Ronnie Brysh 1956 F100, 1956 Ford F100, Sampson Performance Restoration

Evolving Gift – Ronnie Brysh’s ’56 F100 Began as a Surprise Gift and was Transformed into a Showstopper

For most of us, birthday years that end in a zero are usually a cause for larger-than-normal celebrations, including – maybe – an exceptional gift. For Ronnie Brysch, when he hit the big 6-O a few years ago, his family surprised him with a birthday gift that he won’t soon forget.

A year before the big day, Ronnie’s wife and son secretly bought a ’56 Ford F100 pickup and had a local shop turn the truck, which needed a lot of work, into a drivable vehicle. On his birthday, after the party guests had arrived at Ronnie’s home, the truck rolled down the driveway. “It was one of the best surprises I’ve ever had,” Ronnie says. “It was a semi-restored original at that time and definitely still needed a lot of attention.”

Ronnie Brysh 1956 F100, 1956 Ford F100, Sampson Performance Restoration

After a few months Ronnie decided that the birthday truck needed more icing on the automotive cake. “We decided to go in a different direction with the truck and do a resto-mod instead,” Ronnie says.

Ronnie ultimately learned what many other enthusiasts have discovered the hard way, that finding the right shop to trust with your dream build isn’t easy. After starts and stops with three different shops, Ronnie passed Sampson Performance Restoration in New Braunfels on the way to visit his son. He stopped and the beginning of a relationship was born.

“Allen [Sampson, the shop owner] was always truthful about the build,” Ronnie says, “which was refreshing to hear after the run arounds I’d gone through before meeting him.”

Ronnie Brysh 1956 F100, 1956 Ford F100, Sampson Performance Restoration

Starting with a Scott’s Hot Rods chassis, the team at Sampson Performance utilized a coil-over independent front suspension and four-bar rear suspension. Wilwood discs on all four corners are surrounded by Budnik 20- and 22-inch wheels wrapped in Nitto tires.

Ronnie Brysh 1956 F100, 1956 Ford F100, Sampson Performance Restoration

Nestled in the chassis is a 435-horsepower, 347c.i. Ford V8 built by Sampson Racing Engines, which happens to be operated by Dillon Sampson, Allen’s twin brother. The stroker small block is topped by a Holley Sniper EFI and sparked by a Holley ignition. Valve covers are from Billet Specialties, which also provided the accessory drive system. Exhaust gases flow through Doug’s Headers into the dual exhaust system from Stainless Bros of Leander, Texas. A 4R7OW Tru-Street automatic transmission from Bowler Performance Transmissions is controlled by a Lokar shifter and is connected to a Ford 9-inch rear that houses 3.73 gears.

Ronnie Brysh 1956 F100, 1956 Ford F100, Sampson Performance Restoration

Mid-’50s F100 pickups have always been flexible platforms for customizing. The classic design lends itself to the ideas of owner and builder. When the process works, the finished vehicle can exceptional, and we’d argue that the result on Ronnie’s pickup fits that description. “Allen did the build the way I wanted,” Ronnie says. “There were times when I wasn’t sure about something we needed to do, and we would discuss it and go from there.”

The F100’s front was reworked by recessing the grille 1.5-inches and custom designing turn signals that were 3D printed from resin. The cowl vent was eliminated, the hood was converted to a front- mounted tilt unit, and the cab was refined with deleted wing windows, rounded door corners, and shaved drip rails. The bumper was replaced with a custom pan with a flush-mounted center air vent.

Moving rearward, the smooth running boards were custom built and the rear bumper was replaced with a custom air-splitter-style pan. Taillights were sourced from a 1937 Ford and the bed floor was treated to fresh wood separated by polished stainless steel strips. The PPG Unripened Green metallic paint was applied by the crew at Sampson Performance.

Inside the cab, the stock dash was updated with custom air conditioning outlets and a new set of Dakota Digital RTX gauges. Sew It Seams Custom Upholstery handled the upholstery work, which features Moore and Giles brown leather with cloth inserts skillfully stitched over 2015 Chrysler 300 bucket seats and 3D-printed door panels and kick panels. Sparc Industries provided the steering wheel topping the tilt column, a Vintage Air system keeps the cab cool, while Lokar supplied the pedals and handles.

Years after his big birthday gift, Ronnie is still excited about the way his F100 evolved into the truck that he’s looking forward to driving. He’s happy, too, with the work done by the team at Sampson Performance Restoration. “They made sure it was above and beyond my expectations,” he says. And what’s next for this fine F100? “We are looking forward to joining in on more outings with the car club we belong to, Oil City A’s and Classic Car Club,” Ronnie says.

Ronnie Brysh 1956 F100, 1956 Ford F100, Sampson Performance Restoration

Photos by John Jackson

Dave Doucette is a long-time Goodguys member with a career in newspaper, magazine and website journalism. He was one of the founding editors of USA TODAY, editor of two daily newspapers and co-owner of a magazine publishing and trade show company. He owns and operates Real Auto Media. His first car was a 1947 Ford; he has owned Camaros, Firebirds, El Caminos and a 1956 Chevy that was entered in shows from California to Florida before being sold last year. He was one of the original Goodguys Rodders Reps and served as president of two classic Chevy clubs. Doucette grew up in South Florida, avidly following the racing exploits of local hero Ollie Olsen and, of course, Don Garlits. He remembers riding his bicycle to Briggs Cunningham’s West Palm Beach factory to peak through the fence at his Sebring and LeMans racers.