How long does it take to become a veteran in a particular sport or hobby? 10 years? 15 years? While we know of no official measuring stick for gauging one's commitment to the sport of off-roading, Arizona resident Kevin Miller qualifies for veteran status. Kevin's been at it for more than 30 years, enabling him to acquire more knowledge about playing in the dirt than we care to estimate. His truck-building savvy, fortified by years of building custom vehicles, shines through with his latest hauler: this '00 Ford Excursion.
Kevin claims that his newest creation serves as "a great tow vehicle for sand toys." Knowing that he's built some pretty wild customs - such as his '55 Chevy pro-gas racer - leads us to believe that he can't leave well enough alone and his "tow vehicle" had to be just as cool as his race car. Why else would a "tow vehicle" need 38-inch tires and a killer flamed paintjob?
True to form, Kevin spent four months converting Ford's biggest SUV from a soccer-mom stock ride into something that would gain respect whenever he slid behind the wheel. The first stop on his custom tour was to Off-Road Unlimited in Burbank, California, for a little suspension alteration. The ORU staff quickly removed the stock leaf spring packs and dampers, replacing them with a set of 14-inch National Springs spring packs and Bilstein reservoir dampers. The frontend received a quartet of dampers, while the rearend scored a single pair. To match the new altitude of the SUV, ORU installed a cool combination of Parnelli Jones Dirt Grips rubber and Weld wheels. The tires measure a healthy 38 inches in diameter and the wheels come in at 16.5 inches. Kevin knew that the additional rotating mass that oversized rollers add to the truck would necessitate a brake upgrade. ORU responded with a new set of vented and slotted brake rotors and new brake pads, which offer shorter braking distances compared with the stock parts.
The next stop was Ricky Ross' place in Los Angeles for some sonic upgrades within the cab. Ricky pulled out all the stops, crafting an audio and video entertainment system that would shake the fillings out of Kevin's teeth. JL Audio provided hard-hitting bass notes with a replacement center console that houses a 10-inch 10W3 subwoofer. A Pioneer Audio head unit controls the DVD player and audio system, which flexes a pair of Pioneer amplifiers and a multiple-component speaker system. To keep the kids happy on long trips, Kevin had Ricky install a pair of monitors from Directed Electronics to allow his kids to watch their favorite movies.
The last item on Kevin's truck wish list was a custom paintjob that would cohesively tie his personality to the truck. Deano's Paint Works in Phoenix went gonzo on the exterior of the Excursion and hit a home run. The factory black paint was in good shape, so Deano's concentrated on brightening it up with a blazing tribal-flamed paint scheme that stretched across the hood, down the fenders, and onto the doors. The flamed theme also appears on the rear tailgate of the SUV, making sure that you see this Ford coming from all directions.
Kevin's incarnation of the Excursion works miracles to dispel the soccer-mom image usually associated with SUVs. You just don't see kid-toting tow trucks such as this haulin' butt through the desert everyday. We wish we did, though; life would be far more interesting with more trucks as striking as Kevin's to look at.
|Owner/hometown||:||Kevin Miller/Higley, Arizona|
|Year/make/model||:||'00 Ford Excursion|
|Engine||:||7.3L Power Stroke diesel with Hypertech Power|
|Programmer III, Billy Boat 4-inch exhaust system|
|Suspension||:||National Springs Softride leaf springs, Bilstein|
|7100-series dampers, ORU custom overload air|
|springs, high-angle drivelines|
|Tires/wheels||:||38x15.50R16.5 Parnelli Jones Dirt Devil/|
|16.5x12-inch Weld Racing wheels|
|Additional features||:||Kodiak electric steps, Pioneer and Directed|
|Electronics audio/video system|