Plenty of folks buy Toyotas and Jeeps and spend a whole lot of time and money transplanting bigger engines and 1-ton axles into their downsized vehicles. Kyle Virgin of Anchorage, Alaska, decided to skip all of the swaps and just start with a heavy-duty truck. His ’03 Ford Super Duty may have started life with a V-10 engine and eight-lug axles, but it was not originally intended for trail use. Virgin used the pickup for a daily driver for a number of years, but after a bad accident in which his insurance company totaled the pickup, Virgin bought back his truck and gave it a new lease on life as a dedicated trail machine.
The Triton V-10 engine doesn’t have any of the head gasket issues that 6.0L Power Strokes are notorious for, or worries about fuel gelling in subzero temperatures. The engine belts out over 300 horsepower in stock form, but it still benefits from a K&N cone intake and Flowmaster exhaust. The Superchips programmer adds power and also recalibrates the line pressure and shift points for the 4R100 automatic transmission. An NP273 splits the power to the front and rear axles, yet another stock component that is both stout and reliable. The front axle is an open Dana 60, while the rear Sterling 10.5 has a Detroit Locker. Kyle plans to add a locker to the front diff, but he realizes that hydraulic-assist should accompany that purchase. Both axles are fitted with 5.13 gears to spin the 44-inch Super Swamper Boggers.
The 44-inch Boggers are what really set the Super Duty apart from the rest of the pack, and Jeep doesn’t put an axle under its vehicles that would want anything to do with these tires, which weigh in at 165 pounds per corner on the 16x14 MRW wheels. Clearance for the tires comes from an 8-inch Icon Vehicle Dynamics lift with Bilstein 5100 monotube shocks. Ford did not switch to front coil springs on the Super Duties until 2005, so simple leaf springs are used at all four corners. Still, the Icon system is complete with bumpstop extensions, new U-bolts, a track bar bracket, and a drop pitman arm to keep the steering angles reasonable while minimizing bumpsteer. Icon suggests that this kit only accommodates 38-inch tires, so Kyle made up the difference with inner and outer fender trimming.
Cool details like the mudflaps used for inner fenders and the ’08 bed abound on the truck, but really it is the Boggers that make the biggest impression. They are perfect for crossing the vast expanses of the Alaskan outback, and there is no shortage of room in the bed for everything from camping gear to ATVs to snow machines. Try doing that with a Jeep or mini-truck.
At A Glance
Vehicle: 2003 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Owner: Kyle Virgin
Stomping Grounds: Palmer, Alaska
Engine: 6.8L Triton V-10, K&N intake, Superchips programmer, and Flowmaster exhaust
Transmission: 4R100 4-spd
Transfer case(s): NP273
Low range ratio(s): 2.72:1
Crawl ratio(s): 37.7:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 60/5.13 gears, open carrier
Rear axle/differential: Sterling 10.5-in/5.13 gears, Detroit Locker
Front: Icon Vehicle Dynamics 8-in lift, track bar, and drop track bar bracket, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Rear: Icon Vehicle Dynamics 8-in lift, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Steering: Drop pitman arm
Tires: 19.5/44-16 Super Swamper Bogger
Wheels: 16x14 MRW steel
Armor: Underground Performance custom rock sliders
Cool stuff: Warn M15000 winch, heavily cut fenders, ’08 F-250 bed