Function, function, function. If there's one thing we're trying to stress with our chosen feature trucks, it's that we're drawn to trucks that put function first, and add a tasteful dash of form on top. Jim Cole's '05 F-350 Super Duty is a perfect example of just such a truck, so we felt fortunate when we had the chance to snap a few frames of the big fella as it navigated the red rocks and canyons of Moab, Utah, during the '05 Easter Jeep Safari.
As we watched the CAGE machine thread its way through the twisties and rock faces, we realized that this F-350 is as loaded with simplicity as it is with function. Ford's big addition to the wildly popular Super Duty 4x4s for '05 was the deletion of the front leaf springs in favor of a pair of burly radius arms suspended by captured coil springs. This update might be more properly called a retrofit, since the radius-arm/coil-sprung Ford 4x4 dates all the way back to '66 when the Bronco was first introduced. Retrofit or update, the design is rugged and smoothes out the ripples and jolts with more aplomb than its leaf-sprung forebearers. The list of suspension mods to the CAGE machine is short, clean, and effective. A pair of laser-cut radius arm drop brackets combines with 4-inch CAGE coils, 2.5-inch billet aluminum coil spacers, and matching CAGE shocks. The componentry adds altitude needed to clear a quartet of 37-inch Goodyear MT/Rs. The truck's aft section was lifted a modest 3.5 inches using a set of cast-iron CAGE lift blocks. Since the S-Duty sits tail-high as delivered, the 6.5-inch front lift and the 3.5-inch rear blocks actually give the truck a level stance. Extra wheelwell space was captured using a set of Bushwacker cut-out fender flares front and rear. This short list of mods is long on function and allowed Cole's 174-inch wheelbase to take him over and around a medley of trail obstacles usually conquered by compact rigs with more nimble dimensions. Cole also owns a trail-modified '69 Bronco that he usually takes to the trails. Cole summed up the situation after the trail run: "It's a whole new driving experience in the Super Duty compared with the Bronco. You have to figure out different lines and tire placement. I enjoyed the challenge and the experience it gave me.
We think there's plenty of room in the off-road world for big-dog trucks that take to the trail. Many owners relegate their Super Dutys to towing and hauling tasks, leaving them coupled to empty trailers in the parking lot while out exploring the trails in smaller rigs. While we're not here to say that a Super Duty will actually fit everywhere on every trail (it won't), the CAGE machine proves that when function comes first, plenty of trails still lie in wait.