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Overkill

Driver Side Uphill
Mike Finnegan | Writer
Posted July 1, 2004
Photographers: Gary Blount

OR's Project Super Duty Super Runner

It all started with a crazy idea and a phone call to Ford Motor Company. Team Off-Road wanted to take Ford's biggest new truck, a brand-spankin'-new '04 Ford F-350 Super Duty, and turn it into the most stylish go-anywhere truck on the planet. Plans were made for months, and a few weeks prior to the 2003 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Ford delivered our new truck.

Right out of the box, this is a kick-ass truck. The 6.0L diesel powerplant cranks out tons of torque, and the straight-axle four-wheel-drive beast was definitely capable of going most everywhere we wanted. Obviously, there was more fun to be had once the right people came into the picture.

Donahoe Racing Enterprises recently developed an extremely clean and well-designed lift system for the Super Duty, so we contacted Kreg, the company owner, first. After we informed him that our truck would be running a wide combination of 38-inch Toyo Open Country MT tires and Weld wheels, he suggested an 8.5-inch lift kit. The Edge kit was installed by local talent Robby Gordon Off-Road in Anaheim, California. The front suspension kit replaced the factory leaf springs with a custom-designed spring pack from Deaver Spring Company that was perfectly balanced for the heavy front end of this truck. Drop-down brackets gave the 4-inch lift springs the additional 4.5 inches of lift necessary to clear the big Toyo donuts. To keep the frontend tracking predictably, a dual steering stabilizer was employed and dual shock hoops were installed to give four Bilstein reservoir dampers a home. The result of everyone's hard work and the sano parts was an awesome stance, excellent on-road manners that exceeded the ride quality of the stock components, and off-road prowess that can't be beat.

The rear suspension of Project Super Runner mimicked the point-and-shoot characteristics of the frontend, with a few small differences. Once again, Deaver Spring came to the rescue with a customized spring pack, which allowed us to avoid using an inferior lift block to bring the back of the truck up to the same level as the front. Since we planned on going big with the style quotient of this truck, we opted to skip the quick and easy approach of mounting the rear shocks using the factory mounts. Instead, we contacted Wicked Fabrication

in Upland, California, to have expert in-house fabricator Matt Walrath whip up a slick bedcage. The TIG-welded masterpiece contains a lockable spare-tire mount and upper shock hoops for a quartet of Bilstein 16-inch stroke reservoir shocks. While he was at it, Matt also constructed the bolt-on front prerunner bumper, which gave us a protected area in which to mount four Lightforce HID Blitz driving lights.

With the suspension setup cycling smoothly and dialed-in for the dirt, we turned to Hannemann Fiberglass for the body mods. Owner Harold Hannemann cut off the stock bedsides and unbolted the stock front fenders, replacing them with 6-inch flared counterparts. The new fiberglass fenders adequately covered the 15-inch-wide tires the Ford was rollin' on and provided sturdy inner fender liners as well.

With SEMA looming large over our heads, we turned out attention to the interior of the truck. Since time was short, we ordered a set of four Corbeau CR-1 bucket seats in plain black leather. Mike Duvall of Off Road Unlimited in Burbank, California, put in the time necessary to build custom seat mounts to retain the factory power-seat bases from the stock Ford seats. Mike also built a new rear seat rack, which included a mount for a Power Tank air supply system.

Next, we trekked out to Phoenix to have master painter Kenny Goins of Goins Autobody repaint the entire truck. With so much of the bodywork being replaced with fiberglass, a full repaint was necessary. Goins even blended the new paint into the door and hood jambs for a finish that looks as though the truck just rolled off the assembly line. Kenny burned the midnight oil and got the truck pieced back together just in time for SEMA. Although Project Super Runner didn't appear at the SEMA show in all its planned glory, it did turn many heads with its aggressive stance, trend-setting body mods, and stylish appearance. Just as soon as the truck came home from the show, we plotted and planned its cover appearance and wrapped up the last few details of the plan.

Stitchcraft Interiors of Huntington Beach, California, took the task of revamping the boring gray interior of the Super Duty with color-matching vinyl. The work included wrapping portions of the door panels in Enduratex faux-carbon-fiber vinyl and also building custom panel inserts. Stitchcraft also crafted new seat skins with an entirely new pattern and again added the slick carbon-fiber look to the classy gray-vinyl trim. The work came out beautifully, and really upgraded the look and feel of the truck from a thrown-together mishmash of parts to a seamless and flowing cab environment.The final ingredient in this potent recipe for off-road domination and on-road comfort was to increase the fun with awesome in-cab entertainment. Pacific Audio and Alarm in Placentia, California, teamed up with Sony Electronics, and the result was an Earth-shaking sound system and brilliant video system. The backbone of the system is a custom-built subwoofer enclosure that fits snugly between the C-pillars of the cab, behind the rear Corbeau seats. The enclosure houses four Sony 10-inch subwoofers that pound out bass cleanly and loudly. Each pair of subs receives power from a dedicated 1,600-watt amplifier mounted beneath the rear seats. To balance all the bass with ear-splitting highs and mid-bass frequencies, Sony 5x10-inch drivers were mounted in the front doors and rear pillars, again receiving power from a Sony amplifier. In total, the system cranks out more than 4,000 watts of musical power with zero audible distortion. Up front, a brand-new Sony CD head unit controls the system and also pimps a very special feature. The single-DIN-sized head unit contains its own high-resolution color monitor, perfect for viewing DVDs from the comfort of the front seats. For rear passengers, a pair of swivel-mount flip-down Sony monitors was employed. The crew at Pacific Audio and Alarm also managed to stuff a Sony DVD player into the center console for the ultimate stealth install. In less than two days, this talented team transformed the weak stock Ford audio system into a concert hall that can be heard a block away.

We've put about 2,000 miles on Project Super Runner since its completion and are pleased to report that it's performed admirably in all respects. The suspension hasn't given up on us, no matter how hard we beat on it during our pursuit of the hottest off-road trucks on the planet. The interior is to die for and we'll fight to the death to keep thieves from stealing the equipment, too. Neighbors young and old constantly rubberneck and gawk as we drive by, proving once again that form and function can live in harmony. Now that it's finished, we'll once again rip into the beast and come back to SEMA with more tricks up our sleeves. Just wait and see!

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  • Don't bother calling up Donahoe Racing and asking for your Edge lift kit in silver. We sent our suspension brackets and shock hoops out to Embee Performance Coatings in Santa Ana, California, for this colorful custom touch.

  • Stitchcraft's work on the interior really woke up a dreary area of the truck and provided the level of bling we were after. The four Corbeau buckets are comfortable, and the Enduratex faux-carbon-fiber inserts look killer.

  • The fit and finish of the Hannemann fiberglass fenders is topnotch. The company offers several versions of the front fenders, with the headlight openings or without. The front fiberglass bumper cover is also available with headlights recessed into it, although our truck isn't lifted high enough to warrant this mod. The factory headlights are still able to hit the ground.

  • The Toyo Open Country MT tires are 15.5 inches wide and up the terra firma with no hesitation. This is one of the few tires on the market available for an 18-inch rim. The polished Weld Racing rims look right at home here.

SPECIFICATION

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Year/make/model:
'04 FordF-250 Super Duty 4x4
Engine:
6.0L Power Stroke diesel with Banks after-cat
exhaust andAiraid air intake system
Suspension:
DonahoeRacing Edge 8.5-inch lift kit with Bilstein
shocks and Deaver leafspring packs
Wheels/tires:
Weld Racing F-1Commando 18x12-inch wheels/Toyo
Open Country MT 38x15.50R18tires
Interior
Stitchcraft custom vinylaccents with Corbeau bucketseats
Acessories:
Complete Sony audio/viedosystem installed
by Pacific Audio and alarm; Power Tank onboard airsystem