Student rides: The unexpected restoration

Mike Falco
The first stage of restoration.


Mike Falco
Up in the sky for rust repair.

Every car guy has to start somewhere. Most of the time their first cars are boring econoboxes with no personality. Other times, a car that a family member owned or a family friend once owned, will be dropped into their laps just to get them to shut up about buying a Camaro or Mustang. Mike Falco was born into a car family. Both his grandfather and father having passions for restoring classic cars. Growing up around Plymouth ‘Cuda’s and various other pieces of American steel, Falco knew that when he finally reached the magic age of sixteen, he wanted his own cool, classic car.

Mike Falco
Stripped all the way down to a bare chassis

His first car story starts all the way back in 1991, when his father walked into the Ford dealership to buy his first brand new car. He left the dealer driving his very own “Hot Red” 1992 Ford F-150 custom pickup truck that would one day become his son’s first car. At first, the truck was primarily used to build Falco’s dad’s dream garage in the early 1990’s, and then later sold to his aunt to be used as a daily driver in 1995.

Unfortunately in 2002, his aunt passed away leaving him with the truck once again. Not having room to keep the

Mike Falco
Interior all re-done

truck at home again resulted in it being sold, this time to a family friend by the name of Steve. The truck was driven around for another two years until being parked in Steve’s driveway for a decade.

Eventually in 2014, Steve faced some medical issues and had to move. Falco and his family were there helping him move when he decided to give the truck back. Since it was sitting in the same spot for 10 years, the truck was in absolutely terrible condition.

Mike Falco
Restoration almost done!

The paint was faded to a sad shade of red, the whole body was rusted out from abuse and neglect, and the brakes were seized, which made it a pleasure to drag out of its resting place. Not knowing what he was getting into, Falco thought he would just fix the brakes and drive it in its poor state.

“I thought that I was just going to fix the brakes and engine and drive it as it was,” said Falco. “When I got to my Grandpa’s shop the next day, I found my Grandpa and uncles unbolting the truck bed to do a full restoration on it. After that, I was sucked into the project and restored the truck from the ground up.”

The truck was in really bad shape. After sitting for so long, almost every single system on the truck had to be gone through just to make it work again. First, the bed of the truck was lifted off by a crane to gain access to the fuel tank so they could replace a faulty fuel pump. At the same time, the truck bed had much needed rust repair done before it spread any further. Every spot of rust was cut out and new metal was welded in back to factory specs, smoothed over with body filler and painted. Everything minus the engine and bare truck cab were removed during the

Mike Falco
Mike Falco Sr with his brand new truck. Circa 1991.

restoration, leaving the truck as a shadow of its former self.


Throughout the whole summer, Falco worked tirelessly to get the truck road-worthy again, and by the end it was in decent enough shape to be driven to school everyday. The interior, suspension, body, exhaust system, engine, fuel, and electrical system were all restored back to factory condition.

Mike Falco
Restoration complete!

He proudly drove for about a half year until the last leg of the restoration was completed with the truck bed finally being painted a new shiny shade of red, and a three inch lift being installed to give it more of an aggressive stance. To this day, the truck still is his faithful daily driver and no matter how much it breaks, or makes him mad, he could never sell it.

“I learned a lot fixing it and accumulated a lot of new skills that I normally wouldn’t have learned,” said Falco. “Restoring the truck wasn’t the best financial decision, but you can’t put a price on experience. After working on the truck and various other projects for so long, I’ve even adopted my own phrase when looking at an old vehicle: ‘there’s a fine line between rust and patina’.”