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For Miami-based YouTuber and automotive photographer Solomon Lunger, car building shows like PowerBlock and Overhaulin’ were his version of Saturday morning cartoons when he was growing up. Obsessed with the process behind creating custom vehicles, Lunger aspired to follow in the footsteps of designers like Chip Foose, and after taking some welding and bodywork vocational courses in high school, he spent some time after graduation fixing and flipping old muscle cars he while sorted out what the next move would be.
“For a while I was just buying beaters for a few grand, wrenching on them a bit, and then selling them and moving on to the next project,” he recalls. “Along the way, I got this El Camino that I started taking to car shows, and I met these guys from this big national car club who had some pretty cool builds. After I got back from the show, I decided to Google the car club and I noticed they had this really crappy website. At the time I was also considering getting into web development, so the next time I saw them at a show, I decided to offer to build them a better site on my own dime.”
The club’s president was onboard with the idea – so much so that he handed Lunger a camera and told him to follow the club around to get some shots of the members’ vehicles for the project. “Before that I was mostly into traditional builds, but they really got me into the custom side of the hobby,” he says. “And at the time, my brother and I were also interested in going to WyoTech, so we decided to make a road trip out of it to go check out the campus. We drove from Miami to Sacramento and stopped in with a bunch of these different chapters of car club and did photo shoots along the way.”
Lunger went on to focus on bodywork and chassis fabrication at the school while also furthering his fledgling photography career through the car club, which eventually attracted the attention of aftermarket companies that needed product photography.
After a few years of roaming around the country shooting cars and hot rodding parts, he got married and decided to dial back on traveling, initially shifting his focus to local real estate photography. But he never really shook the gearhead bug. “I still had this F-100 that I was working on when I had time, and I was running an Instagram page called Unibody Union. I kept getting these messages from people asking me to post non-unibody trucks, but obviously that didn’t fit with the theme of the page. So that’s when I started Ford Era – a page that was for all Ford trucks built between 1948 and 1997.”
Ford Era quickly gained a strong following among Blue Oval enthusiasts, which in turn caught the attention of F-100 Builder’s Guide magazine editor Mike Alexander, who asked Lunger if he would be interested in shooting some trucks for the magazine.
“I was kind of burnt out on shooting donks, supercars, and luxury stuff,” Lunger says. “But this was just shooting the types of vehicles that I really liked – classic Ford trucks – and I quickly fell back in love with it. I worked closely with those guys for about three years, serving as tech editor for F-100 Builder’s Guide and later becoming the head photographer for Street Trucks magazine. Everything was pretty groovy at that point.”
Then 2020 happened.
“Suddenly everything was on pause. And for the first time in quite a while, I had a lot of free time on my hands.”
YouTube had always been a part of the long term plan to expand Ford Era beyond Instagram, and the shutdown seemed like an ideal time to bring all of the pieces together. After debuting the new channel with a 1970 F-250 Crew Cab build he dubbed Gold Dust, Lunger began looking for his next big project.
“Back in 2014 when I was focused primarily on the unibody stuff, this guy sent me some information about his truck – an Argentinian B-100. I instantly fell in love with it, and I started researching them like crazy. Along the way I discovered that the ones built between 1973 and 1979 were mostly produced for the Mexican market. Normally importing these is a huge process; I actually bought that Argentinian one from that guy a few years later, but getting it into the country was an ordeal that took about ten months. But with the Mexican trucks, you can just drive them across the border in Texas.”
Around the same time, Lunger befriended the founder of North American B-100 Facebook group, Michael Van Steenburg, who had side hustle importing these B-100s into the U.S. from Mexico. “I told him to let me know if a good truck came up for sale,” Lunger tells us. “A year later he told me he was moving from Texas to Michigan and asked if I wanted to buy his B-100.”
Lunger quickly came to agreeable terms with Van Steenburg on the purchase of ’79 B-100 Carryall, a clean example that was powered by the original 302ci V8 with a four-speed manual gearbox. “I decided to have the truck transported to Tennessee so I could have it at the F-100 Supernationals in September of last year,” Lunger explains. “I took delivery of it at 8AM on a Thursday, and by 6PM we had already broken it doing burnouts in the Quaker Steak and Lube parking lot.”
The carnage claimed both the radiator as well as the spider gears in the rear differential, and although they’d made it to the Supernationals show in Sevierville, Tennessee, Lunger only had a week to get the B-100 end up running again if he was going to make it to the upcoming Holley Ford Fest show at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Richardsville, Kentucky. “Fortunately we had a friend with a shop in Chattanooga who was able to help us out with a Dana 60 and a Frostbite radiator, so we trailered it up there, got it back up and running, and then drove it straight to Kentucky for Ford Fest. And after that, I drove it the 1200 miles back to Miami with no issues.”
While the B-100 was more or less stock when he took delivery of it, Lunger’s got some big changes in store for this unusual SUV. “I never leave anything alone,” he notes. “It’s actually in pieces right now, and we’re putting it on a 2020 F-250 chassis with a 6.7-liter turbo diesel powertrain. So it’ll be a ‘B-250’ once we’re done with it.”
Working with the folks at Papi’s Garage, Lunger also plans to add a fourth door on the driver’s side as well as an array of restomod touches. “I want this to be the ultimate daily driver, something my wife would enjoy driving. It’s a perfect family truck: you can fit all of the car seats and everything else into it, and it’s still a really cool truck that can tow, go off-roading, overlanding, or whatever else we decide that we want to do with it. Sort of like a vintage Expedition."
The plans call for a custom air suspension, 40-inch tires, and an updated cabin as well. “The interior will keep that classic styling, but it’ll be more livable with the seats and center console out of the 2020 truck,” he tells us. “It’s about blending the technology of 2020 with the style of 1979.”
The goal is to have the truck done in the time for this year’s Ford Fest in late September, but with an array of projects concurrently in the works, the end date is still a moving target. “That’s the hope – to return the following year with something completely different,” he says. “But my job at this point is basically to build trucks, and there’s a lot of different projects keeping me busy right now. The cool thing is that I don’t have customers, so I get to build them however I want to.”