27 January 2015

Video: Custom 1969 Ford F-100 pickup has that personal touch

For Tommy Pike Customs, people and their stories are as important as their cars

Cars weren’t yet invented when Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Still, the sixth-century Chinese philosopher could easily have been talking about Tommy Pike.

“I was very inquisitive and mechanically inclined as a kid,” said Pike, owner of Tommy Pike Customs in Greenville, S.C. “I was forever taking stuff apart and putting it back together. I would much rather be doing that than going to school. I’ve always loved getting my hands dirty, especially working on cars.”

Pike eventually turned his hobby into a successful career. He tinkered with cars in his family’s garage while in high school, took a job at a car stereo/window tint shop (Automotive Accents) in the mid-1990s, and purchased the business in 2000.

Pike’s father, Thomas Pike Sr., was a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and later worked as an airplane mechanic for Delta, and he taught Tommy the importance of a strong work ethic while feeding his interest in all things mechanical. But it was Tommy’s mother, Diane, who suggested in 2005 that her son build custom cars. Diane even managed Tommy Pike Customs for a time. Her encouragement and confidence in her son’s ability proved vital – and well-placed. As Tommy’s skills and client list grew, so did his business. After twice moving to larger digs, TPC is now in a 30,000-square-foot building.

Tommy Pike Customs offers a variety of services and performance upgrades: superchargers, full engine builds, upgraded transmissions, rear end differentials, suspension upgrades and custom design packages, in addition to restoring classics. Among the notable cars that TPC has customized or restored are a 2014 Chevy Corvette, 2010 Chevy Camaro, 1973 Plymouth Cuda, ’69 Ford Ranger, ’54 Ford Customline and ’46 Buick. At the recent South Carolina International Auto Show (Jan. 16-18), Pike and his team customized a 2015 Ford Mustang.

“We’re an automotive lifestyles business,” Pike said. “We do whatever our customers want or desire.”

Pike’s wife, Stephanie, manages marketing, partnerships and events for TPC; she calls herself the President of Everything Else. The two met in 2009 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Steph served as Director of Events. They were married in 2011, and their son, Thomas Clarke Pike III, arrived a year later.

Pike’s pride and joy – in addition to his family, of course – is his 1969 Ford F-100 pickup truck.

“It sat in pieces for quite a while,” he said. “My idea was to take a really nice old truck and give it a modern feel. I started to restore it, and then we partnered with Quaker State and it all just came together.”

In addition to the F-100’s Quaker State green-and-gold paint job, the truck features:

  • Cadillac CTS-V engine
  • CNC ported LS3 heads
  • 3-inch exhaust
  • Aeromotive 1000-hp fuel system
  • Stage 3 blower cam shaft
  • Ford Crown Victoria front suspension and steering
  • Lincoln Mark VIII independent rear suspension and rear end
  • Mini-tubbed bed
  • TPC 20-inch rally wheels
  • Michelin Super Sport ties (265/35/20 front, 335/30/20 rear)
  • Smoked lights
  • Custom interior
  • Custom audio system

“Anything we could throw at it, we threw at it,” Pike said. “It’s a beast; it really is. Words can’t describe what it feels like to drive that thing.”

Stephanie Pike never met Tommy’s parents – Diane Pike passed away in October 2007 and Tommy’s father died eight months later – but she knows they would be proud of their son. And not just because of his work, but how he lives his life.

“Our guys know they’re to be respectful and display a family friendly atmosphere at every event or appearance,” Stephanie said. “Tommy purposely put his name on the company because he wanted to be held accountable and be trusted by those who choose to do business with him. He’s made a conscious effort to never lower the standards that he was raised with.”

Tommy, one of seven children and the youngest of three boys, relies on his parents’ teaching daily, both in his personal and professional life.

“Every car tells a story; every car is important to the person who brings it here,” he said. “So they’re important to us.”

For more information about Tommy Pike Customs, visit www.tommypikecustoms.com.

14 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Eric Orangeburg, SC January 28, 2015 at 14:36
    We are proud of your work and accomplishments here in SouthCarolina. This story reminds me so much of my Restorer here in Orangeburg, SC, Mr. James Clegg, good honest workmanship. It's what customers want!
  • 2
    chuck klim newton, nj January 28, 2015 at 14:37
    Nice truck, to bad you ruined it with that gm engine. Could have put a coyote in it for less money and kept the truck true. Maybe next time you will put a coyote in 72 1/2 tone chevy, ya right!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 3
    James E Raleigh, NC January 28, 2015 at 15:49
    You had me right up until 4:15 when he said the truck had a GM drivetrain. Put a Coyote in it or a big ol' 460--then maybe I'll give a darn and watch the rest of this video.
  • 4
    Alan Berry United States January 28, 2015 at 15:54
    Very nice but horrible wheels. Can't wait for this stupid fad to end and cool cars have polished rims again.
  • 5
    brent Little Goderich, Ontario January 28, 2015 at 16:44
    Hey, really enjoyed your video on the 69 F100. I have a 68, factory 4 speed, numbers match 390.Would hate to run it against that bad boy yours! Cheers Brent
  • 6
    Jason Lillington NC January 28, 2015 at 19:36
    Beautiful truck! MY only comment is that I wish he would have used a ford power train! Ford builds plenty of High horse power engines that can be modified to produce even more power! Keep your Ford all FORD!!
  • 7
    Mark Cheadle United States January 28, 2015 at 21:27
    Wow.
  • 8
    John NC January 29, 2015 at 11:03
    How about keeping it in your own lane when you are out in the twisty stuff?
  • 9
    Sam M Spartanburg, SC January 29, 2015 at 23:37
    Bad road to speed on, always lots of bicycles there, be careful!
  • 10
    Bob D Martinsburg, WV January 29, 2015 at 12:28
    This truck is amazing with sudden GO. What I would be concerned with is the sudden STOP. No seatbelts were worn or visible It would be a great loss to lose such a talented person because of a stray deer or any reason to lose control.
  • 11
    Mitchell Abrams Chicago January 30, 2015 at 19:15
    Absolutely love everything about this truck. Except the wheels. Needs something closer to the period of the truck. Sorry to give even one negative on this beautiful truck.
  • 12
    Larry Linton Broken Arrow, Ok January 30, 2015 at 12:51
    Great article and I also have a friend that I have known for thirty years that is like Tommy. His name is Dave Lewis owner of A-1 Auto Body Shop in Broken Arrow, Ok. I do have one observation. I am old school and it would have been better to use a FORD Motor in the truck since it is a Ford F-100. I know cost probably played a factor in the decision. Thanks Larry
  • 13
    Danny Hilkemeier United States February 28, 2015 at 13:02
    I am rebuilding a 53 Ford f100 it has a 515 HP FORD 351 Cleveland.You have a nice truck, but it would have been nicer to leave it all Ford. When people put ford engines in chevy's or chevy engines in fords it is worng.
  • 14
    Dan O Canada April 17, 2015 at 17:28
    Really nice work. I like the sound and the stance of your truck. Great story about your business as well.

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