A Ford F-150 Built To Duel With The Desert
As a young boy growing up in Glendale, Arizona, Rich Schulz seemed destined to build an awesome ride. Being a huge fan of the original Bigfoot monster truck, his goal from an early age was to build an early '70s Ford 4x4 in the tradition of the Bigfoot Ford. Working for his dad during several summers, Rich at age 12 was able to save more than $800. When Dad pitched in another $200, the search was on for a suitable F-series 4x4. Father and son soon found an old '74 F-150 fixer-upper for sale in the local paper and bought it in a hurry, not because they were afraid it would be bought by someone else, but because they had to get home so they wouldn't miss the Indianapolis 500 race on TV. The very next day, the father and son team began tearing the '74 apart and preparing it for a complete rebuild. The buildup took nearly four years; Rich was able to finish the truck just in time to get his driver's license.
The '74's terrific performance, stout stance, and clean looks are the result of work performed by Rich, Rich Sr., and friend Wade Morlock of Mesa, Arizona. The trio decided to fabricate a custom suspension that would allow the use of 36x14.50R15 Super Swamper TSLs mounted on 15x14 Weld Racing Super Singles with 3 inches of backspacing without any clearance problems. To achieve their goal, a 9-inch suspension lift was fabbed. After a quick trip to the drawing board, the crew decided to use a pair of custom-made, 5-inch, front spring towers in conjunction with a pair of 4-inch lifted Rancho coils and strengthened Spicer spindles. The rear suspension was lifted using a pair of 4-inch blocks, reverse shackles with 5-inch drop spring mounts, and a pair of re-arched factory leaf packs. To damp the springs, Rancho RS 9000 shock absorbers were installed.
The steering system was redesigned, taking into consideration the extreme lift. Mated to the front Dana 44 axle, which houses 3.73 gears is a one-of-a-kind S-curved steering bar, which helps to keep the steering manageable during desert outings. The factory Ford 9-inch rearend was retained; it also houses 3.73 Spicer gears. To bring his junior Bigfoot to a quick stop, Rich and his dad decided to upgrade the front disc brakes to larger, more powerful rotors and calipers, though the rear drum setup remained.
With the suspension and steering dialed in, the next item of business for Rich to learn was how to build an engine that would be a strong performer off-road, yet remain civil on the street. The original 390ci Ford V-8 was removed and sent to Virginia Auto of Phoenix to be bored 0.060-inch over stock to a new displacement of 408 ci. Once completed, the cylinder heads were ported and polished. A 625-cfm Carter AFB carburetor was installed to ensure a perfect air/fuel ratio and thus enhance the engine's performance. A pair of Hooker Jet-Hot-coated headers was mated to a custom-bent, 3-inch, two-chamber Flowmaster exhaust system. The engine's list of performance components includes TRW pistons, a Competition Cams custom-ground camshaft, a Mallory ignition system, and more. The end result is a respectable output of 375 ponies. The OE four-speed manual transmission remains, as does the NP203 transfer case. The front and rear driveshafts were lengthened 4 inches by the Gloe Company in Phoenix to accommodate the increased suspension height.
Family friend Ken Weikel performed the paint- and bodywork. The all-steel body was given a once-over and then prepped for the PPG White, Blue metallic, and Silver metallic paint scheme. In addition to the three base colors, graphic flames were applied to the hood. The front factory bumper was re-chromed, and the rear bumper was replaced with a Lund roll pan.
The factory dashboard was re-covered by AMA of Phoenix. Seats from a '96 Ford F-150 were bolted into place, and new silver Ford carpeting was installed. The finishing touches were the gray burlap headliner and the gray tweed door panels by Buy Rite Upholstery.
For tunes, Paul Schulz built a high-end sound system. In charge of commanding the entire system is a Pioneer Super Tuner CD player with remote control. For additional sound power, an Orion 220 amplifier runs the mids and highs, while a second PPI amplifier delivers power to two 10-inch, custom-enclosed MTX subwoofers.
Today, at age 23, Rich still drives his first truck to and from the fire station where he works as a firefighter. And, yes, he occasionally makes an upgrade or two on his 4x4, just to keep up with the Joneses. To prove what an outstanding job was done on his 'wheeler, Rich has received more than 29 trophies to date, ranging from First Place in the World of Wheels Competition to Best Truck at the 2000 Truckin' Nationals.
|Make/model||:||'74 Ford F-150 standard-cab 4x4|
|Owner/hometown||:||Rich and Stephanie Schulz/Glendale, Arizona|
|Engine||:||390ci Ford V-8 bored 0.060 over;|
|Competition Cams camshaft; TRW pistons;|
|modified Ford heads|
|Aspiration||:||625-cfm Carter AFB carburetor; Hooker|
|headers; Flowmaster exhaust|
|Transmission||:||Warner T-18 four-speed manual|
|Axles/differentials||:||Dana 44 (front); Ford 9-inch (rear); 3:73 gears|
|Suspension||:||9-inch custom lift; 5-inch lowered spring|
|towers and 4-inch Rancho coils (front); 4-inch|
|blocks (rear); Rancho RS 9000 shocks;|
|custom-fabricated S-curved steering bar.|
|Wheels||:||15x14-inch Weld Racing Super Singles|
|Tires||:||36x14.50R15 Super Swamper TSLs|