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1997 Ford F-250 - Size Matters

Posted in Features on November 4, 2013
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Photographers: Doug Hale

Listen: Girls. Big trucks. It’s just a way of life. It doesn’t matter how fast or cool-lookin’ your little sports car is when someone like Bobby Hartwell pulls in with his towering ’97 Ford F-250 that rumbles so loud it sets off car alarms across the street. All the girls jump right out of their boyfriends’ silly little exotic cars and run right over to the big-boy toy. They all want a ride, and we’re more than happy to help them up! Of course, this big-ass rig isn’t anywhere near street legal, but that doesn’t quite matter when we’re hanging out in the woods and mud pits with a girl on a crisp Saturday night.

A few years back, Bobby and his buddy Danny Watson decided to get together and build an insane off-road toy to play with on the weekends. The build would be a team project for this crew of off-road junkies. Admittedly it was a lot of hard work and more expensive than they would like to admit, but it paid off. They now have an extremely large and ridiculously loud truck to piss off the neighbors and a machine to party in all weekend.

The 5-ton military axles and gas-powered Ford 460ci big-block help this rig crawl out of anything it sinks into. Oscar at PRD racing bored and stroked the motor with a cobra jet kit, making it a 521ci big-block. A manual valve body Ford C6 transmission was attached to the nearly indestructible 12-inch drop SCS gearbox.The power is transferred to the wheels with a 4.7:1 gear ratio. A full cradle for strength, support, and suspension points was built off the factory framerails. The cradle and frame modifications were designed and fabricated by Heavy Metal Fab in Miami, which added a ton of beefy strength to the Ford chassis.

Once the control arms were cut to length, the bungs were welded on, Heims installed, and the custom Schedule 80 arms were bolted into the four-link brackets. King shocks are used for suspension, and heavy-duty chains help limit axle droop. These guys wanted to go as big as possible while still adhering to DOT towing standards, so 26x25 SoFlo custom wheels and 28Lx26 R2 silver town special service tires were ordered up from SoFlo Tire in Miami. Transporting these tires around isn’t easy, but once they were bolted on and spinning in the mud, it was clear that Danny and Tim made the right choice. This awesome mega truck can be seen above all the other trucks at any given event and will hit the deepest pits other trucks won’t dare to attempt.

Rear pinion caliper brakes were added to stop the truck, and an extra driveline brake is on the way. Moving the radiator to the bed keeps it from clogging up with mud. TruBendz Custom Exhaust reworked the headers for better aspiration—and sound! A B&M transmission cooler was installed so the tranny won’t overheat when it’s plowing through mud all day. The steering is kept under control thanks to a forklift hydraulic strut and an orbital valve.

A few last performance components like heavy-duty sway bars, new axleshafts, and a locker in the rear-end help the truck’s performance in and around the pits. These mud lifers would like to thank Freshcut Landsaping and SoFlo Tires for their help and support.

1997 Ford F-250
Owner: Bobby Bj Hartwell, Danny Watson, Tim Thweatt
Engine: Ford 460ci big-block opened up to 560 ci
Transmission: Ford C6
Transfer Case: 12-inch drop SCS gearbox with a 4.7:1 gear ratio
Suspension: 2½-inch DOM parallel 4-link bars, 1¼-inch heims
Axles: 5-ton military
Shocks: 18-inch King coilovers
Tires & Wheels: 28Lx26 R2 Silvertowns on 26x25 SoFlo wheels

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