A Dream that Became a YouTuber's Reality

Craig was told that he began pushing books around the floor as a baby to imitate a rolling vehicle. Cars ran through his blood at a very young age that only progressed more into his high school years. Ironically, he is the only one in his immediate family that had the passion for the older cars. His uncle and grandfather had a significant impact on growing his interest in hot rods. Every Friday night, they would host a local car show in Escondido, California known as the “Cruisin’ Grand” car show. His family had helped run the show for his uncle every Friday night. This particular show had all the pre-1974 American hot rods, live music, handing out awards, and continues to maintain that same atmosphere back 50-60 years ago which is still going on to this day. 

Through the years, Craig would talk to his cousin, Michael, about cars while hanging out at the show or work on anything that had to do with wheels and an engine. Having a strong interest in hot rods, it led Craig to want to own one by the time he got his license at 16. With that said, nothing was going to stop him from buying a vehicle to show off at the family-run event. 

Once it was time to look for the right vehicle. Craig thought back when he previously spoken with classic car owners at the Cruisin’ Grand show about their first vehicle. They would talk about how the car was some rare optioned car that is worth a ton of money today. Because they had kids or lost interest, they had sold it to purchase a minivan. Knowing the rarity of the car, they wish they had never sold it. With that thought, whatever Craig ends up buying, he was determined to keep the vehicle with him for his entire life. When it was time to start looking for one, he did not have a criterion that he was looking for other than it had to be a pre-1974 vehicle so he could show it every Friday night. 

The first place he looked was Craigslist. With the countless searches each day, he went from Ford Mustangs, to Dodge Coronets, to Mercury Comets. He then narrowed his interest to the Ford truck market since it was almost nonexistent compared to its opposing Chevrolet C10 pickup. His uncle always pointed out and praised a classic Ford truck with a factory short bed. He once said, “you need to get one of those! Man, that would be so cool with these wheels, lowered, and painted…” Craig’s family had never owned a truck and thought it would be the perfect addition to the driveway. 

For three months, Craig took a look at about five different F-100 trucks in every condition imaginable. There were two trucks that he was interested in. The first truck was a beautiful 1995 F150 4×4 short bed that had a new engine. This truck was perfect in every shape and form. Then there was this 1971 F100 short bed, but it needed work. It has been sitting for over 20 years that barely ran or drove. With countless searching and looking at various trucks, it was time to narrow one down. He had decided on the 1971 truck. When it was time to confront his parents, it was not easy to convince them. He had a strong ideal that he was NOT selling his first vehicle and to build the way he wanted and to continue to grow the memories at Cruisin’ Grand.

A week after looking at the ’71, he had given up on trying to persuade his parents that it was the truck he wanted. On March 5, 2016, he left for the morning for a standardized test at his high school. When he came back home, his dad was head-to-toe with grease. Not knowing what to expect, Craig walked around the corner of the yard to find the 1971 F100 sitting on the side of the house with the engine torn down and ready to get to work. It did not take long for him to change into his clothes and started working on his new project. It was his first time turning a wrench which made the project longer to complete, but it allowed him to educate himself on how one is put together. He spent countless nights working on the truck to make it street legal. It was all made possible with help from his dad. 

The F100 had the original paint and factory 302 with a “three-on-the-tree” shifter. After getting it running and driving, it was time to learn how to shift through the gears. From then on, Craig has driven it to high school every day and began modifying it the first chance he could with a limited budget. One of the first modified parts was a set of long-tube headers found on Facebook Marketplace for $40. It fit the truck perfectly. With the help of his friend Marty, he quickly cleaned the rust off and repainted to have them install on the motor looking like new. Once he received them back, Craig immediately cut the exhaust out from the block and began the difficult task of installing the headers. It took them the whole day to install the new headers since they were designed to go in with the engine lifted about 2”. At about 10 pm, he fired it up for the first time with the open long-tube headers that sounded like a full-blown race engine. 

The next day, Craig drove the truck to his high school an hour early to wait for everyone else to show up. Every day, his friend with the C10 would park next to him. Once there was about 20 of his friends crowding around their trucks at the parking lot, he waited for his friend with the C10 start and step on the gas. Shortly after, he started his truck up. Not only did it shock his friends, but it set off car alarms with a truck that once sounded like a vacuum cleaner. This was one of many proud moments. 

Later on, Craig worked at a Little Caesar’s pizza place making very little money but was enough to save up to buy an F250 that was very similar to his own. His friend sold him his totaled-out truck that had good parts to use and sell. $400 later, his friend dropped off the truck at the side of his house. The only item needed for the F100 was a complete set of AutoMeter gauges. It did not make his mom very happy seeing the truck alongside of the house. He then began tearing the truck down to the frame. During that time, he was documenting the whole process on YouTube. Craig ended up making over $1600 on the truck and only keeping the set of gauges. In that month, he had made more money than he had working at Little Caesar’s. At the age of 17, he had quit his job to purchase another truck with the $1,600 and eventually flipping it for $4000. During this time, he documented each of the builds on his channel to grow it. Additionally, he put some of the money towards his truck to make it better as he went. 

Over the years, the F100 has gone from all original with a stock 302 and 3 speed to a complete street machine. From high school until now, this F100 has made extensive changes. It has been lowered by doing an axle flip in the rear, repainted the underside, and an all-new interior. The interior was updated with AutoMeter gauges, suede dash, carpet, custom American flag headline, a rare factory Mustang bucket seat conversion, and limo-tint windows. The installation was to keep a NASCAR / Hot Rod feeling to it. 

With the many changes to the truck, the exterior has remained the same since he bought it. Craig does not plan to ever paint the truck. It wears its 50+ years of battle scars and age. The patina was one of many reasons why he wanted that particular truck over the other ones he had looked at. Even though he will never change the exterior, he will continue to modify the truck. In the future, he wants to add a fully forged, destroked 331 or potentially a long rod 302 that can turn 8000 RPMs. The power goal is around 400+ wheels and an ear-piercing NASCAR exhaust that can be heard miles away. However, this will have better suspension, brakes, and a full cage to participate in autocross events that will lead to a strong competitor in the truck class. 

YouTube Channel

During the header installation process, Craig and his friend filmed the entire process to show his friends. After three months of featuring his build on YouTube, the video went viral, surpassing 1 million views and gaining over 10,000 subscribers. With those numbers, he finally gained monetization on his channel and knew it was his shot to keep going with it. He began filming his process and built a channel that he felt was impressive given that he was young and what was popular on YouTube at the time. 

Over the six years, 450+ videos, and 100k+ subscribers later, he still enjoys recording his builds and seeing his channels grow day by day. Today, he has owned around 15 different vehicles, and the F100 is the only one that money cannot buy. Craig had said, “It will never leave me because as I created it, it had created me at the same time. Without it, I would not be the same person or the way I am today. I will continue evolving it and pushing the limits that a Ford truck is capable of.”

1971 F100 

  • AutoMeter Designer Black series gauges
  • 11.6:1 small block 306 
  • High duration COMP 280H cam
  • KB dome pistons
  • Blueprint Engines aluminum heads, single plane intake, and lightweight McLeod clutch and flywheel
  • Tremec 3550 five speed
  • Ford 9” with a Lincoln 9-3/8” carrier and 4.10 gears
  • Back: 295 Front: 275 with 15×10” wheels

Check out his YouTube channel with this link or follow him on Instagram @thecraig909