Gateway Classic Mustang’s F100

Regular readers of Mustang Monthly and the viewers of this site most likely know Gateway Classic Mustang as the builders of bitchin’ Mustangs for street and track use, as well as the purveyor of trick performance suspension parts for Mustangs and more. If you’ve been to any Ford event that has some sort of action, GCM was most likely tearing up the pavement in their familiar yellow 1968 Mustang hardtop.

GCM is made up of Jason and Lonnie Childress, who came from the Monster Truck world (Lonnie drove the famous Big Foot monster truck for eight years and Jason drove Grave Digger and debuted the Batman truck). They opened GCM in 1999 in St. Louis, MO (hence the company name) with the motto of “bringing performance to classic and modern Fords” and started building world-renowned cars, including Mustangs for Sammy Hagar and a Bullitt clone for Chad McQueen. So yeah, they’re known for cool and fast Mustangs, but behind the scenes they were working on Lonnie’s next big passion, the 1967 to 1972 Ford F100 “bumpside” pickups. Lonnie said, “I have loved that body style forever. I bought one in the ’90s but didn’t know anything about it, I just loved the way it looked.”

After a chance sighting during a family holiday, Lonnie saw this ’69 F100 sitting with a “for sale” sign in the window a short walk from his parents’ house, and he bought it for a mere $400 saying, “It was rough. I wanted to do a ‘patina’ truck but they had already stripped it, so I went ahead and built it nice.”

Not all trucks belong on the farm. All of the LED lighting on the truck is from United Pacific.

He’s referring to the truck’s chassis that is comprised of a stock frame with a late-model Crown Vic front suspension grafted on with GCM’s coil-over kit designed for the Crown Vic using JRi parts, which GCM offers now in either non-, 1-, or 2-way adjustable configuration. The 3-link rear suspension is a bolt-on to the stock frame, with Lonnie saying, “You just have to knock the factory brackets off and drill a few holes, but it’s very easy to install. There’s only one measurement to take to set the front torque arm crossmember.” The torque arm plants a 9-Inch Factory rear.

Baer brakes are hiding behind custom Curtis Speed Equipment 20-inch wheels.

The powerplant is a 5.2 Ford Performance Aluminator, which GCM offers as a swap kit, backed by a Tremec T-56 with some Modern Driveline parts to adapt it to the mod motor and add a hydraulic clutch. The exhaust is all Magnaflow and the brakes have 15-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers all around from Baer Brakes, and Lonnie said, “This thing stops on a dime.” The wheels are one-offs from Mike Curtis of Curtis Speed, sized 20×9 front, 20×11 rear with Michelin Pilot Sport tires.

The body was in pretty rough shape, even for a $400 truck, especially the bed floor so it needed lots of bodywork. They first had Redi-Kleen chemical strip everything then began the process of fixing all the rust and nastiness. They found an NOS hood at Carlisle, “which was nice since you can’t find them,” said Lonnie, and added new fenders. The bed floor probably consumed the most time since nobody makes a repro floor for this generation truck, so they had to get a ’73-’79 floor and make it fit. Lonnie said, “We have hours and hours and hours of bodywork just in the bed floor.” The final statement is an eye-catching coat of Axalta Hot Hues Firecracker Red paint and a color-matched spray-in bedliner.

A 5.2L Aluminator engine from Ford Performance with a JLT cold air intake. A Performance Rod and Custom radiator with a Spal fan.

The interior is super comfortable, with Recaro seats and custom Classic Instruments adapted to the stock gauge bezel. It looks stock, doesn’t it? Note the shift ball on the stick. Modern Driveline helped out with parts.

The next time to see an F100 pickup truck with a mean-looking stance, we suggest you don’t challenge it unless you’re packing some serious heat. Because it might have just been touched by Gateway Classic Mustang.

Two of the subtle mods on the truck are this bed-mounted (under the rail) pop-up fuel filler and a receiver hitch and wiring plug behind the license plate.

Photography by Kevin DiOssi