“El Chapo” – River City Rods’ 1976 Ford B100
While familiarity makes some enthusiasts comfortable, others can’t escape the appeal of finding a rarely seen vehicle to modify. This seems especially true with truck enthusiasts, who thrive on locating unusual commercial rides to put under the knife.
Craig Piggott and his team at River City Rods & Fabrication are especially adept at this. They’ve built a string of offbeat trucks that have garnered attention at the SEMA Show and other events in recent years, like a utility-bed C10 and the C20 Coachman camper that earned our Fuel Curve Pick at the Goodguys 2020 Heartland Nationals.
This slammed and smoothed ’76 Ford B100 is right in line with those builds. The B100 model was originally built in Mexico by a variety of coach builders, giving the brand a people-moving truck to compete with the Chevy Suburban south of the border. Rarely seen in the States, the B100 was the perfect foundation for a River City build.
A Roadster Shop SPEC chassis provided a good starting point for the project and was set up on RideTech air springs to get the SUV down on the deck. The truck has been fitted with a couple sets of wheels since its completion, the most recent being polished 20- and 22-inch beauties carved by Curtis Speed and backed by Wilwood disc brakes. A Ford Coyote engine was selected for power, fed by Holley EFI and topped with custom aluminum valve covers mimicking those from a vintage 427 Cammer mill. A Hurst-shifted MT82 transmission sends power to the Currie rearend.
The rare body got its share of mods, including a subtle top chop, laid-back windshield, flush-mounted glass, custom-machined roof ribs, and plenty of smoothing. The custom grille actually started as one huge slab of billet aluminum that was machined into a design combining original F100 elements blended with late-model Raptor cues. Stoll’s Auto Body sprayed the PPG Graphite Metallic Blue finish.
The SUV was treated to a custom dash with Dakota Digital instruments inside, along with an IDIDIT column, Billet Specialties wheel, RestoMod air conditioning, and Kicker audio gear. Auto Kraft Interiors did an excellent job designing and stitching the red leather upholstery over a quartet of Thunderbird bucket seats. Even the engine compartment was treated to red leather panels!
Dubbed “El Chapo” (Spanish for “shorty”), the offbeat Ford has captured the attention of the truck community over the past year, not to mention a Goodguys 2019/20/21 LMC Truck of the Year Late finalist nod to add to its long list of accolades.
Photos by John Jackson