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1973 Ford F250 - Original Slim

Side View
Kevin Blumer | Writer
Posted March 1, 2010

Rollover-Tested In White, This F-250 Is Now Back In Blue

Beware the words "just one more." James "Slim" Janssen can tell you why. Not so long ago, the blue F-250 on these pages was glimmering white. During a long weekend in the desert, yours truly was en route from another corner of the Mojave, planning to meet Slim and the rest of the Mojave Mafia for a few hours of photo shoot fun. James and crew had spent most of the afternoon playing in the whoops and turns near the Slash X Café in Stoddard Valley. It was time to give the truck a wipe-down. Before parking, the proud owner cranked the wheel and hit the throttle in the name of "just one more" powerslide. Mid-slide, the outside rear tire blew off its bead, hooking the wheel in terra firma, and sending the truck rubber-side up. Oops.

With a wrinkled cab and no shortage of mangled fiberglass, the repairs seemed daunting. Thanks to Slim's "original" approach to building his truck, it went back together with relative ease. A few months later, the newly-blue Ford was ready for another shoot. When the date arrived, James kept his truck parked pending the photographer's arrival.

That's the story of the photo shoot. Now let's concentrate on the truck's build.

James bought the truck already built, and the original build used bolt-on roll cage and suspension construction. Even though he ended up redoing most of the build, new 'cage and suspension components were still bolted to the frame rather than welded directly on. Bolt-on construction takes more time during the initial build. Instead of welding directly to the frame, landing plates are made to bolt on. This means spending time making the landing plates, and spending time drilling holes in the frame to mount them. Once the plates are bolted in place, rollcage tubing can "land" on the plates. This method also applies to leaf spring hangers, bump stop mounts, and radius arm brackets.

The bolt-on method has a couple of advantages. First, roll cage sections and suspension components can be unbolted during maintenance and repair. Second, the bolts allow a little bit of "give" between the 'cage and suspension components and the frame. This give helps avoid stress cracks.

The front suspension is classic and simple. Kingpin-style I-beams were slightly extended and then plated in for maximum strength. The rear-steer knuckles were retained, along with the OEM-configuration steering linkage. Tony Sato built James a set of billet front hubs which are lighter and stronger than the '73 pieces. The early '90s flavor comes from the coil bucket-mounted springs and the dual smooth-body Fox 2.0 shocks. A Fox bumpstop on each side updates the performance during hard hits.

Slim's truck is based on a '73 F-250 frame. Instead of the '73 cab, an '85 unit was grafted on. The front fiberglass and grille are '87-to-'91-style and bring on thoughts of the 1990s, a decade still considered by many as desert racing's finest years.

Out back, the bolt-on leaf spring hangers and matching bolt-on shackle brackets are home to a pair of Deaver leaf packs that mount to the top of a Currie-built Ford 9-inch rearend. James wanted to use the same old-school shock setup that the front end had, but found it impossible to achieve the same control using smooth-body shocks. Shock tuning on both ends comes courtesy of Keith Sato, who is Tony's brother and a fellow Mojave Mafia member.

Under the dropped-center fiberglass hood, you'll find a mildly-built Ford 400M V-8. A Clay Smith cam, roller rockers, and a 750 cfm double-pumper carburetor help produce about 400 ponies. Behind the 400, a Ford C6 transmission translates crank rpm into driveshaft rpm. The C6 was built by Roy's Transmission in Fullerton, California, who fitted the heavy-duty automatic with a fixed-yoke output. Lucas Oil products lubricate the entire truck.

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