Making it Showroom Quality
When Jeff Shaffer bought his 1963 Ford F-100 Stepside pickup back in 2010, he didn’t know it would become the ultimate perfectionist project.
The journey from beat-up pickup to showroom feature lasted longer than a year from the time Shaffer parked the truck in his garage to the day he rolled it out complete. Along the way, Shaffer’s work centered on doing every aspect of the restoration just right.
From blemish-free dash knobs to custom-cut windows, the truck that began as a leisure project became an escape for Shaffer.
“I had more fun working on it than when I was done with it,” Shaffer says. “I wanted to keep working on it, so I found every possible thing that I could do to make it showroom quality. There wasn’t a thing that I didn’t want to be perfect.”
As a manager and partner at Pfeiffer Collision in Grand Rapids, Mich., Shaffer spent his nights and weekends meticulously tearing down the car to the frame. He also called upon some help from his sons, all three of whom work for Pfeiffer Collision. However, Shaffer made sure he did most of the finishing work on his own.
“I didn’t ask for any help with the reassembly except for what I had to,” Shaffer says. “I just didn’t want anything to happen to the truck or its pieces.”
Shaffer faced a number of challenges when it came to finding parts for the rare Stepside. When he originally bought it, he and his sons thought the truck had been built in 1964. But after finding the original steering column parts from a 1964 model, which didn’t fit, Shaffer looked into the VIN number a little further.
“I found my truck was built very late in ’63,” Shaffer says. “When I went to rebuild an original 3-on-the-tree column, the ’64 parts didn’t work. That, besides the frame, was the only major difference between the two years.”
After finding the correct parts, the rest of the restoration became a waiting game. Shaffer had his oldest son, who is a painter at Pfeiffer Collision, paint the truck piece by piece.
Along with the Dupont (now Axalta) Ford Race Red paint, Shaffer made few other modifications to the truck’s stock look; one of which was installing custom windows made with tinted glass. He did, however, did decide to keep the original wooden bed floor.
“The most challenging part was the planning,” Shaffer says. “When you have to wait for coats to dry on the wood, all while waiting seven weeks for a nearly irreplaceable bumper to come back from the restoration and chroming process, it’d get kind of nerve-wracking.”
Now, Shaffer’s F-100 finds its way into the shop showroom for the winter months, and back out on the cruising circuit when it warms up.
After putting nearly $37,500 into the restoration, he says the truck was appraised at $37,800.
“So, I guess I’ve made about $300 on it,” Shaffer says with a laugh.