Not Your Grandpa’s Old Ford
It’s not every day you see a clean classic truck off road, let alone one that can rip through the desert at high speeds. Like most of us, Tom Webber wanted a truck he could drive back and forth to work but still be somewhat capable for camping and desert trips on the backroads of Baja.
His wife’s cousin had just purchased an ’82 Ford F-250 4x4 in stock configuration from the original owner. But after owning it for only six months, he lost interest and decided to sell it. Meanwhile, Tom and his wife were looking to upgrade to a larger, roomier, and more capable vehicle with four-wheel drive. It was just what they needed. A deal was struck and for the next four years they drove the F-250 with the stock carbureted two-barrel 302ci V-8 and NP435 manual until it went into storage for three years while Tom and his wife were living overseas.
The initial build began upon their arrival back in the states, with the addition of a custom set of 4-inch lift National leaf springs in the front as well as 10-inch-stroke Sway-A-Way 2.5 remote reservoir shocks all the way around. Tom tells us that suspension worked fairly well delivering 8 inches of travel. But after attending a short-course race at Estero Beach in 2003, he came across a big black ’96 Ford Pickup with coilovers. It was at that moment he decided he needed to build his own coilover front end.
He spent the next seven months designing and modifying the new front beams, extending the radius arms, and boxing the pivot points using a front F-250 frame section he purchased from a truck dismantlers. Tom built the entire front end on a frame jig so he could properly cycle the suspension and check for clearance, tolerances, and proper suspension component placement. He also made sure everything was bolted to the frame for maintenance reasons should he ever need to replace anything. His goal was to build a cut and turned coilover Dana 44 HD front end with uniballs that could reliably deliver 18 inches of suspension travel. Once the front end was ready, he pulled in his truck—affectionately known as the Baja F-250—into the garage and performed the transplant over a weekend and had the truck up and running in time for the Baja 1000 in ’03. Suffice it to say, the new suspension design did not disappoint. The Baja F-250 worked so well that Tom began flogging the truck faster through Baja without any issues and all while sticking to the low-key “sleeper” look.
Tom’s initial build plan was to turn the truck into a slightly capable camping/exploration rig for the backroads of Baja but as the speeds increased, the snowball effect took place. One thing’s for sure, he built himself one heck of a stealth high-speed desert monster that can reel in the race trucks like nobody’s business!