The Legend of Legens Hot Rods

If it weren’t for the Legens’ Hot Rod Shop being named after the man himself, Steve Legens, you might wonder if we mis-spelled the name. The legendary hot rods that roll out of this shop are thoughtfully crafted masterpieces. Jeff Perkins’ 1960 Cardinal Red F-100 pickup and Robert Anderson’s Metallic Green 1940 ½ Ton pickup are two notable examples of Legens’ award-winning skills and talent.

1940 and 1960 Ford Pickups built by Legens Hot Rod Shop

Before we get too far into the builds, homage must be paid to Steve Legens, the man who started it all. His work ethic was instilled when he was just 10 years old, mowing yards with his granddad. Soon thereafter, he was making $125 per week, a lot of money for someone his age in 1973.

His family owned dirt bikes and go-carts, and he would customize anything he could get his hands on. He has fond memories of his grandad’s ‘62 Chevrolet Impala, which they drove down gravel roads and through fields. “That car was my first rattle can paint job,” he exclaimed.

Steve’s career in automotive began when he bought his great aunt’s ‘54 Chevy for $125 at age 13. He customized it, despite not being licensed to drive. When he turned 15, he purchased the first car that he could legally drive, a ‘69 Plymouth Roadrunner. “I was the guy in high school with the cool cars. It seemed like I traded cars every week,” Steve reminisced. He had 1955-‘66 Chevys, Plymouth Roadrunners and GTXs, and 1967-‘69 Camaros, Firebirds, and trucks.

Working on heavy equipment for International Harveste,  afforded him his first hot rod in 1979, a 1931 Ford 5-window Highboy coupe, which he made to resemble John Milner’s ’32 in the film American Graffiti. By the 1980s, Steve started a new career in tool-and-die making for MTD Products, where he sharpened his keen eye for detail and perfection.

The word about Steve’s craftsmanship got out after he built his first, full-blown 1940 Chevy chop-top hot rod from the ground up. He began taking on part-time hot rod projects until demand allowed him to pursue his lifelong dream: He bought eight-acres of land in Martin, Tennessee, and built a 7,200 square-foot shop with separate areas that supports his every need. Today there are 10-15 projects in the shop at any given time. This journey brings us to the two extraordinary builds that we’ve been dying to share with you.

The Fantastic Ford F-100

Jeff Perkins of Greenfield, Tennessee, is longtime friends with Steve, so when he was ready to give his 1960 Ford F-100 Styleside an overhaul, he called Legens. While Jeff and Steve discussed the goals for the build, designer Eric Brockmeyer assisted with the planning and provided concept illustrations that became the project’s blueprint.

For exterior enhancements, the Legens team customized a ‘58 F-100 hood and added vents at the nose. A ‘58 grille and headlights added a subtle change that only F-100 aficionados could recognize. Side windows were replaced with one-piece glass and the truck was shaved to achieve a smooth look.

Steve’s favorite feature on this truck is the body and bed side trim, which extends almost the entire length of the truck and visually elongates the overall profile. Narrowed custom bumpers replace the factory front and rear bumpers tie it all together.

A walk around to the rear of the vehicle reveals stacked dual ‘60 taillights, and a tailgate that was modified to incorporate Legens concealment hinges. The beautiful bed floor shows off flamed birch panels from Bedwood & Parts, evenly separated by stainless steel strips. Below a remotely-operated hinged floorboard, a Legens fuel filler concealment kit was added, which leads to a Rock Valley stainless steel tank.

The body sits on the original frame, but the factory rails were boxed and C-notched. The updated chassis features an IFS by Kugel Komponents, and a Currie 9-inch Ford 31-spline rear-end. RideTech provided the parallel four-link setup, rear Panhard bar and HQ-Series coil over shocks on all four corners. The pickup rolls on Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires mounted to Schott Mod 5 EXL wheels, and front and rear Wilwood disc brakes provide the stopping power.

Hiding under the hood is a cleanly-installed Ford 5-liter Coyote modular engine with a few extra goodies. The Borla eight-stack injection system feeds the beast and gives a nostalgic look to the otherwise modern setup. A FAST XFI fuel management system is paired with a FAST XIM ignition module for trouble-free travels. The Sanderson headers were customized by Legens and are joined to a dual three-inch exhaust. A pair of Borla ProXS mufflers fine-tune the Coyote’s howl. Power is laid to the ground by a Ford 4R70W transmission.

A glance inside of the cab reveals a stock dash with red-faced Classic Instruments gauges. The pickup’s original steering wheel was reduced to a 15-inch diameter and mounted on a Flaming River tilt column. Distressed leather upholstery is stretched over the door panels and Wise Guys seat frame. Ford emblems embellish the seat backs, which match the emblem on the engine cover. Air conditioning is provided by Vintage Air, and R&B Vintage Auto radio components wired to Pioneer speakers provide premium sound for long road trips.

The Mean Green Machine

Former NASCAR driver and Savannah, Georgia, resident Robert Anderson found his ‘40 Ford pickup at a construction equipment sale in Mississippi. He drove the car for 10 years, but by 2013, he wanted to show it on a larger scale, including a massive drivetrain upgrade. “I talked to Steve Legens and he was excited to give both the Coyote engine install and the entire frame-off build a whirl,” Robert said.

The 5-liter Ford Coyote engine features an eye-pleasing Borla stack injection system which is mated to a FAST XFI Ford 4R70W transmission. The Magnaflow exhaust completes the look and compliments the deep harmonic eardrum-tickling sounds. 

The engine wasn’t the only big modification. Steve had always wanted to fabricate a large back window in a pre-1948 Ford. “To my knowledge, it’s the only ‘40 Ford pickup with enlarged rear glass, and we still have the mold for it,” Steve said.

Other exterior modifications include a subtle but alluring 1.5-inch chop. The car was also nosed and shaved, and custom bed and tailgate panels were made. The bed floor is fully custom and integrates the Legens fuel filler concealment kit. Legens’ custom grille completes the look.

Under the body is a Currie 9-inch Ford rear end with Ride Tech suspension and TCI suspension for the front. Schott wheels are placed over front and rear Wilwood brakes.

The dazzling details carry over into the Interior. Classic Instrument gauges are mounted in a Legens custom dash. The Vintage Air system guarantees comfort, as does the modified Wise Guys seat frame upholstery with brown leather.

Both trucks were shown at SEMA, and the 1940 was honored with the Goodguys’ Early Truck of the Year award shortly after its completion in 2015. The F-100 was the finalist of the year at the 2016 SEMA show, and at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals it was chosen for Street Rodder’s Best Ford in a Ford award.

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