Ever wondered where to get a great deal on a good basis for a project? We certainly have, but recently we ran into a man who knew where to find a screamin' deal. Keith Thompson of Temple City, California, went to a local public auction and bought a '78 F-250 that was used as an old fire patrol unit in the Angeles National Forest. Old "Unit 72," as the hood badges originally displayed, had started life with quite a stout drivetrain already. But the package wasn't quite perfect in Keith's mind, so the sprockets (and sockets) started to turn. The 460ci engine was enhanced with a custom-ground cam, while the tired old C6 was rebuilt for heavy-duty use. In back of the C6, Keith decided to use an Off-Road Design Gen II Doubler kit mounting a NP205 and 203 together. The old fire patrol unit was starting to transform from a fire-trail rig to a mud beast. But he was still not done. Keith, like other members of the Azusa Canyon Off-Road Association, felt that a 14-bolt rearend is the choice for mud duty while keeping costs down. He had Knoll Racing pack it with a Detroit Locker and 5.13 gears to match the front Dana 60.
The 44-inch Hawgs make for good flotation devices on sinking ships or in serious mud. Wrapping them on 32-bolt Allied bead locks isn't a bad idea either.
Keeping with the utility-truck theme the rig was originally adorned with, Keith placed in a heavy-duty truck box and air compressor. When something goes wrong, Mr. Thompson has the advantage of on-board air tools.
Yes, that's an Off-Road Design Gen II Doubler kit coupling an NP205 and NP203. Custom crossmembers were fabricated by Knoll Racing to hold the stout combo in place.
We know this is sacrilege to some of you, but Keith opted for a 14-bolt axle in the back of his Ford. His reason, like others in his local 4x4 club, is the sheer strength and affordability of parts. It's stuffed with a Detroit Locker and 5.13 gears.
A custom-built rollcage keeps occupants safe. If you look closely, you can see that the steering column was entirely ripped out, and in place of it is a solid shaft between the steering box and wheel.
With a stout drivetrain built, it was time to move on to the more easily recognizable mudifications. And what better way to start than with a set of 44-inch Ground Hawgs wrapped on Allied 32-hole bead locks? To fit the crucial muddin' tires, on went a 6-inch Skyjacker Softride complemented by a 3-inch body lift.
Luckily for Keith the 'cage hasn't been used yet. The truck still adorns one of the better-looking bodies of any muddin' truck we've seen in a while.