Anyone who's been through a wedding engagement can tell you it's not a relaxing process. There are decisions to make, appointments to keep, and most of all, expenses. Keith Sato of Brea, California, found himself in that very situation a few years ago. "I was getting stressed out about all the stuff we had to pay for," Keith related. "I was happy to be getting married, and I wanted Tricia to enjoy our engagement and our wedding. I decided I needed to do something that would make both of us happy." He came up with a quid-pro-quo deal and ran it by his fiancée. "I'll quit complaining about what this is costing," he offered. "But as soon as we're back from our honeymoon, I'm gonna build a truck." Tricia agreed, and the plans for the wedding and the truck moved forward.
The wedding and honeymoon were pulled off smoothly in a matter of months. Building Keith's newly-purchased '94 F-150, on the other hand, took a few years. The first parts of the build were done outdoors, and the record-setting rainfall of the '04-to-'05 winter hampered progress. Eventually the truck was moved into Keith's garage, which made it easier to work on.
Keith didn't build the truck alone. As one-half of Sato Bros. Racing, he had, his brother, Tony's talents available, as well. Matt Helton and other friends from the "Mojave Mafia" also lent their time and skills.
The resulting truck is amazingly street-able considering its off-road prowess. The headliner, carpet, and A/C are all in place and fully functional. The engine mods were kept mild so that street-legal status could be retained.
Once in the dirt, this F-1 bares its teeth. Custom equal-length I-beams, swing-set steering, Deaver leaf springs, a Blitzkrieg Motorsports axle housing, and a full arsenal of Sway-A-Way dampers see to it that bumps get swallowed whole in rapid succession. Chassis reinforcement and personal protection come courtesy of a full 'cage that was built using 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing.
Trucks must fit more than your off-road aspirations. They must also fit your life. For some, that means a mild build using bolt-on parts. For others, high-end, custom-fabricated everything is the norm. Wherever you are along this spectrum, take some inspiration from Keith: If you're planning to build a truck, you'll get much further if you first master the art of negotiation.
Vehicle: '94 Ford F-150 SuperCab 2WD
Owner/Hometown: Keith Sato / Brea, CA
Engine: Ford 351 Windsor with sequential fuel management, Clay Smith camshaft, Mac Performance equal-length headers, mild head porting
Induction: stock intake equipped with a UNI filter
Transmission: Ford C-6 with Art Carr shifter and manual valve body, Kevlar internal bands
Front end: Custom J-Beam built by Keith using kingpin beam ends and 4130 chromoly tubing, Autofab hubs, and Wilwood brakes.
Rear end: Blitzkrieg Motorsports fabricated 9-inch housing, Currie axle shafts, and Strange Race Case third member.
Suspension: Sway-A-Way 2.0 coilovers in front, Sway-A-Way 3.0 bypass shocks front and rear, and Sway-A-Way 2.5 bump stops at each corner. Deaver rear spring packs
Tires: 37-inch Goodyear MT/R
Wheels: BTR beadlocks