10. geomechs geomechs Member

    Looks like a late model FE motor, possibly a 390 or 428, probably out of an LTD station wagon. The original engine would’ve been the 239 Y-Block which wasn’t the greatest ever built but served the purpose fairly well. It could also have been powered by a 223 six. The ‘Seasick blue’ looks like a standard color. I think that Ford offered about 8 different colors for the trucks back then, and somehow ended up with a bunch of light colors for some reason; I think red, black, green and blue were the only deep colors besides Airsick green, Calf scour yellow, Specimen yellow. They looked anemic for years.

    • KKW

      A later FE? Not hardly. Take a closer look, it has an oil filler tube in the intake manifold, valve covers with the letters FORD stamped in with no provisions for an oil cap or pcv valve, and the Autolight 4100 carburetor is an early version. This is a pre-1965 FE, and certainly not a 428.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I never noticed the oil filler. I got swayed by the Autolite carburetor and the blue paint, neither of which were on the older motors. but you’re right; it’s an older engine. Time to get my eyes checked….

  11. stillrunners LAWRENCE Member

    KKW is right on…..and the early FE motors are a bolt in with the front mount…

    • KKW

      Thanks for the agreement, but you’re mistaken on the engine mounting, only Y-blocks had the front mount, FEs were all side mounts.


    There is no link to the ebay listing in your write up. Also I believe you will find that the seats are actually from a 1967 Cougar. You can tell by the piece of basket weave material that is located just above the middle of the backrest.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Thanks for the tip on the seats; I’m still trying to figure out what happened with the auction (the link was originally there, but both seem to have disappeared…)

  13. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Link fixed :-) but auction over :-( $3150 winning bid.

  14. Joe Haska

    Jeff, I would be glad to send you some photos of my truck ,and the ones I have done. I am no expert, but I have been down the road with several. I also, believe in drivers, they are nice trucks, but built to drive.
    \ If you want coantact me at: 303-668-4994

  15. Ken Carney

    Had one in highschool. Mine was a 3/4 ton HD model running a 223 CID
    straight 6 mated to a 4-speed stickshift. It also had a PTO that raised and
    lowered the bed of the truck hydraulically. This came in really handy when
    we got three loads of gravel to pave our driveway as that gravel poured out
    through a small chute that was fitted into the tailgate. Yeah, the ride would
    jar the fillings out of your teeth, and it certainly wasn’t the fastest thing on
    the road, (55 MPH with a tailwind) but man that truck could work! Used it
    to pull a float in our homecoming parade in 1970. I was the man of the hour
    when I loaned my truck to the parade commitee after they found out that
    they were one truck short of their quota for parade duty. Wound up selling
    it to buy my parent’s ’66 Caddy Calais 4-door HT. Found out I could get more
    girls with a Caddy than I could with a pickup truck.

  16. KKW

    @geomechs. The Autolight carburetor came out in 1957, and were used on FEs from the beginning, along with some using the Holley 4150. Blue valve covers were on some as well, although a much lighter blue than the ones on this truck.

  17. Chebby Staff

    You could recreate Jimmy Buffett’s old Key West vehicle, “God’s Own Truck” (his was a GMC)

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