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Bad in Black

Posted in Features on October 25, 2005 Comment (0)
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"It was at this point that I vowed to never sink that much money into a truck again" - fearless words coming from Andy Sites seven years prior to the evolution of his amazing Blue oval. With the destruction of one '86 Toyota pickup 4x4 and the theft of an '88 Ford F-150 in his past, the off-road world had taken its toll and left Andy high and dry, searching for a new release behind the steering wheel. While the next few years kept him eating pavement sliding through the turns of Laguna Seca, like many of us, the dirt sucked Andy back in.

Having a father who was an automotive and motorcycle enthusiast, with many of his creations gracing the pages of magazines across the country, it was second nature for Andy to try his hand at modifying his first vehicle at a young age. His first truck was an '86 Toyota 4x4 pickup truck that was instantly introduced to the world of rockcrawling. "After sufficiently beating the crap out of the Toyota," Andy started losing interest in rocks and was quickly captured by the sport of desert racing after attending a F.U.D. race in 1994. A few more races later, and Andy began constructing his first prerunner, an '88 Ford F-150, which he proceeded to pour all of his earnings into, adding components such as bent beams, custom shock hoops, fiberglass fenders, and much more. Unfortunately, not more than one year later, the truck was stolen and his insurance company failed to cover his extensive modifications that rapidly lead to the emptiness of his wallet.

In 1998, it was time for Andy to give wheel-to-wheel road racing a try. Racing on courses that many of us dream to drive one day, his Acura Integra Type R took the overall points championship in his rookie season. As you can imagine, this was upsetting to the many sponsored vehicles racing behind Andy and his independently owned and raced car. Before his second season was complete, the lack of sponsorship turned his glory on the road into the sale of yet another one of his creations.

Encompassed in metalwork is a 351 Ford Lightning-powered motor with AFR aluminum heads, and Comp Cams shooting power through a C6 transmission. According to the dyno, the truck is pushing 380 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.

Now it was time to take his experience racing, knowledge of the desert terrain, and modification skills and build the ultimate weekend adventure vehicle. During many of those F.U.D. races there was always one truck that stood out in Andy's mind: the ex-Robby Gordon/Frank Vessels Trophy Truck nicknamed Rosanne. The truck was bigger than life to him and seemed to spend more time in the air than on the ground. Taking examples from the TT, he picked up a black '94 Ford Lightning in February of 2002 and the race was on.

Like most enthusiasts, Andy spent the next few months traveling to different shops around Southern California, gathering information and searching for the right person to take the visions in his head and put them into his truck. Rodd Fantelli of Fantelli Motorsports in Ramona, California, had all the right qualities Andy was searching for. Rodd has been building successful race cars for many years, including several for himself racing the likes of the Baja 1000. With a very trusting hand, Andy turned over his truck and keys to Rodd and waited nearly one year for his new toy to be completed. When the truck rolled out of the shop 11 months later, it was more than he could have imagined.

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"Vessels"-style fiberglass body panels by Autofab in Santee, California, surround this truck giving it a low-profile look while keeping aerodynamics to a maximum.

If you're building a race car or prerunner, what better friend to have than someone who has been dubbed "The Shock God?" The truck was notched, bent, and welded in all the right places but wouldn't be a comfortable ride without having the shocks and coilovers set up correctly. Andy turned to Pete Albano of Precision Shockworks in Upland, California, to properly valve and tweak all four corners of this machine into a harmony of motion.

A custom full-floating Ford 9-inch rearend from Camburg Engineering was installed with 35-spline axles and 4.86 ring-and-pinion gears combined with a spool, keeping both rear tires spinning at the same time, all the time.

Knowing this prerunner was built with racing in mind, we opted to tackle the Barstow racecourse for our photo shoot. The rough and uncompromising terrain was just what we needed to put this Bad in Black Blue Oval to the test. After wiping the drool from the camera for long enough, Andy offered up his passenger seat. An in-car camera would have been nice to capture ear-to-ear grins, as the suspension made each whoop section feel like nothing more than your average parking lot speed bump. It was easy to see that the geometry and fabrication of his truck was topnotch. Andy's dream had come true.

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