When we first spotted this rig sitting in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center at last years SEMA show, we were immediately smitten. This is the most modified Ford Expedition weve ever run across, and although well admit the Lime Green paint was the first thing to catch our eye, one look at the under- carriage, and we knew the vehicle deserved a closer look.
Owner Chris Malek of Temecula, California, isnt one to be satisfied with anything stock coming out of Detroit. So in six short months, he transformed a mild-mannered 98 Expedition into a beast. Since Chris works at Ranch Muffler in Temecula, he and his crew decided to work a little magic on the motor. The 5.4L V-8 was left fairly stock (for reliability) but nonetheless benefits from a K&N filtercharger, DynoMax headers, and a 4-inch pipe that leads to a DynoMax Bullet muffler. For durability, Chris had the whole exhaust Jet-Hotcoated. Even with these mild tweaks, he estimates those upgrades punched up the power by 40 horses, bringing the total to 300.
To handle the extra juice, Chris installed a low-stall-speed torque converter, a shift kit, and a Mag-Hytec tranny pan for the 4R100 four-speed automatic supported by a custom tubular crossmember built by Chris. While the stock Borg-Warner case handles splitting duties, any resemblance to a normal Expedition ends there.
To gain the lift and articulation, a solid-axle swap for the frontend seemed like the best solution, and Chris had Cliff, John, and Mitch at First Engineering in Ramona, California, handle the swap.
A 77 Ford Dana 44 was the axle of choice, since it had the pumpkin of the correct side for the newer Borg-Warner case. The axle was trussed with 2-inch drawn-over mandrel (DOM) tubing and loaded with 4.56:1 gears. To get the suspension geometry correct, First Engineering built a custom front-spring hanger arrangement for the 10-inch Superlift springs and braced the hangers with DOM tubing. First also built the custom crossover steering system for the truck, using a custom machined knuckle and steering arm along with a drop pitman arm and a 13/8-inch DOM drag link. To get the rig to handle better, First engineered a front Panhard bar to control the side-to-side motions. Chris built the shock tubes with the help of his coworkers at Ranch Muffler and installed three Rancho shocks per wheel.
Out back, First Engineering used the stock 10.25-inch Expedition axle but machined the hubs for a 5-on-5½ bolt pattern to match the front. The 8-inch Superlift springs were hung in custom-built mounts, and a custom Panhard bar was used to increase lateral stability. Chris and the gang at Ranch muffler built all the shock hoops and mounts in back as well and installed six chrome Rancho shocks. All this custom suspension makes plenty of room for the 39-inch Mickey Thompsons on 16.5x12-inch Weld Outback wheels, while custom Inland Empire drivelines get the torque to the rotund rubber.
New Image Autobody handled the impressive spray job on this wild-looking beast and custom-blended the PPG paints to arrive at the color, which Chris describes as Kawasaki green. A Custom Rides Company front-bumper mask and a Sir Michaels rear roll pan add a bit of that California sport truck look to the new Expedition, while plenty of PIAA lighting help light the night. A dark tint on the glass was applied by K.O. Option in Temecula and gives the rig an ominous look.
Inside, Chris left the stock leather seating and stock gauges but had his buddy Ruben Valloza at Audio Evolution in Temecula install some serious thump. An Eclipse 7002 head unit handles the switch up, while an Eclipse 5083 six-disc changer keeps the tunes flowing with the help of three Eclipse amps powering six Eclipse speakers. An Eclipse GPS unit and an Audiovox VCR add functionality and some fun to longer drives.
While this rig seems to have all the makings of a world-class show beast, Chris isnt afraid to get it dirty. He wheels it on California sand dunes quite often and drives the big beast to work every day. We congratulate Chris for creating one of the sharpest new 4x4s weve seen in a long time.