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1997 Ford F-350 4x4 - Cubic Dollars

Posted in Features on September 1, 2001 Comment (0)
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1997 Ford F-350 4x4 - Cubic Dollars
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Way back when, in a simpler time and place, the only thing ever needed to build the ultimate attention-getter was a mystical thing called cubic inches. Today, that whole notion has been replaced with a thing called cubic dollars. Of course, cubic inches are still part of the equation, but at a much higher price, as you can see here with Matt and Debbie Heady's '97 Ford F-350 4x4. After many sleepless nights of planning his masterpiece, armed with the vital advice from some of the monster truck industry's pioneers (Jim Kramer of Bigfoot Inc. and Mike Vaters of Black Stallion Shocks), Matt took to his garage like an artist takes to their studio to create.

As the owner of a transmission shop, he naturally began converting the cubic dollars into horsepower by having a '71 Ford 429-cid V-8 four-bolt big-block bored 0.080 over to a final displacement of 514 cubic inches. With the foundation established, Matt worked closely with Peak Performance Engines of Fenton, Missouri, to install only the best internal components money could buy. Betweenthe Crane roller camshaft, the Eagle connecting rods, and the Wiseco pistons fitted with Speed-Pro rings to create a 14:1 compression ratio, the cubic dollars began to flow from Matt's wallet like water out of a fire hydrant. The 429 Cobra Jet heads with raised exhaust plates were ported and polished for optimum performance. Sitting atop the engine is the crown jewel, a Weiand Tunnel Ram intake manifold which was also ported and polished. Running through the Enderle Bird Catcher fuel-injection system is a highly explosive alcohol/fuel mixture. The plumbing for the engine was custom-designed by Matt, starting with the 24-gauge headers and finishing with a 4-inch Collector exhaust, which was coated by HPC. Igniting the stable of horses is a MSD Ignition system with a custom crank trigger. Underneath, a Triangle Engineering aluminum fuel cell holds all the alcohol Matt can handle for those long four-wheelin' weekends. To keep his rig cool while under pressure, a custom aluminum Griffen radiator with a Perma-Cool electric fan and a CSI water pump all work in unison.

Since Matt is an expert in transmissions, the factory Ford C-6 was modified to the hilt with six direct clutches, a hard wrap band, and a billet apply arm that is fully rollerized. A Tranz-King shift-improvement kit replaced the factory components along with the addition of a transmission brake and a fully manual reverse pattern. A Turbo Action Cheetah shifter and a Continental 8-inch 5,500-stall custom torque converter were also called into action. A SCS 11-inch drop 2:1 ratio transfer case is paired up to the modified C-6 tranny. Extending their way from the transmission and the transfer case are equal front and rear 1350 custom-fabricated driveshafts, which turn the Dana 70 axles with 4.88 gears and a Power Lok posi locker in the front and a Dana 70 with 4.88s and a Lincoln locker in the rear. To improve appearance, both pumpkins had Ford SVO covers installed.

The chassis modifications are as substantial as the engine and transmission modifications. With more cubic dollars being forked over on supplies and materials, Matt built a custom tube chassis, which incorporated a Lexan floor and firewall. Once completed, he attached a custom four-link suspension system with 1-inch Heim joints and custom nitrogen shocks in the rear. Custom-arched 14-inch springs were installed up front to level the rig. Still not satisfied with the suspension, Matt modified the front and rear Combs nitrogen shocks with bypass check valves and added reverse-mounted accumulators, which made them externally adjustable so that he could literally be able to dial in his ride quality. Tucked beneath the tube chassis are 19.5x44x15 Super Swamper Boggers mounted on 15x19.5-inch eight-lug Weld Racing Wheels with bead locks.

For added traction, the rear tires were cut and siped. A custom-built hydraulic steering system was created to assist Matt with steering chores due to the increased size of the tires. Four-wheel Wilwood disc brakes were also added to the list to increase performance and safety.

Wishing to harness as much horsepower as he could without sacrificing it to added weight, Matt replaced the entire body of the truck with a fiberglass version that was created by GTS. The decrease in weight would prove to be monumental in the performance and maneuverability of the truck both on and off the pavement. A Lund Industries Visor, Racerback, and Tailmate were all added prior to the application of the DuPont Royal Blue Pearl Metallic paint by Roger Ballaway of DeSoto, Missouri. The frame was painted in a complementary Gun Metal Gray so as to not take away from the wild flame graphics, which grace the front of the vehicle. To complete the exterior's appearance, the front headlights and grille were airbrushed into place by Randy Lenger of Wildwood, Missouri.

The interior of the rig was upgraded with Raging seats and a custom-built rollcage fabricated by Matt. The dash received Auto Meter Ultra-Lite gauges to monitor the vital signs. Unfortunately, Matt said, he couldn't install a sound system in his truck because "it's just too loud to hear anything but the motor." With an engine like that, who needs a stereo?

Although he may claim to have completed his project vehicle, Matt let the cat out of the bag when he told us that he learned so much from building this truck he will begin to build a monster truck. Ahh, the joys of having cubic dollars.

Specifications
Owner/hometown Matt and Debbie Heady/Cedar Hill, Missouri
Make/model '97 Ford {{{F-350}}} 4x4
Engine : 514ci Ford V-8 bored 0.080 over; Crane camshaft; Wiseco pistons; Cobra Jet heads
Aspiration Enderle fuel injection, custom headers; 4-inch exhaust
Transmission Modified Ford C-6
Axles/differentials 4:88 gears (front/rear); Power Lok posi locker (front), Lincoln Locker (rear)
Suspension 14-inch custom lift (front); four-link suspension (rear); Combs external bypass shocks
Wheels 15x19.5-inch Weld Racing
Tires : 19.5x44R15 Super Swamper Boggers

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